Episode 69: Vishen Lakhiani – The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
Do you want to use meditation to improve your work and life, but feel like your mind doesn’t want to slow down? Vishen Lakhiani, author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, was an ambitious entrepreneur who lost everything in the dot-com bust. Discovering active meditation, however, propelled him from making cold-calls to founding his own 200-person tech company. Discover the six steps of his own scientifically-validated meditation practice and how you can apply them daily, even if you thought meditation would never work for you.
- Meditation not working for you? Try @Vishen’s technique – detailed on this week’s #podcast
- Listening to our #intuition can help us make the sale, according to @Vishen #podcast
Book: The Code of the Extraordinary Mind
Bio: Vishen Lakhiani is one of the most influential personalities in personal growth today. A computer engineer and entrepreneur in education technology, he is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, a 200-person strong company that specializes in learning experience design, creating digital platforms and apps that power online academies in personal growth, mindfulness, wellbeing, productivity and more. He also a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and sits on the Innovation Board for XPRIZE Foundation. An internationally recognized speaker on personal growth and transformation, Vishen’s mission is to revolutionize the global education system by bringing new models of enhancing human potential to people everywhere and building a school for Humanity 2.0.
Peter: Welcome to the Bregman Leadership podcast. I’m Peter Bregman, your host and CEO of Bregman Partners. This podcast is part of my mission to help you get massive traction on the things that matter most.
With us today on the Bregman Leadership podcast is Vishen Lakhiani. He’s the founder and CEO of Mindvalley, which is a 200 person strong company that specializes in learning experience design, and he has written a very interesting book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, 10 Unconventional Laws To Redefine Your Life & Succeed On Your Own Terms. Vishen and I have spoken in the past. He is full of energy with some really interesting thoughts on how to reshape the way we look at the world and our experience of the world. Vishen, welcome to the Bregman Leadership podcast.
Vishen: Hi, Peter. Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.
Peter: Vishen, tell us why you wrote The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, and your personal story. What happened to you in life that you discovered that new ways of thinking would be useful and important for you?
Vishen: Well, I often hear from people that today’s education has failed them. I mean, we went to a school that taught us a very specific, linear pot to what they defined as success, but if you really look at the world today, most people are not truly successful. I mean they are struggling. We have, we live in a world where one third of American, according to the CDC, are clinically obese, where half of marriages end in divorce, where most, so many people live in debt, and so I don’t think schools were really prepared to teach us the things that truly lead to human happiness and fulfillment. I got obsessed with a new type of learning and that is basically personal growth. Now what happened was way back in 2002, I, following the conventional model of success had multi Silicon Valley. I was a computer engineer and I had these dreams to start a dot com company to make my first million, to raise VC funding and get this phenomenal new app idea out to the world, and very soon reality hit me and sometime in 2002, I found myself broke. I’ve lost all my money, the dot com bubble had burst and I was actually renting a sofa in Berkeley, California, trying to make ends meet.
I can’t remember what was going on at that time, but I got online in Google and I searched for an answer. I searched for hope and what I discovered was a class of meditation, so I flew to LA, I took this class and I came back to my life in the Bay Area where I had my dead end job. I was trying to rebuild my life after losing all my savings and my failed attempt as an entrepreneur. My dead end job was basically dialing for dollars. I had to pick up the phone and call up law firms and sell them on case management software and it was a horrible, horrible, horrible job, but what I found is that after experiencing these classes on meditation, I can get back in my job and I would just kick ass, Peter. I mean in one week, within one week of taking that class, I doubled my sales, and four months later, I’d been promoted three times. I was made Director of Sales at the company at the age of 26 even though I’d come in with hardly any experience and I credit that with learning to use meditation, learning to use personal growth tools that I started getting obsesses with, so I learned to use these personal growth tools to accelerate every aspect of my life, of my career, of my happiness levels.
