September 21, 2013
[02:12] How Vishen Started to Create Apps
[04:10] The Omvana App
[06:18] What Happens When You Use Omvana
[10:16] Six Phase Meditation
[25:53] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield, and our guest today is the founder and the CEO of something called Mindvalley, which is a really cool company. You can check them out in the link that I'll put in the show notes, or you can go to mindvalley.com. But our guest's name is Vishen Lakhiani. And hopefully I didn't butcher your name too badly there, Vishen. And he has brought together this really ground-breaking company that's comprised of innovators, and artists, and technologists, and dreamers from all over the world. And what they do is create solutions, kind of like the type of solutions we're going to talk about today. Specifically today, we're going to talk about some apps that they've developed to enhance your sleep, enhance your relaxation, even teach you to meditate, if that's something that you're interested in, something that you want to get into a little bit more, perhaps learn about. And Vishen is a wealth of knowledge on all of this. I have both of their apps, their app called Dormio and another one called Omvana, installed on my phone. I've been playing with them. They're extremely cool and right up your alley if you're a fan of kind of biohacking the whole relaxation component of life. So, Vishen, thanks for coming on the call today.
Vishen: Thank you, Ben.
Ben: So, tell me a little bit about why it is that you decided to create apps for sleep, and meditation, and relaxation, and things of that nature?
Vishen: Well, the first thing is, Ben, I started out my entire company because I was a meditation instructor in New York. Before becoming a meditation instructor, I was a stressed-out computer engineer working for a Silicon Valley business, running the New York office, and life was just absolutely insane. My health was deteriorating, my relationships sucked, I was putting on weight, and the stress at work was really, really, really ruining my enjoyment of life. Now, I took a meditation class, fell in love with it, and discovered, wow, there is something to this. It changed the way I worked, it changed my relationships. My sales shot through the roof after practicing meditation. I mean, it seems crazy, right? I stopped stressing out about my sales numbers, and they ended up shooting up automatically. Now, this got me fascinated with meditation. I decided to really dive into this field. I became certified, I was teaching classes on the side, one class or two in New York over the weekend. And then, I realized that I needed to build a website to get more students into my class. Now, that website I built got so successful that it spawned Mindvalley, which is now one of the world's largest distributors of meditation programs. We have apps, we have festivals, we have numerous websites, and about 130 people working for us in offices around the world.
Ben: Yeah. I noticed you even have festival called Awesomeness Fest, which is just about the best name for a festival that I've ever heard.
Vishen: What I'm all about, Ben, is basically teaching people how to hack their health, their mind, their consciousness so they can unleash their inner superhero. I guess that's the best way of putting it.
Ben: I love it. So, tell me about this app, Omvana, which is your meditation app. How does it work? Like what happens when I download that? I mean, do I just press play on my phone and go into zen more? Or what goes on?
Vishen: Well, when you download Omvana, what it gives you access to, if you were to download it right now, you'd immediately get five really powerful meditations. There's one on Gold setting, there's a beautiful one by speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, there's a beautiful one called “A Smiling Mind Meditation” by QiGong Master Lee Holden, whom you see on PBS. So, we gather at these amazing thinkers and philosophers. And what we are building is a default platform for meditations. So, almost every good meditation that's out there in the world, we are putting on this platform. When you download it, you get access to a library. Right now, we have about 250 tracks, and you can choose what you want to listen to. There are meditations from philosophers, meditations from taichi masters, meditation with just the sound of a running stream. Now, the best part about Omvana though is not just the variety. It's that it comes with a DJ deck, so you can mix meditations. Every meditation sound out there is either vocal, so it's either someone guiding you through an experience, or it's what we call ambient, meaning it's a binaural sound designed to make you relax or it's just a sound of nature. What Omvana
allows you to do is to mix and combine them both. So, you can take Gabrielle Bernstein’s, and she's an amazing woman and an amazing author, and she writes books for women, women empowerment. You can take her meditation on getting rid of negative thoughts and combine it with the sound of a running brook, or combine it with specific binaural audios that lower you brainwave frequency, or combine it with some really amazing music from a world-class DJ. And you could use her vocals for anything you want, whether it's relaxation, or to listen to in the car, or to fall asleep to.
