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This month we profile another dynamic duo in Singapore's healing community Vikas Malkani (above left) and Sally Forrest (above right) who have been operating Soul Centre Singapore for the past 10 years. Sally Forrest talks to Evolve Asia about their journey.
How do you usually introduce yourself and your line of work to lay people?
Our purpose is to inspire people to bring out the best from within and to simply be the best that they can be. Vikas is usually known as a best selling author, inspirational speaker and life guide. Sally is usually known as a Reiki teacher, Feng Shui and BaZi expert and an inspiration to women .
What are the common responses?
WOW thats interesting - tell me more .
or ..Wow thats really interesting wish I could do something exciting with my life
How long have you been interested in your specialization?
(Vikas has been on the journey since a teenager, Sally since her mid 30's )
Our stories alone would fill a book !
In short we were guided to each other in the most amazing of ways !
I was a very successful executive working with the Boots company and my whole life focus at the time was the next promotion, bigger car / house etc etc ...I was asked by Boots to go to Thailand and to open the retail Boots stores there. I did this and loved every moment as it was fast paced- positive and we were giving jobs to many people and opening 70 stores all across Thailand in 3 years. After 3 years Boots asked me to return to the UK to support the downsizing of the company head office ...which means making people redundant. My work permit depended on this and so I returned ..but each morning as I woke my heart was dying ..this was not the job for me .....so after 17 years in senior roles , one morning I woke up and I quite my job !
I returned to Asia and my first mission was to build an Orphanage - which is now fully operational in Chiang Mai
It was here whilst dealing with the hill tribes that I realized people have no access to medicine yet could heal themselves ....as a medical pharmacist this was fascinating to me and it was the start of my journey of the mind-body connections.
To cut an amazing story short - a friend in Singapore gave me a flyer about a visiting Indian Master called Vikas Malkani . I did not intend to go , but on the day of the talk as I moved some books on my coffee table- the flyer fell out and it was that night ..so I went ....and was amazed at the teachings.
I went to India later that year and was sitting in his office explaining that I intended to open a business in Singapore , when his phone rang and his current Singapore promoter was moving to Australia for 3 years , but one of her concerns was who would support his work.
He put the phone down and said - lets combine strengths and open SoulCentre in Singapore.
That was in 2003 ...and of course I said YES !
Vikas was the CEO of his family business - when at the age of 29 he had what can only be described as an awakening / higher awareness experience.
He quit his job and knew from that moment he had to share
He started to simply talk to people .
More and more people started to come and so SoulCentre was established.
He put his teachings into books and it was one of these books which a lady in Singapore read , on Meditation, that inspired her to bring Vikas to Singapore
That was when I met him ;)
How long have you been in business?
We opened SoulCentre in 2004 in Singapore.
Tell us how you chose or were chosen for your line of work?
We were both on our individual journeys of self discovery. We certainly were guided and each realization led us to the right opportunity and the realization we need to share and help others.
So it was a natural progression of our own journey of growth .
When you find a precious treasure ,you want to share it with others.
Once we received something of such immense benefit,we wanted to give to others too.
What experiences led you here to where you are today? What decisions did you make? What trials did you face?
We both left the corporate / business world and ventured out on our own .
The combination is amazing! We decided to bring SoulCentre to Singapore and to offer high quality,professional, genuine ,tried and tested wisdom and techniques in a premium space to our students.
This dedication to authenticity and professionalism is what has today made SoulCentre recognized as Asia's Premier Personal Development Centre
The initial few years were tough ,but we never doubted our vision and stuck to it with total commitment.
Of course the corporate world is certainly the "easier " route , however we knew once we were established then it would be well worth the effort.
How has your work evolved and where is it headed?
Our work constantly evolves. We are blessed that so many happy students come back for more learnings and recommend others.
We live by our own concepts of CPI - constant personal improvement
Our Children's brand - SoulKids(R) is focussed on giving children vital life lessons on self confidence / self belief and essential skills at a young age . This is expanding globally now and additional SoulKids centers will soon be opening in Singapore. Our belief is if we can impart valuable life lessons in children at a young age- then they will certainly have less turbulence and issues as adults.
SoulCentre is also expanding internationally - with 3 main specialisms - Meditation, Reiki and Life Coaching .
It is so rewarding to see that people really appreciate the professionalism and quality of the training we provide and want to take it to their own countries .
What are the latest trends, advances and developments in your brand of spirituality?
The wisdom of truth has always been the same.
The truth is what does not change.
However the ways of communicating are always evolving.
We find that authenticity is valued more and more by sincere students , and this is perhaps due to the erosion of values and increase of inauthenticity in our world. We support students to apply the spiritual teachings to the storms of life they experience - divorce, death, ill health ,loss of job etc
Of course the ultimate goal is to be equanimous no matter the storm of life .
we live this principle of being equanimous .