Peter: When I actually think about the situation you were in at the time, struggling, and you weren’t sure what to do next, the idea of just sitting and meditating, which is really sitting and being present but not acting, is counterintuitive. Not the thing that’s going to propel your career. Could you share with us a little bit about how the meditation translated to the kind of success that you have?
Vishen: Well, it was a number of different techniques. The class I had taken back then, and again there are many different personal growth classes. I was exploring a number, but one particular class was a really old methodology called the Silver Method and it taught you not just how to meditate that they called it active meditation. In your meditation, you would practice tools such as self hypnosis, so that you could change belief systems. You would practice creative visualization. You would see problems disappear and yourself moving towards goals. You would practice auto suggestion, and the most mysterious of all was you would tap into your intuition and this was the one that I found had a really mysterious impact on sales.
Now I know some people may not believe this so I can only tell you what I experience, whether you decide that this is purely coincidental or this is real is up to the listener, but in my job, okay so we had to go to the San Francisco Public Library, check out the Yellow Pages, then I had to call every lawyer in my designated city, so my city was San Antonio, Texas. They had to check out the San Antonio Yellow Pages, call every lawyer from A to Z for that particular week, and then the next week, they would assign me to a different city.
Now, after this class, what I would do is rather than randomly call the lawyers in order of their name, I would simply look at every name, run my finger down the Yellow Pages and I would feel a hunch of who I have to call, and just following these hunches doubled my sales. It literally doubled my sales overnight, and so I just stopped the linear A to Z method and I would go with them, go into a meditative level of mind, run my finger down the Yellow Pages, call the names for which I felt something, a simple hunch.
That was just one technique.
Peter: It’s really interesting.
Vishen: If you want me to be honest, that was what was going on.
Peter: You allowed your rational Excel spreadsheet mind to quiet and you looked at the list and you looked at a name and you you felt I’m going to call this name, and then that made a very big difference.
Vishen: Right, right, and that was just one application, so there was another application. I had bad skin. A dermatologist couldn’t heal my skin, and I’ve had this problem for five years. My skin just kept erupting in pimples. Now, again learning these methods and reading the books I read, I learned that the skin is the organ of the body most susceptible to hypnosis and that you could hypnotize yourself so I go within and I would visualize while in the state of meditation, visualize my skin healing and in five weeks, I healed my skin and my acne, which had been with me for five years, just stopped. That was just another example of the type of success I was having, and this is what, it was these successes that made me so motivated to start a company in personal growth because I thought, “Well, there’s obviously a massive education gap here that somebody needs to fill.”
Peter: You talk about a meditation method that you’ve developed and I’m jumping to the punchline here, but it’s the Six Phase meditation process.I thought it was interesting and I would love for you to share it with our listeners.
Vishen: Absolutely, so now let’s go forward 10 years from my experience in that sales job. I had 100 employees, 3 million people learning from our various apps and online academies, and my meditation practice have now expanded. It had turned into something so much more beautiful than what I had initially started out with, and because Mindvalley was publishing some 200 authors, I had the benefit of learning from a lot of really phenomenal mentors, so I wanted to develop my own meditation. Now here’s the thing about me and maybe some of your listeners might feel the same way. I am your stereotypical ADD entrepreneur, like my brain is perpetually firing. I almost flunked out of college because my instructor spoke too slow. When I watch YouTube videos, any type of YouTube speech, I watch it on double speed. You can imagine what on earth’s going on in my brain, and traditional meditation just had never worked for me, so the Six Phase is based on the principle of active versus passive meditation, and honestly, many entrepreneurs, many people who say I just cannot meditate, they love this because it’s not about clearing your mind. It’s not about trying to just focus on your breath. It’s not about trying to just relax.
All of that happens. Your mind does get more still. You do occasionally might stop by focusing on your breath but that’s when the fun begins. You go into Six Phases of thoughts, which I call transcendent practices, transcendent meaning they take you away from the physical world and get you to think about what’s going on within. These Six Phases, through numerous studies to actually elevate one’s performance.
