While most of us usually wake up, dive into our grooming habits, and squeeze in a quick breakfast to start the day, investor, art gallery owner, registered yoga teacher (RYT 500) and meditation practitioner Michael Teh does things a little bit differently to make sure he starts it on the right foot.
“I wake up every morning to perform yoga Surya Namaska (Sun Salutation), Qi Gong movement, and meditation leading to stillness and a positive mind. I spend an hour every morning doing this prior to going out of home. It sets the right tone and mood for the day before I start my busy schedule.”
It was in 2018 when Michael discovered the true nature of meditation, having been introduced to a self development course in Singapore. Michael was initially unaware, nor was he conscious that the pressures of diversifying his investments and managing an art business were taking a toll on his emotional and mental wellbeing – leading to anxiety, insecurity, fear, and strained relationships with his family. As someone who has always been eager to learn new things to better himself personally and professionally, it wasn’t at all challenging for him to try out the course.
Little did he know that he would walk out of the program with a newfound realisation that despite his success in business and investing, he was experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. What used to be his normal life suddenly revealed itself as something detrimental to both his emotional and mental health, leading to Michael becoming more conscious about his daily habits and how he affected the people around him.
“I was ignorant too, as I grew up not knowing such a thing exists – neither can you learn it from any educational institution that you grew up with.”
“I was not conscious that the words I uttered at times could hurt my family members, due to my own stress and anxiety as a breadwinner,” Michael shares. “The course literally opened up my eyes that there’s indeed a different perception to approach to life.”
Pillars of strength
Having grown up in a traditional household, it comes as no surprise to learn that Michael’s spiritual journey initially stirred concern in his parents, who worried that this would drive a wedge in his marriage. However, after attending some of his meditation classes, he enthuses that his mother has come to understand that there is no cause for concern. Even his own sisters have become some of his proudest supporters, having attended his workshops and experience personal growth in their own life journey.
“I still have some convincing left to do with my dad though!”
And of course, Michael owes his renewed sense of self to his star pillar of strength – his wife, Allyson Yeo, who has been an open and loving supporter since Day 1. The fact that Allyson has always had an open mind towards spirituality greatly supported the development of Michael’s yoga and meditation venture.
“It helped that both of us did not have a particularly strong religious upbringing, hence the idea of meditation was welcoming as we had no preconceived taboos or misconceptions towards it.”
While those who regularly practise meditation are often more than happy to share their experiences, it’s another challenge to get others to join in on the practice, something that Michael is no stranger to.
“Becoming mindful is key to understand your own life that you are experiencing. Once mindfulness is developed, meditation can then be used to cultivate concentration.”
“I must say the judgement towards meditation is due to the fact that they could be ignorant of the underlying purpose of meditation, or was indoctrinated to a certain belief system that meditation is only for those who are lost, or for religious purposes,” he shares. “I was ignorant too, as I grew up not knowing such a thing exists – neither can you learn it from any educational institution that you grew up with.”
He also likens meditation to therapy, with the difference being the latter requiring guidance from a professional psychiatrist in an effort to find resolution. To Michael, he believes that all the answers lie within – simply waiting to be unlocked by one’s own motivation. Meditation is simply a means to help troubled souls get in touch with themselves to bring forth healing, openness, and love.
“Always practice an open mind and I will not judge which is better, as everyone is unique. There’s no harm in trying both and deciding what’s best for you!” he expresses.
What some of us – or a lot of us – might call a form of soul-searching, Michael clarifies that meditation is more than just calming the soul, but also a whetstone on which to sharpen the mind.
Life itself is governed by the minds of many, fuelled by the thoughts, emotions and opinions of people, and understood through words and actions. Through meditation, Michael didn’t just find peace within his soul, but clarity in his consciousness that would lead to a life that’s more mindful.
“Through meditation, I started to become more mindful of my thoughts, emotions, actions, words, and energy vibrations that I carry. Becoming mindful is key to understand your own life that you are experiencing. Once mindfulness is developed, meditation can then be used to cultivate concentration.”
Upon realising that he had found a formula of sorts to help ease the suffering of the self and others, Michael decided to create his new platform, “I Am Michael Teh”, as well as his signature program “The Essence of Life Workshop Series” to share his formula to evolving consciousness in order to bring more fulfilment, joy, and love to other lives. He also hopes by sharing the practice of meditation, that people will be able to realise their true purpose and awaken their inner wisdom – leading to lasting happiness, fulfilment and peace, while helping to eradicate suffering.
“My deep desire to bring Enlightenment to Earth is what propelled me to create “I Am Michael Teh” and my signature program – to share these practises with other people. Each time I am able to share this wisdom, learnings and teachings, I feel infinitely happy and fulfilled. I have found my life purpose, and the Ikigai within.”
It didn’t take long after finding his personal awakening in meditation that Michael decided to get, well, physical. Although his wife was the one who encouraged him to try out yoga even before they were married, today he actually practises yoga more regularly than she does. It was thanks to meditation and discovering his true self when he realised that he was able to develop the awareness of life force, to help open up innate channels for Qi to flow freely. He also eventually ventured into QiGong, which allowed him to naturally incorporate standing meditation, moving meditation, and Tai Chi into the practice.
Prior to his own self-realisation, the simple acts of squatting down or bending his body proved to be challenging – but ever since incorporating yoga and QiGong into his life, he finds another form of transformation.
“These two practices have transformed my life even better as I develop spontaneous meditation, moving, and making decisions without much effort,” he comments. “Life just flows with so much ease and I am very blessed to develop these skills and understanding.”
A renewed sense of self
Michael now embraces all three practises of meditation, yoga, and QiGong into his daily routine to cultivate his wellbeing. While each practice takes on different methods, they work together like the well-oiled gears to power the living machine that is the soul.
“The ultimate goal of Yoga is to lead to the union of individual consciousness to the Universal consciousness, which I term it as “Self-Realisation”,” he explains. “The ultimate aim of Qi Gong is to realise Wu Wei (non-doing), and realisation of the highest truth that every action arises from inaction, and stillness is the mother of all movement. Meditation is the end goal of leading one to a state of deep contemplation (Samadhi), where one realises that you are not just this body and mind, but Pure Awareness expressing itself.”
Photography by Anson Siau.