My wife Marianne and I had been struggling with stress management for years and sought relief. Marianne was a former interior designer and I owned and operated a real estate and commercial construction firm in the New York City area. Stress became the backdrop for our daily routines; I felt trapped; and spent time planning ways to escape. Having visited family living in Charlottesville, Marianne and I decided to close the business, relocate our family, and take a step back from the pace we’d come to believe was normal. Marianne took a teaching position at St. Anne’s Belfield School and I began a career at UVA at the McIntire and Darden Schools as COO/CFO. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and stress creeped back into our lives. It became obvious that stress was ever present and we needed some permanent interventions or risk health issues and living a life bereft of joy and happiness. In my position as COO at the Darden School, I came upon an email solicitation for a Mindfulness program targeted at stress reduction. We both signed up and it has changed my life.
We needed to understand why we were seemingly unable to shake the stress we experienced on a daily basis along with advice on how to cope. I was skeptical that the MBSR course taught by Susan Stone would be effective but Marianne and I needed relief. Susan led the group through a series of exercises that helped us understand what was happening and why; that provided immediate relief; and as the course unfolded, helped us develop new ways to process stress and deal with it. I was applying the “Monday night lessons” immediately at work and found myself observing but not participating in episodes of high stress. This newly developed, more mindful approach made me better able to manage the situation without letting the emotions and tension consume and distract me. I meditate on a daily basis, often during the day in short sequences as time allows, that help me stay grounded and calm. Marianne and I do full body scans together when we can and I use the techniques Susan taught every day. I am grateful for having taken the course and having met Susan and recommend mindfulness and the MBSR course to others.
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