Authors & Thought Leaders

The Benefits of Meditation in a Modern World

Published on May 8, 2017

Article by Justine Amodeo for Bodhi Tree

Meditation Makeover

Suze Yalof Schwartz became the founder and CEO of the groundbreaking Los Angeles–based meditation studio Unplug Meditation quite by accident. After two decades in high-powered jobs at Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Glamour, she found herself navigating a bicoastal commute from New York to L.A., juggling her family and transitioning to a new town. She hit a wall. “That everyday stress, as you know, is enough to overwhelm you and send you over the edge,” she writes in her new book, Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers.

So she took a breath. Literally. She learned how to calm herself down in three minutes by breathing. And then she found what was missing in L.A.: Although there were expensive or lengthy programs that teach meditation, “there was nowhere I could go to just pop in, learn and leave,” she writes. That’s when she had one of those “aha” moments that comes when you slow down enough to listen to your own gut. Meditation needed a makeover and she was the one to do it.

So “like a brilliantly produced morning television segment,” she launched Unplug, the world’s first secular drop-in meditation studio. “I wanted to take the practice from esoteric to accessible and create a place that would apply to busy, modern people so they could unplug from life for even just a few minutes a day, recharge, and experience the undeniable effects of meditation,” she writes.

Here, she tells Bodhi Tree how that’s working out.

Suze Yalof Schwartz of Unplug Meditation on the Misconceptions of Meditation

Bodhi Tree: How has meditation changed you?

Suze Yalof Schwartz: Meditation has made me much more present in my life and much more aware of myself and everything around me. It’s like seeing the world in Technicolor. It’s also been the best tool I’ve ever learned in my life to get calm on demand, so I can easily shift my mood instead of ruminating for hours and hours.

BT: You’ve always been a busy woman. It seems like you’re still doing a lot. How are you now doing it mindfully?

SYS: I’m lucky because while an entrepreneur’s life is crazy, I have the perk of being able to hop into a class every time I’m going too fast. I created the Unplug Meditation app so I can click and have a teacher in my pocket. I made all of my favorite teachers record a meditation.

BT: What do you say to people who continue to insist they don’t have the time to meditate?

SYS: I say welcome to my world. I don’t have time, either, but I make the time. There are a lot of periods of dead time in the day, standing in line at Starbucks or in the parking lot or at the grocery store. All the meditations start at one minute and build up, so if you can breathe, you can meditate.

BT: What are the most common misperceptions about meditation?

SYS: That you have to turn off your mind in order to do it. And when you start you’ll notice your mind even more, but it’s the noticing the thought and choosing to move away from it by connecting to your breath that helps you access the stillness within.

BT: What do you think is the key to success in business?

SYS: Trusting your gut. Meditation allows you to get quiet enough to hear your own intuition.

BT: Is there science to back up the benefits of meditation?

SYS: One of the greatest things you can do with seven minutes of your life is to listen to neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s TEDx Talk. Her studies show that meditation shrinks the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls anxiety and fear. Less anxiety and fear translates to less stress. Less stress means more joy. She did two separate studies that show—in actual brain images—how meditation reshapes the brain. She proves meditation slows down aging, builds memory and increases compassion.

BT: What do you think creates happiness, and how does meditation help you find it?

SYS: Letting go of pettiness helps amplify happiness. Little things don’t bother you as much. It’s like taking a brain shower.

BT: Can people in your life tell if you’ve skipped meditation for a day?

SYS: Yes. Especially my three children. They say, “Breathe, mom.”

BT: You say, “Charisma is the secret sauce to being superstar sexy.” How can mediation give you that?

SYS: Meditation makes you happy, and happiness makes you sexy. Stress and business is not sexy. Being fully present with someone is the sexiest thing because when you really look and connect into someone’s eyes, there’s power there.

 

BT: If your life had a mantra what would it be?

SYS: “Breathe.”

Inset photos courtesy of Unplug Meditation

Published on: May 8, 2017

Tags: , , , , , ,