Ben: So, tell me about how this works. You talk about binaural beats and brainwaves. But what exactly is going on if, say, I download this Omvana app, and I put on my headphones, and I start to listen, what's going on in a physiological level here?
Vishen: Okay. Well, it depends on what sound you're listening to. So, for example, on Omvana, you'll find certain sounds which are nothing more than cultural sounds or sounds of nature. It could be a Tibetan bell. It could be the sound, I mean, we have one track called “Meowing Cats”, and people love that. And some people play this as ambient sounds in their space, some people use this an ambient sound when they're doing their own meditation. Okay, Ben, there's also more advanced sounds that you can listen to. For example, binaural beats. Now, binaural beats work because they send a different frequency of sound in each of your ears. You have to be using headphones when you're listening to them. We recommend Apple's default headphones.
Now, based on the frequency gap between the sounds going in each ear, they cause you to go into a relaxed state of mind. Now, what happens is your brainwave frequency actually slows down. Right now, all of you, as you're listening to this, you're in what we call the beta frequency, which means your brainwaves are pulsating in about 21 cycles per second. With binaural sounds or during, say, light meditation, it falls down between 10 to 14 cycles per second. Now, scientists are finding that when your brainwaves go down the 10 to 14 cycles per second and when you're in the state of meditation, remarkable benefits occur. For example, I'm reading you something from CBS News. People who meditate these days come from all walks of life and aren't necessarily weird new agers or pretentious actors. Students, lawyers, Westpoint cadets, athletes, prisoners, government officials all meditate. It's supposed to help depression, control pain, increase longevity, slow down cancers, invigorate the immune system, and significantly reduce blood pressure.
Time Magazine recently wrote that meditation can sometimes be used to replace Viagra. Now that's crazy, right? Because if you think about it, all that's happening is you're reducing your brainwave frequency so you go from waking state and stress to relaxation. And all of a sudden, physiologically, your body is changing. Literally as this happens, if you were to get hooked up to machines that measure neurological responses, you will notice actual changes in your body. And numerous studies are showing that these changes are incredibly, incredibly beneficial. All you've got to do is get on Google News right now and type in “meditation studies”, and you will see almost every single week, there's a new study showing one of the benefits of meditation. Now, you can learn to meditate yourself, right? But binaural beats help you because they automatically lower your brainwave frequency.
Now, as the technology progresses, people are releasing more and more different types of technology. So, there's one now called isochronic beats, you can get those tracks on Omvana as well, or monaural beats. All of these are designed to shift your brainwave frequency into the alpha level, and some of them shift your brainwaves into what is called the theta level, which is an even further slowing down of brainwave activity. This is the meditation. But you've got to be a little bit experienced to go to theta and still be conscious. Most people will just simply fall asleep.
Ben: And what was the name of those beats that you said that bring you into alpha?
Ben: Om Harmonics.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. Now, let's say that I'm listening and I've never meditated before. When do I do it? Is this something that I would do in the morning before work, in the evening prior to bed, or when is best?
Vishen: So, here's what's really cool. You can do it any time you want. But what we recommend is that you do it in the morning. And, if you want, I'd like to, in five minutes or so, teach your audience a very simple practical meditation they can do in the morning.
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely. Walk us through it.
