Vishen Lakhiani is a man on a mission. The 47-year-old Malaysian entrepreneur and bestselling author is certain he has found the way for every one of us to live our best life. He’s written multiple popular self-help books, with his latest being The 6 Phase Meditation Method, but he insists that understanding how to meditate is just one small element of a larger education system that he’s designed (along with other wellness experts) to “reimagine the human experience.”
As the founder and CEO of Mindvalley.com, a website described as a powerful and effective “life transformation platform,” Lakhiani’s goal is to help others make their way to a mental and physical place that allows them to be happier, healthier and more productive. The site is chockablock with a community of people with the same vision—like-minded and successful individuals who all believe in the world Lakhiani began visualizing when he was in his 20s and has since manifested into personal and professional growth and success.
He joined SUCCESS for a wide-ranging conversation, held in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, offering a four-step program that he advocates as the key to living better by feeling better overall, one that he says enhances mental health and is especially useful to entrepreneurs.
You’ve built a whole career on advising others how to change the way they think by using meditation as the foundation of good mental health, despite graduating from University of Michigan with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, not medicine. How did that evolve for you?
Vishen Lakhiani: I quit Silicon Valley 20 years ago, because I found that what I learned in school had very little bearing on my career. Now, in that time, I ended up taking a class called the Silva Method, which was one of the original American personal growth programs. I sometimes call it a meditation, but it is way beyond that. It is the art of using your mind, going into altered states of mind and then tapping into the abilities that are unlocked in your mind, to enhance intuition, master your emotional states, your character, your being, your habits, and then to basically be able to master life, through concepts such as mind-body healing, or even what some might call the Law of Attraction. Calling it meditation is too simplified.
So you used this method to shift your way of thinking about things?
VL: That Silva Method class changed my life. I was in technology sales. It was a boring job, and I had no experience in sales. But after I took that class, I learned how to access altered states of awareness, to tap into my intuition. And overnight, my sales doubled. Then I started bringing in new concepts and visualizing myself closing the sale. This is sometimes called creative visualization. Again, my sales doubled, then I added other mental concepts, compassion practices, where I would see myself sending love and well-being to the prospect I was about to call. Again, my sales doubled.
Now, in 18 months, I became the top salesperson in the company and then I was VP of sales and VP of business development. But now my intuition spoke to me again and it said, ‘You’ve got to quit, and you’ve got to do your own thing.’ I realized that everything I’d learned in school did not give me the same edge I was getting from this particular method, which never calls itself meditation. It is more like a spiritual practice.
So this spiritual practice led you to create Mindvalley.com and to write your books, all designed to create what you call a ‘mastery of self’?
VL: Yes, mastery of the self is as important as mastery of business. The two go together to create entrepreneurs that can conquer the world, but also master life, happiness, health and relationships. So what are the practices that are essential to entrepreneurs? Through Mindvalley, you have access to thousands of the world’s best teachers, but we can break it down and focus on mental health today. The four things that I’d recommend we focus on, by taking on these four things, and understanding just how much your life is in your control, you can take massive steps towards greater mental health.
And those four things are what, exactly?
VL: These four things are things that literally can change your life in 24 hours, with the right approach: sleep, supplement, active meditation and having the right support network. The first and most important practice for mental health—and this is the easiest, but something that we underestimate—is rest and sleep. When I see someone who is struggling with business or struggling with life, my first question to them is, ‘How are you sleeping?’
The reason this is so important is because when we do not sleep well, we end up going into a state of emotional imbalance, which leads to worse decision making, which leads to more, more, more struggles in our business, which leads to a spiraling, a downward spiral of negative emotions, which leads back to lack of sleep.
The best way to improve your sleep is to use sleep hacks that can help you gain a better night’s sleep. First, take magnesium every night. Magnesium is an essential supplement that your body needs for it to go into deep slumber. Second, take melatonin anywhere from two to three times a week. Third, practice resting throughout the day. Contrary to popular belief, taking an afternoon nap, or meditation after lunch, will not make it harder for you to sleep, it will make it easier for you to sleep. Science now shows that it’s almost as if you are training your body to relax.
So now we are getting better sleep, what is the next step?
VL: Supplements. Take these two supplements every single day, take GABA and take 5-HTP [hydroxytryptophan], which is serotonin. Brain chemistry really matters. The neurochemical that causes happiness, serotonin, is produced in our gut. If we have any type of disorder in our gut, our serotonin reserves go down, and thus our happiness levels go down. What this does is causes us to feel more irritable, to be more prone to stress and to feel that our life sucks, even when it truly doesn’t. If you’re not supplementing, what’s going to happen is that your body might not be getting the right minerals and the right nutrients it needs for healthy brain functioning. Sadness, emotional dysregulation, are often conditions of your brain’s biochemistry, so these supplements are essential.
When you take GABA, and when you combine it with 5-HTP, what happens is your ability to tolerate stress dramatically changes and thus your mental health goes up. With the right neurochemistry, you can tolerate stress. If your neurochemistry is off, you feel burned out and your mental health drops. So the second most important rule is supplementation.
And step three?
VL: The third most important thing is active meditation. And let me repeat, active meditation, not passive meditation. Passive meditation is mindfulness. It’s breathing, it’s trying to clear your thoughts. This has a place and it does reduce stress. But I’m a big advocate of active meditation, which is where you use your mind to solve problems which are coming your way, to heal your body, to visualize your future, to practice gratitude, forgiveness, compassion.
Here’s how active meditation works: You sit in a relaxed state of mind, and using a hypnotic command, you train your mind to go into altered states of awareness. What we’re talking about here is the alpha or theta brain frequency. At the alpha frequency, you use certain active meditation tools to bring to mind problems or tactical challenges that you’re facing in your business. And then to project into the future. See these problems resolve, and then tap into your intuition to gain insights on how you might resolve these problems. You can learn it using the ‘6 phase meditation’ [described in his new book].
And the fourth key to improving your mental health?
VL: Number four is community. Now this is actually the toughest one. This means having a circle of friends, family, allies, that you can trust and that you can spend time with. Loneliness is one of the worst things that can affect your health and well-being. And so by taking on these four things, and understanding just how much of your life is in your control, you can take massive steps towards greater mental health.
**Opinions and claims made by a guest are strictly those of the guest and do not represent the opinions or claims of SUCCESS Enterprises. No guest statements are a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.
Photo by All Is Amazing