By Victor Escribano
Shanghai, China, Sep 6 (EFE).- With work-related stress on the rise in China, young people are beginning to incorporate the Buddhist practice of meditation in their daily lives.
Intense competition at workplace, endless hours at the office and increasing costs of living in large Chinese cities, apart from the Covid-19 pandemic since last year, are responsible for nearly 35 percent of people in China facing psychological issues, according to a study by the Shanghai Mental Health Center.
Local news portal Sixth Tone reported that despite the impact of Covid-19 on economic activity, the number of yoga studios rose by nine percent in 2020, a trend that – although there are no official data – has also been noticed in similar practices such as meditation.
Huang Xinyi perfectly fitted into this profile of a successful Chinese youth overburdened by stress.
After studying real estate management and subsequently shifting to fashion and luxury, Huang spent five years in Paris working for Galeries Lafayette before returning to her country, where she opened a successful studio helping European designers enter the Chinese market.
“By the age of 27, I had already achieved a good financial status,” she explained to EFE. “It was at that time when I realized that I no longer knew what else to do with my life. I had money, a big career ahead but I didn’t have a life of my own.”
She then decided to leave everything behind and begin a journey that led her to learn the meditation techniques of ‘mindfulness’ in Spain and Germany.
Huang returned to her native Shanghai at the age of 30 and opened a studio, Creative Shelter.
The place is located in a small shopping center in the heart of the city, decorated with a traditional ‘batik’ print technique – used by ethnic groups in southwestern China – and small yellow lights, while a huge curtain engulfs visitors into a separate world of calmness.
Huang gently hits three gongs or maneuvers white glass bowls, generating pools of vibrations that can be felt even a couple of meters away, producing a relaxing sensation.
“Some people think they can record the sound and do it at home, but here they perceive the vibrations with the whole body. Some fall asleep in 90 seconds,” she said.
The sessions last an hour and have a maximum of 12 people. While each session costs 220 yuan (about $34), there is an annual subscription available for 10,000 yuan for those attending three to four times a week.
According to Huang, the clients at Creative Shelter “look for solutions and ways to improve their lives,” as many feel trapped in their careers or are unable to fall asleep at night. “Some tell me that here they feel as if they have entered another world.”
Easy Wang, an entrepreneur and promoter at charity events, is one the regulars at Creative Shelter.
“Every day I am involved in creative things and I’m always multi-tasking. I love it, but sometimes it leaves my head in chaos. Mindfulness helps me to free myself from complexity and enter a world of simplicity,” Wang told EFE.
“It helps you to have a clear mind when facing problems and to have more confidence and energy every day,” he explained.
Although meditation is something that can be done at home – Huang claims she does not seek to hold on to her clients but only help them develop this habit – most clients also come in search of a support group.
Most clients at Creative Shelter are young people aged between 23 and 45.
“There is a mental health problem that is not being addressed enough. Some Chinese youth spend most of their time watching videos because they want to escape reality, and the best way to do that is by doing nothing,” Huang stressed.