Corridor firm’s ‘Meditation Mondays’ garner a following

Marsha Nieland, owner of Fusion Yoga Studio in Cedar Rapids, leads a growing number of friends and clients at Carson Wealth in weekly meditation sessions to help “press the pause button in our lives.” CREDIT FUSION YOGA

By Katharine Carlon

Times are tough, markets are unpredictable and nerves are frayed. Enter Meditation Mondays, a weekly online session aimed at helping participants learn to breathe easy again, hosted by Carson Wealth’s Cedar Rapids office.

“We are completely habituated to activity and feeling that we have to be doing, doing, doing all of the time,” said Marsha Nieland, a certified yoga teacher and owner of Fusion Yoga Studio, before demonstrating a “box breath” exercise intended to relieve stress and “welcome stillness” into the body.

“It makes us feel we have a sense of control. [Meditation] helps us press the pause button in our lives.”

Ms. Nieland, the wife of Carson Wealth managing director and partner Russ Nieland, began leading the weekly 9 a.m. Zoom sessions on April 20 as a way of helping clients de-stress, many of them sheltering at home and worrying about their financial futures. Since then, the financial advisors have opened the event to the community at large, growing their weekly numbers from the high teens to upwards of 60 per session.

“We’ve actually been talking for a number of years about how do we give back to the community and this was just such a natural,” said Mr. Nieland, of the firm’s partnership with his wife, a 2017 CBJ Woman of Influence whose studio is also located in the historic Mott Building on Seventh Avenue SE.

“There’s a different level of stress than we had going through the financial crisis or the technology bubble bursting,” he added. “Marsha and I have had long talks about starting a foundation, a way of giving back, called the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise project. One of the things that we’re going through right now is, wealth really doesn’t mean much if you don’t have your health. And not only physical health, but mental health, so this is one way that we can help ourselves … learn the amazing benefits to meditation that can impact everyone.”

No prior experience with meditation is necessary to attend the sessions. Though Carson Wealth originally envisioned the series ending May 18, Mr. Nieland and senior wealth advisor Chris Graw said the program could continue based on the level of interest the program has garnered.

“There’s just so much going through everybody’s mind right now,” Mr. Graw said. “Sometimes our mind can just go down rabbit holes … and I think just pausing and kind of putting things in perspective is probably more important than ever, right now especially.”

CEOs of major corporations have long incorporated meditation into their day, Mr. Nieland noted, but the stress of the coronavirus pandemic has made finding healthy coping mechanisms a necessity for everyone from frontline workers to parents juggling children and work demands.

“Being able to just pull out 10 or 15 minutes of your day to just center and go back to yourself is empowering,” he said, recalling a recent comment from an attorney who told him the sessions made her realize how shallowly she had been breathing. “We’re all sitting on our tails in our offices and in our chairs and that’s really unhealthy for us. Just learning to breathe again is a positive.”

For more information about Meditation Mondays, email Marsha Nieland at CBJ