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Behind the Sounditation Journey with Tsang Man-tung


Finding Pause at the +UP! Better Living Pop-ups

Day in and day out, we’re looking towards the next thing: the next deadline, next project, next big goal.


But what about right now?


In October, the Sounditation Journey at the “+UP! Better Living Pop-ups” combined visual arts, healing sounds, and meditation to remind us about the importance of taking a breath during a hectic workday. Now that the sessions have come to a close, we speak to singing bowl artist and scenographer Tsang Man-tung about the extraordinary experience that inspired the Taikoo Place community to become more aware of the present moment.


What does “Sounditation” mean – and what went into the thinking behind ArtisTree’s most recent transformation into your wellness hub? Let’s find out.



It’s a wonderful opportunity to chat with you today, Mr. Tsang. But before we get into how you put the Journey together – we can’t really escape the word “wellness” in our conversations nowadays. Why do you think that is?

Wellness, isn’t just something we’ve been talking about for the past few years, actually. We’ve been noticing our bodies and minds for the past few hundred years, but what we have in this generation is information. We know more about techniques, and we proactively seek more information through books, attending talks…


That’s a good thing, right?

I think we’re too focused on listening to someone else tell us what to do, when in fact, we need to reclaim our autonomy and decide, yes – today, I will stop and be still for five minutes. The question is: do you want to? The path to wellbeing is simpler than you think.


So in terms of wellness and gaining mind/body balance, we’re often our own obstacles.

Nowadays, we’re not motivated by things that don’t give immediate results. We also feel that if we give a lot, we have to receive a lot in return. And we’re always “busy”.


We overlook the importance of a rhythm in life. Mind/body balance isn’t about getting results; it’s about finding pause. As working people in a busy metropolitan city, we’re always rushing uphill, racing upward. We’re unwilling to be kind to ourselves and treat our bodies like a machine. What we want instead is to appreciate the ebbs and flows in life: go up, find pause, come down, then up again. When you have that space to pause, that’s how your life becomes full, brilliant. This is the rhythm and the balance that we try to achieve.


How do we begin to invite wellness in?

I always say, you can cultivate awareness when you’re drinking a glass of water; be observant when you’re staring into space. If you decide to act on wellness, the next step is to understand yourself better and use methods that work for you.


Many of us recently joined you at the Sounditation Journey to learn just that.

That’s right. “Sounditation”, simply put, is removing the “me” from “meditation” and using sound to connect you to your surroundings. We designed the 45-minute journey to bring your five senses together to give you a pause during a busy workday.


It was a rare occasion that combined visual arts, sound, and meditation – an ultimate sensory experience.

Did you know that theatres were previously healing spaces? I wanted to use this idea to completely recreate ArtisTree to bring the most out of our natural senses.


90% of what we sense now is visual – that’s what attracts us and lures us in. I’ve had over 20 years of set design experience, designing over 300 shows, and understand that we are all instinctually drawn to beautiful, tangible architecture and design. But it’s never about the physical structure, really – it’s about how you react to and feel about a space when you experience it.


What kinds of design considerations did you make, then, for the Sounditation Journey?

I used ambient light, videos and my own photography around Hong Kong in the space in ArtisTree. We used basic shapes and clean lines in the design – and in the middle of the stage, a symbolic bronze mirror that represented reflection [of your journey]. Meanwhile, the circles and lines on the walls also mirrored the shapes of the singing bowl and mallet. All of these details brought together a holistic, sensorial setting for our practice.


But ultimately, the design of a space is always about the audience. It’s their energy that completes it.

“Sounds”, then, added another dimension to the Journey.

Yes – just as I wanted to create a space for people to pique your imagination, I was also using sounds to stir up personal memories, for you to make a stronger connection with yourself. We use sounds to observe and to live in the present moment.


For each session, we started with breathing exercises to ground ourselves. I then led participants to use a singing bowl as they became more aware of their response to its vibrations. After that, we settled in for some relaxation, during which I guided everyone – actually, the sound was what guided everyone – for a 10-15 minutes of meditation as I performed with Himalayan singing bowls.

It sounds like it was an extraordinary experience.

It was truly special. I wanted us to engage our senses right away. The Sounditation Journey began at the “Purification Tunnel”, where participants were immediately immersed in the sounds of nature while seeing photos of the woodlands of Hong Kong. As I mentioned, the lighting arrangements set a soothing, comfortable atmosphere for our session, which was topped off with aromatherapy.

And all this happened conveniently at ArtisTree!

ArtisTree, I have to say, is very forward-thinking with their ideas; they put on shows that not many others can, or will. To host an experience like this at a mainstream location shows their dedication to caring for the office workers in the Taikoo Place community, to bringing positivity into routine working lives. Through our partnership, we brought people something that’s not only exciting, but beneficial, through art.


Ultimately, what did you wish for this journey to show us about our wellness journeys?

You’ve already planted the seed for your wellbeing. Maybe you didn’t feel anything immediately after the Sounditation Journey – but remember that it’s not about a grandiose gesture, a single moment, but an ongoing journey that is unlike anyone elses’. Five years later, you might remember this time at ArtisTree and be inspired to take a pause. That’s more than we can ask for.


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