We wanted to find out what ENHALE Meditation Studio was like for a novice meditator, so we sent along a regular guy who had some serious reservations
Wellness and mindfulness are really becoming ingrained in the day-to-day of many of us here in Hong Kong. Workout pros on Instagram flood our feeds with exercise tips, while CrossFit boxes across the city pump out rock hard people – heck, we even have our very own wellness guru Avey Cortes doing 30 days of yoga and trialling the best outdoor fitness classes in Hong Kong for us. But what about the regular peeps who may not be so familiar with the movement, or indeed movement at all? We found a regular guy who had never tried meditation before and asked him to go along to multiple classes at ENHALE Meditation Studio. Was it all zen? Or a cross-legged disaster?
A regular guy tries ENHALE Meditation Studio
I wouldn’t say I’m the manliest man that ever was. I have no trouble eating a vegetarian meal, enjoy the odd pedicure and have been known to sport a pink shirt, but I have to be honest with you. A couple of months ago, if anyone had asked me whether I would like to spend a Friday evening meditating with a bunch of strangers or out at nice restaurant, I would have chosen the latter: hands down. As a regular guy in the city, I thought that the main requirements for practicing meditation were having a ponytail, wearing tie dye t-shirts and being able to sit in uncomfortable positions for hours.
Although slightly dubious about the concepts of mindfulness and meditation, I felt that anything that could help alleviate the feelings of stress and anxiety that seem to be part and parcel with living in Hong Kong was worth giving a go. So when I was given the opportunity to attend a set of meditation classes at ENHALE Meditation Studio, I thought: why not?
Located in the heart of LKF, ENHALE Meditation Studio was super convenient to get to from my work, however not yet owning a single pair of yoga pants I felt a little overdressed in my shirt and jeans. Despite my concerns over wardrobe choice and whether I would be the only one who couldn’t achieve Nirvana, I went along, and was greeted by a friendly face at reception.
The first class I went to was called Reiki Meditation and was run by Reiki Master Corie Chu. After googling ‘Reiki meditation’ to make sure I wasn’t signing myself up from some sort of Scientology cult, I learned that this mediation technique allowed the positive Reiki energy to enter and leave the body feeling relaxed and stress-free.
First up, we were invited to make ourselves comfortable in the cosy and intimate studio, and then–to the backdrop of soothingly relaxing music–Corie asked us to lie down and set intentions for the meditation session; she also explained that it was fine if we fell asleep (which I was thankful for, as I do have a habit of falling asleep pretty much anywhere.)
Next, she explained that during the session she would lightly touch us to impart the Reiki energy onto us. Whilst the calm music and her soothing voice did make me feel relaxed, I felt I was focusing too much on concentrating on my breathing to fully relax, and whilst I did feel a lot less stressed after the session I don’t think much of the Reiki energy managed to make it into my novice mindful body. That night I did sleep well though, so maybe it was more successful than I thought.
Sound Bath – Singing Bowl
The next class I attended was called Sound Bath – Singing Bowl and consisted of the group meditating to calming sounds of alchemy crystal bowls. Again, I really wasn’t in the most suitable attire (I need to dive into this story on men’s activewear in Hong Kong), and again we were invited to lie down and make ourselves comfortable whilst Malpert the instructor invited us to relax and set our intentions for the session; mine was to not try so hard.
As this was now my second class, I felt a little less conscious on concentrating on my breathing and was able to immerse myself in the calming sounds and vibrations of the bowls. I felt genuinely more relaxed after the class, and even though I’d had a particularly stressful day at work, I felt much calmer afterwards. Points for the regular guy!
Meditation for Executive Mind
I like to think that I have an executive mind, so I signed up for Meditation for Executive Mind. Running for just 30 minutes, this class seemed ideally suited to someone like me who is in need of an escape from work and the day-to-day stresses of corporate life in Hong Kong but whose diary and wallet does not allow them the luxury of a weekend spa retreat in Bali.
However, my initial excitement of finding the perfect mid-week fix was quickly quashed when I entered the room to see a group of ‘meditees’ (is that a word?) sat in a circle cross-legged; and yes one of the guys did have a ponytail! Although the instructor was very diligent at relaxing the group and invited us to picture a calm scenario for us to discard the stresses of our day, I was too preoccupied with sitting comfortably to entertain any semblance of peace. Maybe this was a step too far for such a apprentice meditator…
Sound Bath – Voice
The idea of being in a room full of people humming and chanting ordinarily would have the introvert in me shudder and run for cover, however this was hands down my favorite of all the classes that I attended. The concept behind this class is that the vibrations generated when we hum or sing cause a sensation of relaxation, so by humming and chanting without constraint, we can fully immerse ourselves in this relaxation and stress-relieving process.
It’s kind of like the mindfulness equivalent of dancing like nobody’s watching, and by session four I was right into it, though you may not want to jump in at this one. Malpert started the session with the soothing sounds of a gentle accordion, he then invited the group to hum in unison, followed by the group chanting ‘Ah’ and ‘ohm’. What then ensued was a surprisingly harmonious orchestra of noises punctuated by the calming sensation of making these sounds from the mouth. This continued for an intense but enjoyable half hour before culminating in the gentle banging of the mediation gong. I left the studio not just relaxed but actually exhilarated and full of energy that evening.
Is this regular guy a meditation convert?
So would I consider myself a die-hard convert to mindfulness and meditation, ready to pack my bags and find myself on an ashram in India? Probably not. However, I realised that this overtly spiritual/hippy persona that I equated with people who meditate is really something of a myth. In truth, I came to look forward to my classes at ENHALE Meditation Studio after a hard day at work, and I could feel the calming relaxing effect straight away, so much so that I’ve booked myself in for another class this week for a much needed dose of relaxation. Not quite ready for the pony-tail yet though.
ENHALE Meditation Studio, 14th Floor, The Plaza, 21 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong Central, Hong Kong, 中環德己立街21號The Plaza 14樓