In NewsWhistle’s weekly question-and-answer series, Clara Morgan speaks with some of the world’s top influencers and finds out more about their lives and careers.
This week, Clara speaks with author, motivational speaker, and life coach Farzana Jaffer Jeraj who has been working in the field of self-development for over 18 years and coaches professional athletes, A-list actors, executives, and politicians around the world.
Farzana began her career in coaching and speaking being mentored by Anthony Robbins, one of the best speakers in the world. She also studied communications, negotiation and mediation at the Justice Institute of BC.
In addition to those studies, she holds several certifications in coaching, NLP, trance, and hypnotherapy at Erickson College, Coastal Academy, The International Medical and Dental Hypnosis Association, and The International Association of Counsellors and Therapists.
As a coach, Farzana assists people with getting their sleep back, dissolving anxiety, building confidence and self-esteem, stopping smoking, healthy habits, creative flow, powerful communication, public speaking, helping people being their best self, and much more. Farzana also currently teaches classes in applied Neuroplasticity, Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy.
A more recent endeavor is that of an author. Farzana kicked off her writing career as a contributor for 20 Beautiful Women, Volume 2: 20 More Stories That Will Heal Your Soul, Ignite Your Passion, And Inspire Your Divine Purpose, which is a collection of personal short stories from 20 authors, speakers, and life coaches bonding together for the common goal of sisterhood, and to transform women from the inside out.
She then went on to write her own book I Cheat at Meditation, which is a lighthearted guide to boosting your mind power without spending decades to master the technique.
Says Farzana: “It’s taken me 30 years of meditating to realize that it doesn’t have to take 30 years to get good at it.”
Farzana Jaffer Jeraj
1. Farzana, you combine being an author, a motivational speaker, and a life coach. How do you find the time? Can you share any tips for maximizing your time at work and at home?
I guess that is the beauty of it. My time is my own and I’ve learned I work best in a model where I can immerse myself into one thing at a time. I chunk the different aspects of my life in ways that allow me to dive into each of the different roles with ease. While I joke about working a hundred hours a week so that I don’t have to work 40-hour weeks, I always set aside a good amount of down time for myself. I wouldn’t be me without my down time or the time spent with the people I care about.
Every morning upon waking I meditate, write, do some yoga, and write some more before either seeing clients or taking care of correspondence. I only see clients two days a week, and I write two days a week. A few of my evenings a week go to speaking engagements, and when I travel I allow myself to have an adventure. Most of all, everything I do has an aspect of fun and playfulness in it. I am very lucky and also very particular about those I keep close in my life.
2. You used to be a fashion model, Farzana; what inspired you to leave your modelling career to pursue your current career as an author, motivational speaker, and life coach? Are there any specific experiences from your years as a model that you have been able to apply in your current career?
Believe it or not, it was the motivational speaking that got me into modelling. I had always been very shy and introverted and my first modelling job was making a video for John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, when I was attending a Tony Robbins seminar. After that first shoot, I signed with an international agency and the rest was history.
Being the shy, picked-on kid that I was, modelling forced me out of my comfort zone. It forced me to embrace health and fitness in ways that brought me endless energy, which definitely comes in handy. Modelling certainly allowed me to see the world and meet people of many interesting cultures and backgrounds. Most of all being a model taught me that my physical body is only one small percentage of who I am. Who I really am is based on my beliefs and values.
3. Please tell us an instance of a life story where you have had the chance to make a real difference for somebody? Why has this story stayed with you?
I think I’m really spoiled in that I get to see people remember who they really are and step into that self, every single day. To me, it’s all about getting people that sparkle back in their eyes.
There is one lady that stood out to me. She was almost 80 years old and to say that she had suffered trauma after trauma in her life would be an understatement. She was picked on by her family, her peers, abandoned at a convent by her parents as a child, and the first bully she ever stood up to with the words “that’s not very nice” committed suicide that night. She also had an infant sibling die of SIDS when she was a little girl. Her husband abused her, her son abused her, and I could go on, but your get the idea.
When she came to me, she couldn’t trust anyone. She had a tremor in her body, hands, and speech. Her eyes darted and shifted with unease and she had severe agoraphobia. In three sessions she was trusting of me, taking the bus, going for walks and smiling. Even better, she made eye contact with me and even though she was a people pleaser, she told me “no” when she didn’t like something in one of our sessions. She was extraordinary and a reminder to me that you are never too old to change yourself or your life.
4. Can you tell us about a certain celebrity you have enjoyed working with? And the difference you made in their life and career?
I would love to name my celebrity clients, I’m really proud of them, but the reason they hire me is because I don’t name them. I can share a story though. There was an actress I was working with a few years ago. She had been a lead in several major television series and was also a platinum recording artist. When she came to me, it was for a tune up. A friend had suggested a session with me. She was tired, burnt out, and work had slowed for her. That “it factor” that gets the casting directors going was not present.
We had an intense coaching session and then I taught her how to cheat at meditation. I supported her in remembering the fire that was in herself. Coming from a place of passion, possibility and fun, her magnetic force was back, and the I Cheat at Meditation technique helped to solidify that for her. That next week she landed a leading role on an even bigger TV series.
