Mira Christanto, founder of Hong Kong’s first meditation studio, is no stranger to big city chaos having lived in Jakarta, Singapore, New York and Hong Kong. Born in Hawaii and then growing up in Jakarta and Singapore, Mira landed in New York with a thriving career in finance. However, after the Lehman Brothers collapse, everything changed.
We met with Mira in Hong Kong at her newly opened Enhale Meditation Studio to learn what exactly happened and how meditation can help you too.
How did you become interested in meditation and came to open Enhale Meditation Studio?
My background is in finance, from investment banking to hedge funds to asset management. I never thought that some day in 2018 I would open a meditation studio. In the past, I thought of it but along the lines of I’ll be retired somewhere on the Greek Islands but certainly not now.
While working with a hutch fund in New York, I got moved to London and then, in 2017, to Hong Kong.
I love research and learning so I would research different retreats for hours and then travel to experience them. After coming back to Hong Kong, I found it really difficult to integrate the benefits I reaped and couldn’t wait for my next vacation. I wanted a place on demand to unplug without going away for a vacation.
I really feel like I didn’t choose to open a meditation studio but it chose me. Naturally, it’s nearly impossible to make as much money as one can make in finance; I would need hundreds of people coming to the classes on a daily basis! It’s just not about the money.
What’s the concept behind Enhale Meditation Studio?
We welcome everyone. We are also open to all traditions, beliefs and religions without having any affiliations. Overall we want to provide essential wellbeing from the neck up. Enhale wants to also create a community where people can meditate together.
Were there any obstacles in opening the studio?
Coming from a financial background, I had no idea how to open a mediation studio so I just had to figure it out. I used to run multi-billion dollar investment portfolios in Asia so I had some business and operation ideas. Here, I had to pick cushions, right lighting, right tea – it was an adventure!
What is your personal meditation journey and how has meditation influenced your life?
I started in 2008 where I was a complete workaholic and lost my job during the economical crises. I used to take pride in staying at the office until 4am, hiding, behind my business card and bank account. Losing my job made me question my identity. My meditation practice made me realise that my identity can’t be based on what’s written on by business card – so what, if I lose it?
Meditation helped me to see what’s permanent in myself and what’s important to me. A friend introduced me to a vipassana retreat in Hong Kong and I went from zero to 10 signing up for 10 days. I came back to the office not only calmer, but with better concentration and even better digestion.
The high lasted for about two weeks. In the beginning you meditate twice a day, then you get lazy and meditate once a day and then you get busy and you don’t meditate at all.
So the idea came together to create a community so people can meditate together. The energy is different when you do it together.
Who are the teachers at Enhale Meditation Studio? How do you meet them and how did they join the team?
I didn’t know anybody but I knew what I wanted so I did my research to find the coaches, had meetings, tried their meditations and then asked them to join the team. Some of them reached out to me and at the moment we have about 20 coaches, all specialising in different things.
There are so many different classes offered at the Enhale Meditation Studio so how do you choose and what is particularly special?
We have everything you can find around the world. If you are looking for something unique to Asia, we have the Tea Ceremony. People have been raving about the breath work as well. We introduce new classes all the time, for example Full Moon Meditation or a Peak Walk which is a meditative group walk to the peak finishing with chi meditation.
We love the idea of a quick lunch session. Why is it so important to take a break in the middle of a busy day?
Besides living in such a dense world, there is a science behind it. For example 20 minutes of yoga nidra counts as two hours of normal sleep. People need their mid-day break to unplug and re-center themselves. Research aside, after mid-day meditation one feels relaxed and recharged.
What are the simple things we can do now towards a more balanced mind and general wellbeing?
Breathing properly is simple but powerful and also detoxifying. Another thing is joining and being a part of a community. Additionally, turn off your mobile notifications for a few hours a day at least .
Practicing gratitude and happiness for others is another way to balance oneself and feel happier.
For those new to meditation, where should one begin? How often should one meditate?
Research shows that twenty minutes a day for eight weeks could change and improve your health. No matter the duration, just finish what you’ve set out to do. It creates discipline, whether it is two or twenty minutes – finish it.
Ironically, the studio is located in Lai Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s epicentre of nightlife and entertainment. Would you agree that wellness is about balance and there is always some place for a little fun?
There is this idea that meditation is for people with Yoda vibes but meditation is also for those those who like a martini or do triathlons. Meditation is growing big around the world, it’s cool and people love it. Meditation is a gift to yourself.
Enhale Meditation Studio 14th Floor, The Plaza, 21 D’Aguilar St, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong