Suze Yalof Schwartz is the founder of Unplug Meditation studios in Los Angeles, USA, and the creator of the Unplug Meditation App. She was originally introduced to meditation through a 3-minute breathing technique to manage anxiety, and this simple technique changed her life forever. Suze’s 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. Clay Hamilton interviewed Suze in winter 2019.
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Briefly describe yourself as a meditation teacher.
I consider myself a meditation minimalist who makes it easy and effortless to access calm. I’m the Founder of Unplug Meditation studios in Los Angeles, the Unplug Meditation app, and I’m the author of Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation For Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers. My passion is teaching people how easy it is to build a practice they love so they’ll actually WANT to meditate every single day. I thrive off of listening to people’s personal stories about the benefits they’ve received from meditation.
How did you first learn to meditate and why/how did you become a meditation teacher?
In 2012, I was having an anxiety attack and my mother-in-law taught me a 3-minute breathing exercise in the moment that changed my life forever. It was so powerful in shifting my state that I decided to drop my 20+ year career in fashion and launch the world’s first drop-in meditation studio! I wanted to help other people learn the same easy stress management and help them connect to the stillness and silence within. I feel so lucky that I actually get to do this every day now.
What is the greatest benefit you personally get from meditation?
Honestly, I can’t just pick one – there are so many benefits I reap from my personal practice but here are my top 4:
- Meditation helps me slow down my day.
- It helps me focus.
- It helps me connect better with others and flow love.
- It helps me connect with my life’s purpose and feel motivated.
The one thing I’m still working on is patience…I haven’t fully arrived there yet!
What is your favourite meditation technique or form of practice?
I wake up every morning and R.C.M. – rise, click, meditate. I literally press the meditation of the day on the Unplug app before I get out of bed or do anything. It’s always 10 minutes or less, and a surprise and delight – I have the privilege of meditating with the world’s top talent right at my fingertips. Then I’ll drive to the office and do another 10 minutes in silence in my car before I walk through the door. I also try to take an Unplug class 3-4 times a week…I just can’t get enough!
How many times and how much time per day do you recommend students to meditate?
There are different schools of thought but personally, I believe that if you can squeeze in 10-20 minutes a day, it will make a shift in your brain and therefore in your life. But I also believe you should keep meditating throughout the day as needed. Whenever I feel myself getting activated, I stop whatever I’m doing and take a few minutes to breathe.
What do you think about guided meditation vs non-guided self-practice? Is one better or preferred, or does it depend on the individual, their goals and how much experience they have?
Whatever gets you excited to wake up in the morning and meditate, do that. Here’s the problem: many people don’t want to sit in silence by themselves just repeating their mantra – they don’t have the discipline for that even though it’s probably the most effective way to meditate. Therefore, when you’re guided, it makes it a lot easier to want to show up every day and practice. So I’m a firm believer in whatever works for the individual. If you teach meditation, I believe you need to be able to sit with yourself in silence, but if it’s just something you’re bringing into your life, I think guided meditation is a great way to help make it consistent.
Unrelated question: tell us about a memorable gift you have received.
One of my favorite gifts I ever received was from my executive assistant Jalina Wallace. She created this awesome white board that says: “Write down only one thing (big or small). Erase only when complete.” It really helps me get clear on my immediate goals and focus on one task at a time!
What meditation books have you read and admired, re-read, or do you recommend to others (they can be directly or indirectly related to meditation)?
I love all the books by davidji, Megan Monahan, Olivia Rosewood, Ben Decker, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, April Pfender, Light Watkins, Susan Kaiser Greenland and Mallika Chopra!
What books/courses/resources do you have available? What makes them special and how can they benefit a reader?
My book “Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation For Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers” really simplifies the practice and makes it easy for people to create their own. The 30-Day Meditation Challenge is an amazing way to start building a meditation practice you love. We make it super easy, modern and inspirational. We also have the Unplug Meditation Teacher Training program which is a 6-week program led by world renowned teacher davidji. It’s 5 weeks online and 1 week in-residence at Unplug in Santa Monica. The program really focuses on the science and benefits of meditation and gives you the tools and confidence to not only deepen your practice but be able to teach meditation effectively and share it with the world.
How can readers get in contact with you or find out more?
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[This interview is an extract, and there are more interview extracts here. CM Hamilton is currently compiling interviews with many meditations teachers for publication in a book in late 2019, which will include Suze’s full interview. More information at http://bit.ly/QAmeditation].