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“Have a healthy breakfast and eat it consciously.” with Suze Yalof Schwartz and Beau Henderson

Have a healthy breakfast and eat it consciously. If you eat mindlessly, you end up eating food that puts you in a bad mood or that potentially makes you feel unhealthy. If you make healthy food choices, you are more likely to feel good all day. I had the pleasure of interviewing Suze Yalof Schwartz. […]

Have a healthy breakfast and eat it consciously. If you eat mindlessly, you end up eating food that puts you in a bad mood or that potentially makes you feel unhealthy. If you make healthy food choices, you are more likely to feel good all day.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Suze Yalof Schwartz. Suze is the founder and CEO of Unplug Meditation, the world’s first drop-in secular meditation studio. She is also the author of Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers, and the creator of the Unplug: Guided Meditation App. In 2012, Suze learned a three-minute meditation that changed her life forever. Prior to this, she was a fashion editor and “makeover guru” working at Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire and Glamour, with regular appearances on GMA, The Today Show, CBS Early Show and more. Once she discovered meditation, she was determined to keep doing it but she could not find a place to easily learn and practice. After taking hundreds of hours of classes, reading every book possible, and listening to podcasts and lectures from the world’s most famous meditation teachers, Suze realized that meditation needed a makeover and she was the one to do it. Her mission is to make meditation simple, accessible, powerful and interesting enough so that everyone will want to practice it and experience the benefits for themselves.


Thank you for joining us, Suze! Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

My most interesting story is definitely when there was a bank robbery happening next door to our Unplug Meditation studio in Santa Monica. When the studio manager and I heard loud noises outside, we went to take a peek to see what was happening and there were two police officers yelling at us, with guns in hand pointed in our direction and toward the direction of the bank. They told us to go back inside, lock the door, and get everyone away from the windows since there was a bank robbery happening next door and the robbers had guns. We ran back into Unplug panicked, with hearts beating and red faces. I looked at my manager and said, “We need to breathe.” So we did the 16-second breath exercise and it totally calmed us down. Then we went into the meditation room, calmly stopped the class, and told everyone to follow us to our back loft, where we sat in lockdown for two hours. We ended up really connecting with each other, and because we remained calm, all the other 28 meditators remained calm, too. When we were finally told the coast was clear, I not only was calm enough to turn the camera crews covering the robbery into press coverage for Unplug, but I even turned a few of the police officers onto meditation since they were upset that the robbers got away with the money!

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

It wasn’t funny at the time, but I waited six months to get Unplug Meditation LLC trademarked, and when it finally came through, “Meditation” was misspelled as “Mediation.” Moral of the story: watch that spellcheck!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many, but one of my favorites was Steve Ross, who was such an influential teacher. Without even a question, he said he would teach at Unplug when I first opened, even though he had his own studio. He gave me advice on how to create the perfect atmosphere for meditation, and he even loaned me his studio manager, who helped me with everything!

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Meditate every day, first thing in the morning, no questions asked. It will help you focus, follow through, and feel peaceful everyday. I also suggest getting comfortable with the fact that you will learn everything as you go. Don’t worry about not knowing what you are doing — that’s the fun part!

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

You have to walk the walk. Be clear and remember that your team is there to help you. Be appreciative of them and let them know. You are nothing without your team.

Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

Wake up and meditate. Don’t scroll, don’t look at the news, don’t do anything until you connect with yourself first.

Have a healthy breakfast and eat it consciously. If you eat mindlessly, you end up eating food that puts you in a bad mood or that potentially makes you feel unhealthy. If you make healthy food choices, you are more likely to feel good all day.

Take conscious breaths throughout your day. When you do that, you not only send signals to your brain that everything is okay, but you will also lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Think about what you put on your skin. I use Beautycounter products because I know they are safe and that they are great for my skin. People don’t even read the ingredients of what they put on their face and body, and it’s so important that you do.

Unplug at least one hour before you go to sleep and practice gratitude for a great night’s rest.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Yes, the #1 thing people complain about after retirement is loneliness. It’s really helpful to unplug from your devices and connect with your community. This can be done at Unplug studios in L.A., or even just taking a cooking class. I think doing something new everyday with good people is the key to lasting happiness. You can also donate your time to community service to stay connected with people.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

Yes, anxiety and stress is the #1 emotion that teens across the U.S. feel. Who can blame them with all the hormones surging? I know I sound like a broken record, but getting into the habit of doing a five- or 10-minute meditation everyday will shift everything. Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. I always suggest doing the Unplug 30-Day Meditation Challenge to onboard teens so that they are guided and it is easy.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

I love Please Meditate by Olivia Rosewood, and I watched all of her videos after I read it. I was so inspired that when I was opening Unplug, I sent her a tweet, and she responded and agreed to meet with me. When she came to Unplug, I started telling her about my meditation philosophy and she agreed with everything I said. Then I showed her how I underlined everything from her book, and it turned out that I was quoting her philosophy and didn’t even realize it!

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To get every kindergartner in the U.S. and beyond to meditate. That would shift our world for generations to come.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Never confuse who you are with what you do.” — Herb Yalof (my father)

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

@suzeyalofschwartz

@unplugmeditation

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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