What are Singaporeans' biggest blocks in embracing your type of spirituality?
We actually do not find any blocks .
Once people meet us they see the authenticity and the truth and join us.
Tell us about your understanding of the holism scene, how long it has been around and where it is headed in the near future.
Spirituality started to become more mainstream in the 60/70's I guess.
Before that it was limited to serious seekers who had to go and find the truth.
It will continue to grow and expand in Singapore and all over the world.
What changes have you seen over the years in this business in terms of receptivity, enthusiasm and interest in your work?
People are very receptive to our work and usually send their partner and family along once they have tasted the wisdom.
Our work continues to grow year on year .
Today we are a committed ,successful centre and a brand that is recognized internationally and not just in Singapore for the high quality of spiritual work that we do .
What were and are the roles of foreign practitioners in Singapore?
It's great that they come and visit , the market needs all sorts of practitioners and disciplines.
Do you think there is a dearth of local practitioners? Why?
We do not think there is a dearth .
Many of our certified teachers and experts are local singaporeans.
We find that they can always find their niche in terms of timing / location / types of students. We actually think the market is growing as a result.
What do you consider to be the three most difficult experiences you have encountered in starting and keeping afloat this business?
1)Finding a great location that is affordable. Rental prices in Singapore are a huge issue - rentals can go up as much as 25% on renewal.
2) Finding great staff to support the vision
3) The fact you have to juggle time between running a business and teaching .
4) In order to be a professional business you need to adhere to many legal requirements in Singapore - accounting practices - employment laws - protection of intellectual property - health & safety etc ...
Of course with our corporate experience and background this is second nature to us - however setting up and maintaining all these systems and processes does take a lot of time
It is of course a very different role when you are dealing with corporate compliance compared to inspiring others through teaching.
What do you think needs to be done to increase the holism market in Singapore?
It wil grow organically as more and more people see the need for holistic wisdom and techniques to support their health,happiness and abundance.
Whatever is done and communicated needs to be done in a professional and authentic manner .
What do you see your role as a centre in the holism community?
We believe we set a standard of professional work and authentic wisdom that is a benchmark for the industry. We often speak at SME events as the SoulCentre and SoulKids brands are seen as ones of excellence. I am also on many committees in Singapore pushing professionalism and good practices of running a business. SoulKids was also featured at the recent Marina Bay Sands Franchising and Licensing show as part of the opening ceremony .
Both of us are Certified Franchise Executives , having undertaken a 2 year training course , so we are now experts at licensing and expanding the business internationally.
Do you consider the market saturated for centers in Singapore?
The market is always expanding , so there is always room for growth.
However only the good ones will thrive and flourish .
Not many will make it past 10 years.
There has to be a real business understanding of ROI , Cash Flow and Break even analysis for businesses to thrive in Singapore
What advice can you give to aspiring practitioners from your past experience?
Find the best teachers to work with
Work on yourself with dedication and discipline until you have transformed.
Only then help others. Stay close to your teachers and sources of wisdom .....just like a mobile phone , you too need to be charged regularly !
What are your thoughts on the issue of commerce and spirituality?
There is no conflict between the two.
Spiritual wisdom includes all aspects of life and financial well being is as important as physical and emotional well being
Whole-ness includes all aspects of life
Do you think that practitioners are bad if they charge and worse if they charge higher? Do you think that our services are too pricey in general?
One should judge the teacher on the quality of the teaching and the professionalism they demonstrate.
Focus on the benefits you receive and not just on the fees you pay
As they say , the price for a good product is soon forgotten, however the quality is cherished forever.
Our students find great value in what we offer and come back to us again and again .
How have you reconciled the two in your life?
For us there has never been any disconnect between the 2 aspects.
When you see the big picture you realize that all aspects are a part of it .
What is your biggest wish for your work in the near future?
We intend to reach out and support more people to reach their highest potential for happiness and abundance.
We are expanding both in Singapore and globally .
We are always looking for like minded passionate people to work with us on expanding our brand .
Do you think your brand of spirituality will have a space in the mainstream in time to come?
Most definitely. SoulCentre will be more visible and touch more people in time to come. This is a part of our vision and already there are interested parties discussing options with us
How do you hope Singapore will evolve spiritually?
It will only get better !
More and more people will realize the value of spiritual wisdom and its the only thing that brings lasting happiness , inner peace and wellness
SoulCentre is here to support Singapore to grow happier and more fulfilled
Soulcentre can be found at
91 Bencoolen Street , 12-04
Sunshine Plaza,Singapore 189652
Tel: (65) 9875 2372, (65) 8128 7418
Find out more about trainings and programmes mentioned here
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