Vishen: Okay. So, this is a meditation which I'm known for. It's called the “Six Phase Meditation”. Six Phase because you're going to go through six different mental exercises all in a relaxed state of mind, and all these exercises are scientifically proven to change your state and completely shift the way you function on a daily basis. And when you do this over a period of about 21 days to a month, you start noticing things changing about you. You feel higher empathy, you feel more compassion, your happiness levels go up. But one of the weirdest that happen is you start being able to observe your reactions before you react. When a guy cuts you off in traffic, rather than going, “Mother [censored],” it's kind of weird. It's like there are two yous, you are able to observe yourself getting angry, and thus shut down the anger before if comes out of your mouth. It's really bizarre, but it allows you to get a lot more in control of your emotional state. And this has amazing benefits throughout your life. Not just if you are running a business, but if you're in a relationship, it prevents you from becoming volatile.
Now, here's how the meditation works. Now, you can get this on Omvana, and I believe it's free or it's $0.99. The prices sometimes change. So, forgive me, I can't remember. But it's called Six Phase. And if you go to Omvana, you can get it from the Vocal Store. So, on Omvana, there's a store, click on “Vocal”, and look for Six Phase Meditation. And here, you'll have my voice guiding you through these six phases. Now, you can then combine this with any kind of background sound that you want to make it work for you. Now, here's what happens in the six phases. We're going to ask you to go through six really rapid exercises. The whole thing takes 20 minutes.
The first is Compassion. And what we ask you to do is to simply picture that there's a white light emanating from your body and enveloping not just you, but your entire room. Then you see this light expand to your building, your city block, your city, your country, then the entire world. And as you do this, you simply repeat a really powerful statement, which has its roots in Buddhism. The statement is, “May you be free of pain and sorrow. May you be well and happy.” And as you picture this white light emanating from you, you see it touching other people. The people in your home, the people in your neighborhood. And it only takes about two minutes to do this. And eventually, you see yourself connected to the entire world.
Now, there's a scientific benefit to this. Okay. So, for example, there's a psychologist called Richard Davidson who works at Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison. What he found is that this particular style of exercise called compassion meditation actually conditions, to quote him, “Alterations in brain functions were observed after just a total of seven hours of training.” And he said, “This is remarkable.” Now, you don't have to do this for seven hours, but just doing this on a daily basis changes the way your brain reacts. And it causes you to develop more kindness to other human beings. So, that's just the first phase, right?
Then you go on to the second phase. And the second phase is my favorite. It's called Gratitude. What happens in the second phase is you simply express gratitude for five things in the last 24 hours or one week that made you happy. Just five things. Now, here's the crazy study about gratitude, right? So, in a study by Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, what he found was he had people maintain a gratitude journal and for seven days, just write down things that made them happy. Now, what he found was really interesting. He found that after about a week, participants were 2% happier than before. But that happiness kept rising. After a month, they were 5% happier. And after six months, they were a full 9% happier than before from this one exercise they had done one year ago. Sorry, six months ago, journaling. So, gratitude causes happiness levels to go up all the time. And think about it, 9% happy. You don't have to get 9% more income or 9% more quality time with your lover. It's just a simple exercise of expressing gratitude. Now, imagine if you did this every single day. Okay. So that's phase two.
Phase three is also really powerful. Phase three is about forgiveness. So, what happens is you bring to mind someone who had rubbed you the wrong way and you simply tell them, “I forgive you.” And then you tell them, “And I ask you to forgive me.” That's all. Now, studies have shown that when you forgive someone, you don't just make that other person happier, you make yourself happier because you've made yourself responsible for your own happiness. One study showed that people who talk about forgiveness during psychotherapy sessions experience greater improvements than those who don't. One study on the heart found that forgiving someone for betrayal improves your blood pressure and your heart rate and decreases workload for the heart. It's insane, right? It explains why Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
So, again, I'll repeat the first three phases. Kindness and Compassion. See yourself emanating a white light that connects with everything. Number two, Gratitude. Number three, Forgiveness. But now, we come to the fun part. So, for those of you who are competitive and are thinking that the first three phases are kind of soft and fluffy, let's get to the really crazy part. Now in phase four, we practice something called visualization. This too is scientifically backed. So, there's an Australian psychologist called Alan Richardson who did a remarkable study on visualization. He took three groups of people who played basketball. The first group practiced their three-pointer shots. Sorry, their two-pointer shots on the court for 20 minutes a day. The second group simply visualized themselves making those two-pointer shots, but no real practice. The third group did absolutely nothing. No practice in the court, no visualization. Now what Alan Richardson found is that there was a significant improvement in the group who visualized almost as good as the group who actually practiced on the court. Now that's crazy when you think about it because your basketball shots improve just by rehearsing in your mind.
