by Caron Williamson, Fivelements’ Wellness Liaison & Sacred Artist
When we think of yoga, we often picture pretzel-like bodily contortions, but yoga is much more than a set of exercises on a mat. Yoga is an integrated science for living life in which we can transform our feelings, reactions, beliefs, the very way in which our mind works. Asana (the physical postures of yoga) energetically and physically transform the body, preparing us for meditation, which ultimately leads to enlightenment and joy. Asana forms a useful entry point into this wider practice since working with the body is easier than approaching the esoteric aspects of the subtle body and mind.
It seems my whole motherhood, 18 years thus far (including the months in the womb), I continue to be privy to similar conversations with mothers from all over the globe, feeling challenged with not enough time for the self, let alone wellbeing. Whenever I’ve inquired about what mothers do for themselves, not surprising, most of us respond immediately with smiles…and sighs. In-between breast-feeding, family meal planning, organising logistics, producing the increasingly full schedules on any given day, cheering at soccer matches and music performances (or carrying the guilt of not), not to mention the millions of other tasks required from their paying jobs, women from around the world share a common challenge - not having enough time, or shall I say, not taking enough time for self-nurturing and personal wellbeing.
Just as the sun must shine and the bees must make honey, it is said that all beings must accept their dharma for order and harmony to exist in the world. If an individual is following their dharma, they are pursuing their truest calling, serving all other beings in the universe by playing their own unique role. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment.
It can be difficult to grasp from a Western perspective, but I feel that living your dharma means to act in accordance with your divine purpose – you may even call it cosmic destiny. Since dharma is also closely related to the concept of duty and service to others (and in the Bhakti tradition, unconditional love), I feel that one's dharma can never be selfish.
Growing up in Africa, having lived in Asia most of my life, led me to believe that “Home is where the Heart is”.
To feel home and in harmony within my heart and body, I go back to the Four principles of Life, SHU, SHOKU, DO, SO, that the Japanese Master, Kazunori Sasaki Sensei taught me.
Ketut, architect and interior designer, focusing on creating a calm, friendly, spiritual – and surprising – space
What do you think Hong Kongers will respond to the most?
The idea here is to bring something different that no one else has done in Hong Kong. Sometimes architecture and interior design is about following trends or looking classic, but we have brought a concept that is similar to what we have created in Bali and which is aligned with our Fivelements’ holistic integrative concept.
I especially like the fact you cannot predict what is inside by looking at the outside. Even though the building from the outside has a very international look, once you enter inside we want you to be surprised. All our rooms are different. And not only different but we have tried to bring to the space a spiritual feel using unusual materials in an unusual way. We have chosen the various stone, for example, and the bamboo, to bring nature inside. You jump from a cityscape to a tropical interior.
Upstairs in the Yoga Room, the curving ceiling is one of the ways we have tried to surprise people. The building on the outside is very regular so inside we are avoiding any square structure – one of Lahra’s requirements for wellness design. We want to give people space to move around without barriers and in the Yoga Room every angle has a different feel. Every time you walk in here the space is so inspirational you really feel great.
Gove, landscaping and sustainability guru, appreciates the access to both technology and nature in Hong Kong
What is your role?
I developed the Sustainability program at Fivelements’ and have supported with landscape design. In addition to our core “Resilience through Wellness” program every Fivelements project has third party green building certificates – in Bali we are certified Tri Hita Karana Emerald, in Hong Kong we worked with the Hong Kong Green Building Council’s Beam Plus for interiors – it is my job to facilitate these certifications for the company and interpret them towards our organizational goals .
What was it like being a part of the making of Fivelements Hong Kong?
I’ve never really thought of myself being part of the making of Fivelements. I give all credit for that to Chicco and Lahra and their team. But what I have become is part of the on-going evolution, the creative vision, the deep foundation for the future.
What motivated me to be part of the on-going process of evolution, of deepening some aspects and expanding others, was a sense that Fivelements is the real deal. It’s not about luxury, although it is a luxury experience in a rustic way. It’s not about spa. It’s not even really about destination per se, although it is a gorgeous gem of a destination. It’s really about a deep connection with the innermost dimensions of oneself. It is finding those, and connecting with those deep aspects and enlivening them, that brings about transformation.
By Anne Cousin
It is easy to get caught up in the details of our lives, even suffering and losing sleep when we perceive that we have no solution to the problems we face. We can too easily forget about joyfulness of living, that aliveness itself has an essentially joyful quality.
I often guide and advise clients into slowing down, deeply sensing and feeling into their body aliveness. This is a form of Somatic meditation. Somatic means that we relate to the body. There are many ways to do this, as each person has their own unique inner resources and intelligence.
For example, every pleasurable activity can be turned into a doorstep toward gratitude, by taking a moment to notice how it feels, acknowledging its ripples in ones sense of wellness, nourishment. As we experience this the body relaxes, the brain begins secreting new hormones of wellbeing, in a what we could call a virtuous cycle. We cultivate presence, mindfulness or body-fullness.
This simple practice to shift perspective, even 5 minutes a day as a start, has a profound effect on our brain chemistry and body. Our brain has a natural tendency to register and focus on potential threats. In a given moment, we experience feeling weak or being in fear or discomfort. Yet this is only one-side of the picture— we can expand our awareness to include other perceptions. There is always a possibility to shift perspective and to feel better.
By Michael Hallock — Fivelements Wellness Curator
Sometimes people consider meditation and sport as mutually exclusive. Their thinking is that some people are the type to meditate and others are the type to play sports. After all, we usually think of meditation as sitting still with closed eyes, while sports is all about action. While there can sometimes be a divide between those two worlds, there is more and more overlap as professional athletes bridge that gap and develop peak performance through meditation and mindfulness.
What they find out is that meditation improves their focus. The meditative concept of being “in the present moment” translates directly into being more present to the game, less distracted by thoughts, emotions. Exactly what is needed to play well is what meditation teaches us — be present, be attentive, “keep your eye on the ball” as they say.
After you practice for some time, you’ll notice that meditation helps “emotional regulation” too. That is, we learn not to “sweat the small stuff”. Which means that we are less deflected by a loss of a point or a referee or judge’s decision. We learn to maintain our determination without wasting time and energy by beating ourselves up or throwing a John McEnroe style tantrum. We develop a kind of relentless perseverance, and we get back in the game.
At Fivelements we are plugged into living with a conscious mindfulness. In a world that seems to be run by stress, we understand why it is so important to have an antidote that brings physical, mental and emotional calm.
Here we present the fourth of our series of team members recommendations for how to ensure that balance, happiness and health, rather than stress, take over our lives.
Joao Ricardo Alves, Head Chef