Now the first phase is simply a phase that I developed based on compassion meditation practices. A lot of this is used in Buddhism, so in this phase, you feel yourself connected to all life and the entire planet. Science has actually shown that this specific act of compassion meditation actually creates kinder human beings. When you go forth in the world, you’re actually nicer and kinder to people and you’re more immune to criticism or you’re immune to someone cutting you off in traffic or a rude waiter. It just doesn’t jar you as much.
Now I’m not going to tell you exactly what the phase looks like because you can Google Six Phase and you will find so many lectures and videos. You can get Mindvalley’s own mobile app and the Six Phase comes with it, and you can just listen and the app will guide you through it. I’m just going to give an overall overview and it’s really available all over the internet. Just search for Six Phase Vishen Lakhiani.
Now the first phase as I said is a compassion meditation practice with its roots in Buddhism and it takes only two minutes. Then we go on to phase two. Now phase two is based on another really, really, really powerful scientific practice, and that is gratitude. Now, gratitude, according to numerous studies, is the number one characteristic of anybody that is most associated with well being, so all human characteristics, gratitude has the highest correlation with well being according to a recent 2015 study. For your personal life, for your work life and for yourself, many people forget the self gratitude. You express gratitude, being so freaking fit, of having such a big heart, for being such a wonderful father. That’s phase two.
Then we go on to phase three. Now phase three is based on another scientifically validated practice, and this is forgiveness. Science has shown that when you forgive, your heart health increases. Studies have shown that forgiveness leads to better endurance. Another study showed that forgiveness leads to people being able to jump higher vertically, which I guess has some implications in basketball, but it’s amazing what forgiveness does for the body. It actually seems to improve your body’s performance but also your heart health, but it also creates a state in mind where you feel more peaceful and connected to the world around you and less of a victim, so third phase, I forgive someone from my past.
Now that’s the first three phases. Now the first three phases are all associated with present state feelings of happiness, peace and forgiveness, but now we go to the second part of the Six Phase, and this is about your future vision. You see, here’s my problem with regular meditation. Often, regular meditation is all about being happy in the now. It’s all about being peaceful, but there’s a large number of us who, while we are happy, we want to do more in the world. We are the achievers, the strivers, the builders, the makers and sometimes, meditation seems counter to that, and so in phase four, five and six, you’re focused on what you’re going to bring forth into the world as part of your mission, as part of your purpose, as part of your creative pursuit.
Now phase four is simply create a visualization. I see my life two years ahead and I see what I would like to have in my life two years ahead, and I feel the feelings of joy for having those now. I might see the new office space I want to move my team into. I might see that new book I want to write and I feel the pleasure of being in that space, of completing the book and handing it to my publisher. That’s phase four.
Phase five is where given your three year goal, you see today unfold perfectly for you. In phase five, I now bring my attention to what’s going to happen today and I see this day unfold beautifully in a series of different moments. There’s the moment of me driving to work, great I see myself having an incredible drive, great music, a wonderful podcast, no traffic. Then I see the moment of getting to work and joining in my morning scrum with my team. I see incredible ideas emerging. Everyone is friendly. People are excited. We are gung ho about the new project that’s emerging. I see my lunch and having a phenomenal meal, really bonding with whoever my lunch partner is that day, and so I’m going to see this all the way until the day ends and it’s time for me to go to bed, so I see every moment in my day unfold perfectly.
This too has been scientifically validated, and what they found is that when you set these intentions for your day to unfold perfectly, when you do go through your day, when you do go, you are less likely to notice on the bad incidents, like say the waiter messing up your order, but to then remember and focus on the good incident, such as the ambience or the quality of your company. That’s phase five.
