Remember All Change is Progressive: One of the main reasons we stay stressed is our resistance to moving with change. In Veda, the 5,000+ year old body of knowledge from which Vedic Meditation was conceived, the great masters relayed again and again that all change is progressive change. Meaning, evolution is all that’s ever happening. Once we accept change in the workplace, we’re able to move with the currents of evolution gracefully. We get so good with adapting that we become prospective about change and actually seek it out. This is what I have come to see as the main differentiator behind good leaders and GREAT ones.

With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Susan Chen of Susan Chen Vedic Meditation.

After 14 years working on Wall Street in New York, Susan turned to Vedic Meditation to find resilience in the chaos. The practice was so effective in quickly eliminating stress and overwhelm in her life that she left the corporate world to study and teach meditation full-time. In 2017, after two years of study and immersing herself in a 12-week training program in India with Thom Knoles, Susan was inducted as a Vedic Meditation teacher in the highest order. Today, Susan loves teaching people with big lives and watching their busyness shift from ‘a grind’ to an enjoyable, fulfilling adventure.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

This is a great question. And while I don’t have any regrets from my younger days, I think there are few words of wisdom that all young people could benefit from:

  1. Take your time, you’re right on schedule.
  2. Do what you love and follow your heart. The rest of life — money, relationships, success — will fall into place naturally.
  3. Rest more. You are not missing out. Take time for you.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

My teacher and mentor Thom Knoles helped me see the best in myself, and opened up a vision of possibilities on how I could live my life in a deeply fulfilling way. After climbing the ladder of corporate America and achieving all the milestones of success, I was approaching burnout and suffered from anxiety and insomnia. Once I learned Vedic Meditation, I could feel my world opening up again and my natural happiness returned. I began my mentorship with Thom, who guided me to the next best years of my Wall Street career. I ultimately transitioned to a full-time meditation teacher, so I can help others through their own happiness transformation.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

I’m teaching meditation on a larger scale through corporate training programs. Employees are more exhausted than ever, with 40% of the workforce feeling even more anxious and tired than during the height of the pandemic. With ever-increasing uncertainty about the economy and job security, teaching meditation inside corporations will help feel more rested, adaptable, and avoid burnout in their career path.

Building meditation programs inside companies is also beneficial for employers. Not only are they taking good care of their employees and looking after their mental health, but practitioners of Vedic Meditation report increased clarity and focus, are more productive, and lead with more openness and empathy in every area of life — including in the workplace.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?

Stress is a physiological response that is entirely dependent on one’s own condition of rest and adaptability to meet a change in expectation or demand in life.

One of the most common misconceptions about stress is that stress is a person, place, thing, or event. We hear so often, “My job is so stressful” or “that person really stresses me out.”

A job can be stressful to one person if they are perpetually fatigued and under-rested. However, the same job requirements may feel completely manageable to another person who has the adaptation energy and restfulness to successfully interact with the demands of the job.

Any one thing, person or situation has the potential to trigger a stress response, however it’s our own internal stage of adaptability, restfulness, and resiliency that determines whether or not we develop a stressful response to that situation.

In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?

Chronic stress develops when we are unable to handle the changes of expectations in our lives without a stress response. We live in a world of constant development and movement, but most of us are resistant to change or believe different experiences mean “things not going our way.” This sets up for endless days and nights where we actively work against the natural flow of change instead of accepting, integrating and interacting with the new experiences and expectations in our lives.

In every instance where we are unable to adapt to change in our lives, we download a stress memory in our brains and body. This is a classic second act of the initial fight or flight response that takes us out of our world of safety into the world of perceived threats. Some say that by the time we’re in our twenties, hundreds of thousands of stress memories and trauma responses are stored in our bodies. When we become a storehouse of stress memories, we become more and more prone to retrigger them and relive those feelings and emotions throughout our day, even through new and different situations.

This is the pattern of chronic stress and why it can feel so hard to get out from under it. Not only are we carrying around the baggage of a lifetime’s worth of stress, we’re also out there in the world accumulating stress more quickly than we can release it.

This is the experience of modern life.

What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?

Stress manifests as imbalances in the different systems of the body and can cause the body to go into a state of premature aging. Up to 90% of all doctors visits are rooted in stress-related ailments, and the fallouts from stress accumulation.

Some common physical manifestations of stress are chronic fatigue, migraines, insomnia, tightness of the chest, body tension, getting injured easily, digestive issues, and auto-immune illnesses. In the moment of fight or flight, we may feel our heart racing, labored breathing, increased perspiration, inability to focus or concentrate, and a racing mind.

Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?

We absolutely want to cherish the stress response, as it’s one of the defining mechanisms that has kept us thriving as a species. Getting stressed out isn’t a bad thing… it’s staying stressed that begins the cascade of imbalance in the body.

It is important to have an outlet for stress to exit our body and our mental space. We practice Vedic Meditation to achieve a deep state of restfulness that allows for stresses of the day, as well as accumulated stresses, to have a proper outlet for full release and purifications from the body.

Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?

All stress is interpreted by our brains and body as the same type of event: a maladaptive response to a change of expectation in our life. What separates a short term stress versus a long term stress is our ability to release the stress memory associated with the stress.

