Stylist gives up glamorous lifestyle to be meditation teacher

PHOTO: Stylist gives up glamorous lifestyle to be meditation teacher

He used to rub shoulders with local celebrities Fann Wong and Andrew Seow and was earning up to $30,000 a month as a fashion journalist and stylist for magazines such as Style, Prestige, and Men's Health.

But Mr Luke Lim, 35, said he always felt empty and unsettled during his 11-year career in the fashion industry.

Eventually, he gave it all up to pursue meditation.

He recalled of his work, first as a fashion designer, then as a stylist and magazine contributor: "I kept changing roles within the industry and never felt satisfied and fulfilled."

Despite winning the Fresh Fashion Stylist of the Year Award during the Singapore Fashion Awards in 2004, he began to experience depression, he said. He also found that he had little motivation to continue working.

Mr Lim's turnaround came in December 2011 when he confided in his client and friend, Ms Krista Kim, an artist in her 30s. She introduced a book to him, elements of which discussed the practice of mediation.

Never the kind of person to sit still, Mr Lim remembered dreading the notion of sitting quietly for long periods of time. But he felt he had nothing more to lose and decided to give it a try, he said.

He took to it like a fish to water.

Said Mr Lim: "I followed the instructions in the book and was shocked at how fast I saw results."

TINGLING SENSATIONS

He began by calming himself down and relaxing his body and said he quickly felt minute tingling sensations when he was most focused.

"I felt a joy that I'd never felt before," he said.

He felt compelled to share his life-changing experiences with others and dropped his fashion career to become a spiritual teacher, founding meditation interest-group the Singapore Lightworkers Guild and a YouTube channel to educate others about meditation and spirituality.

Today, Mr Lim says he is happier than ever with his new life.

He is a full-time meditation and yoga teacher who holds weekly lessons with up to 30 participants in each session and he meditates three times a day at his Pearl Bank apartment.

He has also influenced his parents to take up the practice.

"Meditation is the best thing that has happened to me."

ycchin@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 13, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More turning to meditation

An increasing number of people are taking up meditation.

According to the mediation centres and groups The New Paper approached, there has been a slow, but steady, growth in practitioners here.

Meditation practitioner Dawn Wong, 26, said: "It used to be associated with mysticism and superstition, but more people are taking to it after becoming more well-informed.

"It's increasingly common as people are introduced to the practice of calming their minds through yoga classes, for instance."

More people are interested in taking care of their health more holistically these days, said Mr Andre Tay, who started practising meditation in 2012.

Said the 33-year-old: "They don't want to pop pills to remain illness free, so they try therapies to see what the body can do to heal itself."

Meditation as a practice has come under the spotlight recently, especially after it was revealed that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew used meditation to "keep the monkey mind from running off into all kinds of thoughts".

The burgeoning interest is also evidenced by the proliferation of meditation classes and wellness centres.

Mr Tay said: "Ten years ago, there weren't many commercial wellness centres available, but wellness centres like Sanctum seem to be popping up everywhere recently."

Located at Arab Street, Sanctum targets the lunchtime crowd. From noon to 2pm, customers pay a $5 entry fee to use its mediation space for as long as they want.

Sanctum reported a 30 per cent increase in the number of customers who go there to meditate, compared to five years ago.

Other places offering meditation services include SoulCentre Academy at Bencoolen Street and Sacred Space Holistic Hub at Coleman Street near City Hall.

Singapore Lightworkers Guild founder Luke Lim said that when he started the group in December 2013, it had fewer than 100 members.

Just over a year later, membership to his interest-group stands at more than 1,000 members.

Vice-president of the Nanyang Technological University Buddhist Society, Mr Andy Yang, said there has been a 20 per cent rise in participation in its meditation sessions, compared to a year ago.

Mr Tay said he decided to try meditation because it was becoming more accepted.

"Nowadays, it's not something for temples or religious practices, but it's just a way to calm my mind and concentrate on the task at hand," he said.

Can meditation help cognitive focus?

Better memory, increased alertness and reduced stress are just some benefits of meditation, practitioners said.

While meditation has many variations, coach Luke Lim explained that it is, at its essence, a practice of stilling the mind by focusing on an object or thought.

Scientific research has been done on the effects of meditation.

In one study, National University of Singapore Associate Professor of Psychology Maria Kozhevnikov measured the brain activity and heart rate of long-term meditation practitioners from Bangkok and Kathmandu monasteries.

She then had them perform a memory exercise.

While there were no significant differences in the participants' physiology before and after meditation, they were better at identifying the correct images as part of the test due to their improved cognition and focus.