So, think about what that implies, right? It implies that if you could rehearse other things in your mind, see your future, see your work day unfolding, this might have significant improvements in that particular reality. So, what happens in phase four is we ask you to visualize your life three years into the future. Now why three years? It's because we as human beings tend to overestimate what we can do in one year, but we underestimate what we can do in three years. So, we ask you to take a three-year stance and to see the most amazing, glorious life you can picture for yourself in three years. See yourself with six-pack abs, see yourself running your own business, see yourself travelling around the world. Picture it three years down the future. So, if today is September 2013, you're looking at September 2016. That's phase four.
Now we go to phase five. And in phase five, you simply visualize today. You visualize how you would lead today to unfold for those wicked dreams of three years into the future to come true. So, you see yourself commuting to work in the most pleasant way possible, having amazingly meaningful conversations in work, having an incredible lunch, doing your projects in a remarkable way, completed work in time, coming home early, having an amazing dinner with your spouse. You see that perfect day unfold. That's phase five.
And finally, you go to phase six. Phase six is called The Blessing. And here, all you do is you talk to whatever higher power you believe in. And if you're an atheist, it doesn't matter. Feel like you're drawing in your own inner strength and you simply picture a golden light starting with your head, going all the way down to your body, blessing you with whatever power, abilities, fortitude you need to just get out there and have an absolutely kick-ass day. So, that's the Six Phase, and that's what I do every single day. It's made me who I am.
Ben: So, you do that in the morning when you wake up?
Vishen: Every single day. Yes. It's the single most important thing I do every single day. And a lot of other people who practice meditation say this about meditation. I mean, Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul, USA Today labeled him as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Americans In The World Today. And I saw him speak at an event, and he said, “I don't do shit 'til I meditate.”
Vishen: So, it is a really powerful practice.
Ben: Interesting. Everything that you just walked through are things that I've personally kind of experimented with here and there, but I've never put them together into one long meditation phase like you described. So, I'll have to hit rewind and listen again after our recording just so I can get this beat into my brain. And I would encourage listeners perhaps grab the app and have Vishen walk you through it. This is really fascinating and you're a wealth of knowledge. I want to ask you about sleep because you have another app called Dormio that, if I'm not mistaken, that's designed for sleep, correct?
Vishen: Yes, it is.
Ben: Now how is that different than the kind of binaural beats that one might listen to for something like meditation? Is it a totally different physiological effect?
Vishen: It is quite different. Now, the thing about Dormio is both Omvana, and Dormio, and all our app pool from the same library of tracks. However, with Dormio, the app only pools sleep tracks, tracks which are specifically designed to put you to sleep. And the app has certain features that optimize battery life and allow you to set up a sleep timer so that your iPhone doesn't drain its battery as you drift off. So, the same tracks that you find on Dormio, you'll also find on Omvana. Dormio just gives you features because you're going to be using your phone in a different way. For example, you're going to need your phone to shut down automatically when you fall asleep. Now, the tracks in Dormio range from specific tracks that slow down your brainwave frequency to what is called the theta and delta level of mind. Delta is sleep. So, when you're in the delta level of mind, your brainwave is pulsating at about four cycles per second. That's sleep. So, the tracks slow you down beyond alpha and they're designed to knock you out. And there's also guided exercises that take you into sleep. You'll also find audios to hack your sleep. For example, audios to help you lucid dream. So, for example, there's a wonderful hypnosis track over there that's designed to help you experience lucid dreaming, which is a really fun experience if you've ever had it.