For example, you may have a stressful response to your boss giving you a new weekly assignment at work. You’re not sure how you’ll handle it with your current workload or if you’ll be able to make it home to dinner on time each night, which may impact your time with your family. If you are able to accommodate the new situation, adapt to the change, and quickly release the stress after the first instance of receiving the assignment, you would experience only short-term stress. However, if you hold onto your stress response so it comes up each week when you must complete your new assignment, you’ll experience the stressful feelings over and over again, leading to long-term stress.

If we can release it, then the short-term stress is over and done with. If the memory is stored and is retriggered, we’ll likely be living in a constant state of stress retriggers.

Is it even possible to eliminate stress?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to eliminate stress — it’s actually our natural state to do so, but we’ve lost the rhythms in our lives to have that proper outlet for our mind and body.

Any time that we’re resting our bodies deeply, deeper than the waking state, we have an opportunity to release stress.

Inside Vedic Meditation, we rest the body significantly deeper than sleep. We awaken the natural stress-release process systematically and reliably.

Not only are short-term stresses of the day easily released inside the next Vedic Meditation sitting, but long-term stress memories and trauma responses are also released, which pave the way for a truly stress-free mind and body.

In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.

I truly believe that if we all learn more about how we get stressed and how we can unwind and release stress, it will release the burden and stigma around feeling perpetually stressed or anxious.

Most of us are approaching stress management with tools that have limited effectiveness. Once we build on deep restfulness, stress releases naturally without thinking too much about it. By learning Vedic Meditation, each student is armed with more information about stress than their primary care doctors. It’s incredibly beneficial for us to get better educated on this matter.

Let’s talk about stress at work. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.

For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?

In a balanced physiology, our baseline experience of life is one of happiness and ease. This means that irrespective of what’s going on at work, whether it’s going “well” or not, we have a foundational feeling of well-being, calm, and peace from where we live our lives. Stress is not our natural state, and it’s something we should be actively looking to eliminate.

I don’t often feel the level of stress in my day-to-day life that I did before I learned and taught Vedic Meditation. My mind and body has at least two opportunities each day to enter deep rest and process any emotions or stressors it is holding on to. I no longer have to think about ways to get rid of my stress or frustration. Through Vedic Meditation, my body and mind have a natural way of resetting and “taking out the trash.” It is an awesome way of living that I wish everyone can experience one day.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at Work?” Please share a story or example for each.

1. Meditation: This is the secret weapon of all high-performers in every industry in the world. Modern leaders are asked to stretch their focus across many business areas, endeavors and initiatives. This opens up their experience to numerous changes of expectation and an ever-growing list of demands for their time, energy, and creativity. By building a deeply restful meditation practice like Vedic Meditation, a leader will establish their foundation of adaptation, energy, and resiliency which boosts creativity, strategic problem solving, and fulfillment.

2. Take 5, Often: Even five minutes off your screens and phone can help busy leaders recharge during their day. I often work with clients to schedule their meetings with 15–20 minute gaps in between so they can have a bit of rest time and account for meetings running over. During the 5 minute gap, you can take some long, deep breaths or simply go outside for a quick walk around the block. The idea is not to take a break by checking email or returning a phone call. It’s your time to reset.

3. Solid Morning Routine: Mornings are quiet times for busy leaders to commit to a self-care routine. Exercise, meditation, or journaling early in the morning can set up a day of more easefulness in the mind and body. I suggest taking 90-minutes in the morning to do things that delight and nourish you before heading into work mode. It will build more resilience and adaptability for the workday.

4. Develop Good Sleep Hygiene: How we end the day is as important as how we start the day. It’s best to turn off our devices and screens at least 90 minutes before heading to bed. I always suggest to clients to leave phones outside of the bedroom to avoid temptation in reach for it first thing in the morning. And, sleep early if possible.

5. Remember All Change is Progressive: One of the main reasons we stay stressed is our resistance to moving with change. In Veda, the 5,000+ year old body of knowledge from which Vedic Meditation was conceived, the great masters relayed again and again that all change is progressive change. Meaning, evolution is all that’s ever happening. Once we accept change in the workplace, we’re able to move with the currents of evolution gracefully. We get so good with adapting that we become prospective about change and actually seek it out. This is what I have come to see as the main differentiator behind good leaders and GREAT ones.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life by Michelle D. Seaton and Suhas Kshirsagar

Vedic Worldview Podcast by Thom Knoles

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I feel so appreciative to say that I’m doing that with my work right now. Getting as many people to develop a solid daily meditation habit is what can unlock more happiness and fulfillment in each of us. Recent studies have shown that personal meditation practices have a ripple effect throughout our communities, so it’s important for each of us to find a meditation practice that is enjoyable and easy to fit into our busy lives in leadership.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

You can learn more about me on my website ( and by joining my weekly newsletter where I give more tips and lessons for how to live an abundant, stress-free life.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.


  • Savio Clemente

    Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Media Journalist, #1 Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor

    The Human Resolve LLC

    Savio P. Clemente is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), media journalist, #1 best-selling author, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLCHe coaches cancer survivors and ambitious industry leaders to amplify their impact, attract media attention, and make their voice heard. He inspires them to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit and to cultivate resilience in their mindset.

    Savio has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad.  His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.