This is the start of a continuing series where we document the region's healing landscape and the driving forces, personalities and motivations that sustain our community.
Jacqueline and Randy of Basic Essence
For 14 years, Jacqueline Yu and Randy Ong have run Basic Essence, a holistic wellness centre located in Singapore, dedicated to the promotion of total well-being for health, beauty and personal growth.
Evolve Asia catches up with the cheerful and cheeky partners for an insightful look back upon their journey and vision for the future.
How do you usually introduce yourself and your line of work to lay people?
Jacqueline: I am a holistic wellness practitioner, specialising in Tibetan healing
Randy: I run a holistic wellness center??
What are the common responses?
Jacqueline: Sounds interesting, what EXACTLY do you do?
How long have you and/or your partner been interested in your specialization?
Jacqueline: 17 years
Tell us how you chose or were chosen for your line of work? What experiences led you here to where you are today? What decisions did you make? What trials did you face?
Jacqueline: It was for health reasons that first led me to seek alternative treatments. Second, it was the passing of my dad that led me to question life, death & after-death. I started seeking for answers. Found yoga, meditation and reiki. The practices helped me to rebalance my body, my health improved greatly, even my skin started to look better. More importantly, I was able to gain inner joy and peace.
During a trip to Byron Bay, Australia which is kind of a hippie town. I was so inspired by the energy there and came back with many ideas for Basic Essence. It was rather smooth sailing for us. As soon as we started Basic Essence, many practitioners and facilitators came knocking on our door. We did not even need to look!! Time was perfect. The energy was very supportive.
Tell us about your work, how has your work evolved and where is it headed?
From a ‘new-age’ center, we have embraced a more holistic lifestyle and our focus and specialization now is in Traditional Tibetan medicine and Tibetan art of healing.
That's interesting, how and why did you choose tibetan healing and yoga as your centre's specialisation, particularly since Jacqueline started with reiki, yoga and meditation? Was it fate, coincidence or connections?
Jacqueline: Somehow I have been drawn to all things Tibetan, the sights of prayer flags flying in the blue sky, the Himalayan ranges, the grasslands, the sound of singing bowls, the chants all invoked in me a sense of inner peace and a sense of being home. It must be a past life connection, as nothing is coincidence! I have been very blessed to connect with some great Tibetan masters in deepening my spiritual understanding.
When I was looking to deepen my holistic practice, I was immediate drawn to learning Tibetan medicine due to its innate connection with nature and its theory of interdependence and interconnection. And meeting Dr. Nida Chenagtsang and learning Tibetan medicine and mantra healing was pivotal in my spiritual growth. Everything becomes crystal clear for me and I was able to fit in my puzzle piece in this world. And I loved that spiritual practice is all part of Tibetan medicine.
What are the latest trends, advances and developments in your brand of spirituality?
We have started to teach Tibetan Healing yoga – Nejang. This yoga comes from the Tibetan medical tradition especially for healing, to rebalance internal energies, cleanse the channels and relaxes the mind.
What are Singaporeans' biggest blocks in embracing your type of spirituality?
Many Singaporeans still think of Tibetan medicine as some sort of rituals perform by a monk. It is quite far from the truth! Traditional Tibetan medicine is an ancient science that is based on the theory of interdependence. It is the theory of how nature arises from the five elements and the five elements are the basic structure of our energy, body and is connected to our mind and emotions.
Many Singaporeans will opt for alternative treatments as a last resort or look into spirituality only when they are hit hard by challenges in their rat race life.
What do you consider to be the most difficult experience you have encountered in starting and keeping afloat this business?
The most difficult experience we had was to relocate after having been in Holland Village for seven years. The rent went up too high to allow us to continue operation there.
What changes have you seen over the years in this business in terms of receptivity, enthusiasm and interest in your work?
Human nature has not changed much, so there are not much changes in terms of how people perceive our work. When the time is right for them, it takes very little for them to show interest in your work. But if it is not the right time for them to ‘awaken’, they might not even notice you.
What have you learnt on your travels and retreats abroad?
That simplicity is bliss. Especially when you travel to places where life is hard but people are genuinely happy. You realise that happiness does not equate to material possessions. True happiness comes from understanding your true nature.
What are the differences between the UK, US and other Asian scenes and the Singapore scene?
Sure, UK and US may be more ‘established’ in terms of their new age offerings and modalities. But I think the Asian and Singapore scene are also unique in that we are very much exposed to local cultural traditions and rituals of healings. These rituals may seem exotic to the Western world but are indeed part and parcel for Asians.
What do you think needs to be done to increase the holism market in Singapore?
We need to start young. The children and youth need to be exposed to more holistic lifestyle and an understanding of what balance means in life.
What do you see your role as a centre is in the holism community?
We see ourselves as the bridge to connect people back to their balance of life and to their innate spirituality. As a holistic wellness centre, we want this place to be a place for people to heal, to learn, to re-connect to their true nature. It will also be a place to support people in their personal growth.
Do you consider the market saturated for centers in Singapore?
There is always space for more centers. Different people will be drawn to different places at different time.
What advice can you give to aspiring practitioners from your past experience?
With passion, work with integrity and honesty. The well-being of the clients should be placed first.
Do you think your brand of spirituality will have a space in the mainstream in time to come?
Yes, I think so. But it may be some time yet.
What is your biggest wish for your work in the near future?
That Traditional Tibetan healing and holistic healing will not be a last resort for people. Rather, holistic health should be also a way of maintaining balance, not just for recovery.
How do you hope Singapore will evolve spiritually?
We hope for Singapore to evolve into a cohesive community of people with gentle heart for love and respect of nature. And most importantly, for all Singaporeans to find true happiness.
Basic Essence can be found at
501 bukit timah road
#04-04 cluny court
More info on www.basicessence.com
Interview conducted by Sonia Ong. All Copyrights Reserved 3rdOp 2013.