Meditation in the Post-Covid World According to Susan Chen

As one of the simplest practices that provide a myriad of benefits, meditation is often overlooked because of the mysteries and misconceptions that surround it. For many, meditation is reserved only for those who have decided to go on some sort of spiritual journey–and is often associated with Hinduism, Buddhism or other religious practices. But […]

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As one of the simplest practices that provide a myriad of benefits, meditation is often overlooked because of the mysteries and misconceptions that surround it. For many, meditation is reserved only for those who have decided to go on some sort of spiritual journey–and is often associated with Hinduism, Buddhism or other religious practices.

But that cannot be farther from the truth. 

In truth, meditation is a peaceful practice that is meant to improve one’s physical and mental well-being. And in case, you’re wondering, yes, these benefits are supported by science. During the past year, many people have discovered all these wonderful benefits, including how it helps them feel happier and more fulfilled everyday. But as the world slowly creeps back into the way things were, many fear of losing touch with the practice.

I recently talked to Susan Chen of Meditate with Susan. She teaches Vedic Meditation, an eyes-closed, mantra-based technique that has been practiced for thousands of years.  Susan promotes Vedic Meditation as “an easy, effortless and enjoyable way to release stress and reset your baseline to bliss.” I wanted to get her take on what meditating post-Covid should look like. Will it still be as easy as during the height of the pandemic when everyone basically had time to do what they wanted? Will there be shifts in people’s attitude towards meditating especially now that everyone’s trying to make up for the time they spent away from pursuing their passions? What can we do to get the full benefits of meditating?  

After what feels like a lifetime, the pandemic and its restrictions seem to be lifting in your neck of the woods. How do you think your life goes back to normal after this?

Almost overnight, we’ve flipped on our “on” switch in life, and everyone is back on the go. It seems like we are making up for lost time and running at an even faster speed than before. So, I don’t think it’s so much how we get back to normal because we are already there. It’s more a matter of managing social burnout and maintaining balance during this time of enormous change.

For over a year, we were in a situation that I like to refer to as an enforced time out. Lockdowns forced all of us to embrace a home-centered life, learning how to cook for ourselves, spending time in relative silence and away from social distractions, and begin to reflect on our values and priorities.

The most important thing for us will be to cherish the lessons that we learned from the pandemic and bring them back to our lives for the greatest good.

Some people adopted meditation during the harshest of restrictions or the coldest of winters. How can busy people keep up with their meditation habits now that the old normal seems set to make a comeback?

My top two suggestions for anyone looking to keep up with their meditation habits is to:

1) Find a meditation practice that you enjoy. Meditation should not feel like a chore or one more thing you “have” to do in your day. A meditation practice that you look forward to will always be the one that sticks.

2) Prioritize your meditation time, as you would any other appointment–just like how we would book a coffee date, an appointment with our therapist or trainer. Book in time with yourself to sit in silence and enjoy the rest. Setting a calendar appointment for dedicated meditation time will help you keep your habit going.

For those who are already practicing meditation, would you recommend shifting practices to suit the shift in their lifestyle? 

Certain types of meditation, like the Vedic Meditation, allow those who practice it full access to their mental potential. What does that mean, in practicality? It means that with the added deep rest we receive in Vedic Meditation, we are more creative, feel more rested, and can make high speed, accurate decisions that are not stressful in any nature to our body. As a result, we get more done in a shorter amount of time, freeing us up to enjoy our life and get everything achieved that we’ve set out to accomplish.

There are many techniques out there that require long periods to meditate to see results. There are also other types of meditation that are shorter but don’t deliver changes that are as profound. The key is to find a technique that offers the most “bang for your buck” and can provide results within a short amount of time. For me, Vedic Meditation delivers just that.

For clarity of readers who are not as familiar with meditation and the benefits of slowing down, how does being busy affect our health?

Being busy isn’t necessarily bad for our health. What’s detrimental to our well-being is being so overwhelmed with our busyness that we create stressful situations in our lives.  

Our life is full of demands, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. What is most important is to find balance in our life; how can we counterbalance the busyness with more restfulness? Being constantly busy without an adequate tool to release stress and enjoy more rest is how we get trapped in the “I’m so busy” complex in life.

Meditation is obviously something that everyone should learn to practice, but for those who are not yet as open to it, what are other things they can do to slow down and not get overwhelmed with everything that’s happening around them?

Here are my top three suggestions for creating more space and slowing down, in addition to meditation:

  1. Keep the first two hours of your morning intentional. How we spend the first two hours of our day has a massive impact on how we feel and perform for the rest of the day. So nourish yourself with the self-care that will be life-supporting for you. For me, this looks like keeping my cell phone off until after I’ve finished my morning self-care routine  and making my meditation non-negotiable. For others, it may look like prioritizing a workout and journaling before getting their day started.
  2. Remove the word “should” out of your vocabulary. Many of us experience busyness due to over-committing because we feel like we “should” be trying to accomplish everything and pleasing everyone. So instead of asking yourself, “Should I do this thing?” ask yourself, “Do I want to do this thing? Is there where I want to be dedicating my time and energy?” You’ll be surprised at how sweetly you’ll be able to hear your intuition guiding how and where to slow down. 
  3. Listen to your body. Our body is amazing at communicating exactly what it needs and what is off balance – if we choose to listen. So next time you’re feeling a little tired, or feeling a little off when thinking about a particular idea or project, don’t ignore those feelings. Instead, lean into what your body is telling you, and you’ll be able to slow right down and find that balance.

How can people participate in your meditations and what’s next for you?

If you’re interested in learning more about Vedic Meditation, you can sign up for one of my Introductory Talks.  We can meet and chat about Vedic Meditation, how it can help you live to your fullest potential, and answer any questions you may have about learning and practicing this simple yet transformative technique.

After graduating from Harvard with B.A. degree in 2002, Susan entered Wall Street as a research analyst. She later worked with Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Capital as Senior Managing Director and Head of Credit Research, respectively. After 14 successful years in the business, she transitioned out of the financial world to pursue her passion for meditation and Vedic studies. She learned about Vedic Meditation from Maharishi Vyasananda Saraswati (Thom Knoles), the pre-eminent authority of Vedic knowledge. In addition to teaching Vedic Meditation, Susan is also the co-founder of Soozy’s Grain-Free. To know more about her, you may visit https://www.meditatewithsusan.com/ or follow @thesusanchen on Instagram.

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