Finally, I go to phase six. Now, phase six is the only one that has not yet been validated by science. Phase six however is interesting because it comes from humanities, religious beliefs, and religious beliefs suggest that we often feel better when we believe that there is a higher power looking after. You don’t have to be religious but in phase six, you simply state a prayer or you ask for guidance or support from whatever higher power you believe in. If you’re an atheist, you might say an affirmation or speak to your own inner self and ask for support and to be motivated and charged up for whatever goal you’re going to pursue that day.
That’s phase six. Now when you put it all together, you have a meditation practice that is not about clearing your mind, but it’s about actively engaging what you seek to accomplish in life and what makes you happy and focusing on these things on meditation practice.
Peter: Is there a role in the meditation practice for clearing your mind or just focusing on the breath? Do you do that before? Do you do that after or is that really not a part of the practice?
Vishen: You get the same benefits. You see, if you really look at meditation and you try to break it down into what’s going on, what’s going on is that your brain waves states are changing. The simplistic model is that you’re going from beta waking frequency, to alpha, to theta, which is the meditation, but it’s actually a little bit more complex than that. There are 50 different brain wave frequencies right now, not frequencies sorry, 50 different elements of your brain, of the electrical waves in your brain that scientists now measure, from alpha amplitude to waking delta states to waking theta states to brain coherence. I think we are still, as humankind goes, we’re still trying to put together this map but what we found is that whether you clear your mind and focus on your breathing or you’re relaxed and you think of something you’re grateful for or you’re relaxed and you think about someone you want to forgive, you are getting phenomenal benefits.
People tend to think of meditation as being a particular act of focusing on your breath and clearing your mind. That’s not true. It’s not true anymore. Meditation is so much larger than that. We don’t truly understand it that there are different approaches to different folks and my approach actually keeps me extremely relaxed, extremely peaceful but I do not seek to focus on my breath, nor do I even think that that is necessary.
Peter: Is there anything else that people need to know to try this? I think it’s really interesting and I think as the Buddha said, or you know I didn’t hear him say it, but as I’ve heard that he said, which is don’t take my word for it. Try it.
Vishen: That’s right.
Peter: Really just sit and do the meditation and see the impact on you. You said earlier, “I don’t know if people are going to believe this or not, but this is the truth. This is what happened for me.” If we take belief out of it, what you want to say to listeners is try it and see for yourself. My question to you is if we want to put this to the test in a sense, how long should they try it for, how long should the meditation last? How many days should they do it before they could expect some kind of shift or change that they can use to evaluate it?
Vishen: Sure, so again, Six Phase, if you are new to meditation, Six Phase is something that you’re not going to just jump into it and do it right now. Some people will get it right but if you want to maximize your odds of success, what I suggest you do is that I released a free course on this meditation. I believe, I think the URL is mindvalley.com/extraordinary. If you go to mindvalley.com/extraordinary, it is right there. I believe you can log in. There’s also, if you, in my book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, I believe there’s a passcode that lets you get this free course. Now what happens in the course is that I guide you from day one to day six and each day, we increase the complexity just a little bit so you become really familiar with it.
If someone is interested in experiencing this and going through it, just go to mindvalley.com/extraordinary and you’ll get the free digital course that accompanies the book and I believe chapter 11 of this digital course is all about the Six Phase and it guides you through the entire process.
Peter: Great. Vishen, thank you so much for sharing your book with us and sharing this idea with us, the meditation. It’s certainly worth a try and to sort of experiment with it and we’ll put that link in our show notes as well. It’s been a pleasure having you on the Bregman Leadership Podcast. Thanks so much.
Vishen: Great. Thank you so much.
Peter: If you enjoyed this episode of the Bregman Leadership Podcast, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. For more information about the Bregman Leadership Intensive as well as access to my articles, videos and podcasts, visit peterbregman.com. Thank you to Clare Marshall for producing this episode and to Brian Wood, who created our music. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the next great conversation.
Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs (including the Bregman Leadership Intensive), coaching, and as a consultant to CEOs and their leadership teams. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Four Seconds. To receive an email when he posts, click here.