5. What are the highlights of your new book I Cheat at Meditation? What distinguishes it from other books on boosting your mind power?
What really sets this book and technique aside is that I guarantee (once you’ve learned how to master the technique) you will be able to consistently access the deeper restorative brainwave levels of meditation every single time in 60 seconds. We all have a minute here and there, and the more you practice this the easier it will get, and you’ll immediately begin to see the benefits that life-time meditators experience. What I’m most proud of is that this technique is so easy to learn that even young children can do it. If you can open and close your eyes you can do this. If you can breathe, you can do this.
Let’s not forget there are pictures. People really seem to love a book with illustrations! There is also accompanying audio to help you get the most out of your meditation. Finally, the whole book was written in a playful conversational tone to make it as accessible as possible.
6. You are scheduled to speak at the International Association of Professional Hypnotists Hypno-Expo 2016 on May 13th. Tell us how hypnosis can be used as a technique to bring about positive change in someone’s life?
While hypnosis is one of many tools in my kit, it is one of the most powerful and efficient. Would you believe that approximately 95% of your mind is driven by your subconscious? That means that we use only 5% consciously. That subconscious part is powerful and one of its primary functions is to serve and protect us, but if you think of your mind like a computer, sometimes your mind needs a software upgrade.
For example, you want to get in shape and eat better. You’re hungry and even though there is a bowl of juicy sweet apples on the counter, you still go to the freezer or climb up to that high shelf or cupboard for some chocolate. Hypnosis is best used in the moments that you know what you want, you know how to do it, you have the capability to do so, but for some reason you still don’t take action towards achieving your goal. With therapeutic hypnosis, people are empowered to get that 95% of their minds working for them! It is an exceptional tool for anxiety, sleep, situational depression, overcoming mental blocks and obstacles, changing habits, and so much more.
7. Tell us something that people do not know about you.
I am an obsessive DIY’er and an extracurricular addict. I want things to be made exactly the way I want them; and I have a need to learn new skills all the time. Whether it’s performing at an open mic, making a wedding cake for a friend, making jewelry, making comfortable but classy suiting, refining my own line of skin care, knitting or crocheting clothes for my niece and her dolls, making the perfect handbag or computer case – I love to get my hands in there. In my spare time you’ll often find me in my basement experimenting and creating different things whilst binge watching a series like Sense8 or Doctor Who on Netflix while getting my creative on.
8. How would you define your style? Where do you find inspiration?
It’s about feeling comfortable, strong and beautiful. I have always liked the classic timeless style of Valentino and Escada for formal wear and BCBG’s runway line is always a great go-to at a friendly price point, but lately I’m addicted to Roland Mouret dresses. That over-the-knee-length, structured fit seems to capture the way I want to feel when I’m working or speaking. I like pointed-toe pumps in bold hues like red, pink, turquoise, and gold. Think Manolo, Pour le Victoire, and DVB. My jewelry usually consists of a single chunky ring and a long cuff bracelet. When I’m lounging at home, it’s usually in an oversized hand-knit mommy-made sweater and leggings.
9. What is the best international dining experience you have had?
This one is tough. I have modelling to thank for that. It would have to be El Olivo in Deia, Mallorca. When I arrived in Palma, my agency had forgotten to send someone to pick me up and when they finally did, I was in tears and told I had to freshen up for a dinner party that I was in no mood for. We drove into Deia as the sun was setting. The old stone buildings glowed pink in the setting sun and I understood why it was called Deia because it felt like I was driving into heaven. The restaurant was beautiful. It was like going back in time. The stone walls and trees that came up through the floor, the incredible service… the fresh bread, olive oil and fleur de sel alone were worth it. I had turbot in a saffron sauce and the most incredible seafood paella.
10. Your favorite vacation spot and hotel?
St. Barthes. I love the beaches there. It is my favorite place to swim in the ocean. I stayed in a villa overlooking the ocean and I had one of those jeeps where the doors are welded shut and you have to jump in. But my favorite hotel is the Mandarin Oriental in Columbus Circle in NYC.
11. Which three items must you always have in your purse and why?
Other than my iPhone, it’s my favorite lip-gloss: L’oreal color rich lip-gloss in rich nude. It’s the perfect shade for work or evening and suits my complexion whether I’m tanned or not. I also usually have a few miniature hair claws or the Goody hair coils that let you have the quick and messy up-do.
12. What song can you listen to on repeat?
I could listen to my dear, extremely talented friend, Dominique Fricot, on repeat. I Love anything by him, but I especially love Out of the Scenery.
13. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you want to meet?
Can I have lunch with Oprah and Ellen together? If I could pick a mentor, someone I would aspire to be more like, it would be these women for the way they bring happiness and awareness into the lives of people on a global level.
14. Lastly, where will we find Farzana Jaffer Jeraj in five years?
I hope to be doing exactly what I’m doing now, writing books and helping people remember who they are so they can be their best self, but on a larger scale.
Images Courtesy of Farzana Jaffer Jeraj