Ben: I'm interested in that. What's the name of that particular track?
Vishen: Give me a second. I'm just pulling it up on Dormio right now. I think it's just called “Lucid Dreams”.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. I've experimented a little bit with some nootropics, like Alpha Brain, for lucid dreaming, but never actually tried a noise on the phone for something like that. That's really interesting.
Vishen: And then, for example, you also find hypnosis tracks designed to put you to sleep. So, there's a wonderful easy sleep hypnosis, there is a wonderful track on lucid dreaming, and there's some interesting sound technologies such as Monaural, Monaural Sleep Sync. That track uses a different kind of sound technology. I'm not the expert, so I can't describe how that works. But a different kind of sound technology that also, some studies done by the Brazilian government, have shown causes alterations in your brain. And this particular version of monaural beats is designed to actually knock you out, help you sleep.
Ben: Wow. So, basically, you download the app, which is free, and then essentially you can just purchase any of these tracks? Did I lose you?
Vishen: Oh, yes. I'm back now.
Ben: There we go. So, what I was asking was you essentially purchase any of these tracks inside the app, which you can download for free?
Ben: Got it. Interesting. You know what would be fascinating, I don't know if you've ever done this, but have you ever tried to self-quantify or somehow incorporate self-quantification into apps like this? Like some kind of a… for example, you have these motion devices that track how deeply you might sleep when you're using the app or heart rate variability devices that track your heart rate variability in response to biofeedback. Have you ever thought about incorporating self-quant like that?
Vishen: We are. So, we have a lot of apps coming up in the future. One of the apps that we're doing actually measures your sleep state and how well you're sleeping. We have another app that hooks up to a special kind of glasses that you put over your eyes with your eyes closed, and it uses pulsating lights to actually induce deep states of mind. We are also looking to build apps that can connect with various biofeedback devices that can measure brainwave frequency. So, you don't just feel like you're meditating. It actually shows you the slow down in your brainwaves.
Ben: That's fascinating. I think that you're barking up the right tree with that stuff because I know that our audience is big time into heart rate variability measurements, and sleep tracking, and things of that nature, and it would be very cool to be able to combine some of what you've built into Dormio and Omvana and kind of have it all in one app, so to speak. So, it's fascinating stuff. We're definitely going to have to get you back on once those apps come out because I think that's something our audience would be really interested in. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Ben: Perfect. Well, folks, I'll put a link to all of this in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com. And again, the actual web URL, oh, go ahead.
Vishen: Ben, I'm sorry. I was going to say, I realized that probably only about 20% of your audience actually have an iPhone. Well, you can also get Omvana for the web on omvana.com. Omvana for the web is going to be launching in about a month. And you can already get Dormio for the web on dormioapp.com.
Ben: Okay. Perfect. I'll link to all this in the show notes for folks. And then, you can also go to, it's mindvalley.com to check out some of the other things that you guys have going on, right?
Ben: Perfect. Well, Vishen, thank you so much for coming on the call today.
Vishen: Great! Thank you, Ben.
If you’ve ever wanted to sleep better, learn how to meditate, enhance your relaxation, or even delve in the world of cutting-edge mental techniques such as lucid dreaming and enhanced alpha brain wave activation, then today’s episode is for you!
Vishen Lakhiani is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley — a ground-breaking company comprised of innovators, artists, technologist and dreamers from over 30 countries around the world.
Vishen works with authors, thinkers, and leaders who have pioneered new ways of doing traditional things: parenting, entrepreneurship, spiritual growth, self-development and more. Mindvalley’s team of programmers and marketers then work to build the systems to take these ideas mainstream.
Resources we mention during this episode include:
The meditation app Omvana
The sleep app Dormio
And here’s one extra for you. I’ve personally been implementing both the MindValley apps and also a morning journaling technique from FiveMinuteJournal.com to enhance my relaxation, goal-setting and focus each day.