After 14 years spent working on Wall Street, and grappling with the anxiety and insomnia that came with her high-pressure job, Susan Chen turned to Vedic meditation to, as she put it, “find resilience in the chaos.” She found the practice to be so effective in eliminating stress from her life that she left the corporate world altogether to study and teach it full-time. In 2017, after 2 years of study – including a 12-week training program in India – Chen became a fully certified Vedic meditation teacher. Today, Chen teaches regular courses in New York City and Los Angeles, and hosts additional retreats around the world, to share the benefits of this 5,000-year-old practice with as many others as possible.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Many meditative philosophies seem to require more work, more rules, and stepping away from a normal life in order to “feel good.” My take on Vedic meditation, alternatively, integrates with your life, so you can enjoy the journey and still follow your unique path. I love teaching people with big lives and watching their day-to-day shift from “a grind” to an enjoyable, fulfilling adventure.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Launching my business and teaching people about the impact Vedic meditation can have on their lives has been an incredible success and milestone in and of itself. If you had told me 15 years ago that this is what I would be doing, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Now, I see that it is the most aligned job in the world for me.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
It can be challenging to articulate the difference between Vedic meditation and other practices. And live-training clients in a 5,000-year-old meditation practice may seem like a foreign concept. Collaborating with other key tastemakers, and hosting events and retreats, has all really helped showcase the impact of Vedic meditation to modern-day customers. Once people experience the rest and rejuvenation that come from engaging with the practice, there really is no going back.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I struggled with anxiety when working on Wall Street. I would put a lot of pressure on myself day-to-day, and it built up over time as I had no outlet to release that stress. Through Vedic meditation, I learned to deal with shifts in everyday expectations – it was astonishing. I knew I wanted to share it with others, which is why I started my business.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
There is so much more time than you think to accomplish your goals. Be kind to yourself.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
My daily meditation practice does truly ground me, to the point where I don’t have many dark days. However, if I am feeling tired, sick or under the weather, I make sure to rest my body and my mind with light food, lots of rest, meditation and activities that bring me joy.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
I love to listen to and chant the “Gayatri Mantra,” an ancient Sanskrit song that helps us align with the rhythms of nature. It has a sweet effect and can snap you out of a rut quickly. Deva Premal’s version is a favorite of mine.
Who is your most important role model?
My teacher and mentor Thom Knoles helped me see the best in myself, and opened up a vision of possibilities to how I could live my life in a deeply fulfilling way. ◼