Celeste Chong is a Singapore-based wellness expert. She talks to us about her journey from being a high-functioning alcoholic, to running two award-winning lifestyle brands, to founding her current business, The Inside Job.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I love creating experiences that align with my passions and interests. I played active roles in creating two award-winning lifestyle brands in Singapore.
In my 20s I co-founded The Butter Factory, which won the Singapore Tourism Board's prestigious "Best Nightspot Experience 2011" award. Also, as part of The Great Room's founding team, I built the brand as a premium co-working space focusing on "all work, all play" experiences.
In 2017 I began my journey of recovery and self-discovery, which led me here. Today I create soulful experiences for inner awareness.
What kind of work does your role involve?
The Inside Job was intended to be a Sound Bath studio providing soulful experiences for inner awareness. While looking for investors, COVID-19 happened, and I've had to adapt.
I started offering online guided meditation sound baths and was approached by COMO Shambhala. Currently, I facilitate Cacao Ceremonies at their studio.
Play is very much in my blueprint. While previously, play was about escaping and disconnecting. Today, I embrace play as a means of reconnecting to Self.
In my Cacao Ceremony, I guide others out of their heads into their hearts to connect, play, reflect and relax. Always drawn to music and sound, today I incorporate both in the experiences I create.
What gets you excited about your industry?
That it has SO MUCH growth potential! 2020 forced us to slow down and notice our inner world. There is more attention paid to mental health now.
I bought into the hustle culture and believed emotions were for the weak. But in my journey out of my head into my heart, I finally understand happiness is an inside job.
Today, I have a life that I no longer need to escape from. It is a magical feeling when your heart breaks open. I genuinely want everyone to be able to experience this. I believe this is the only way we begin to make real changes in the world.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Take it one day at a time, and you need to feel to heal.
What, or who inspires you?
I love Dr Gabor Mate!
I discovered him recently, and I've watched countless videos of his various talks on YouTube. I've read his books "When the body says No" and "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" and I'm about to start "Scattered Minds". All that I've watched and read so far resonates with me. We can all benefit from his compassionate view on addiction, change our perspective on trauma, and we begin to understand the cause of dis-ease.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
When I was searching for wellness trends, I found the Global Wellness Summit to be helpful.
There has been a wealth of free information online since the lockdowns in 2020, and I've attended webinars like the Earthkeepers Summit by the Four Winds Society and the Global resilience summit by Heart Mind Institute.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
Definitely my own transformation. As a high functioning alcoholic for 20 years, I numbed all discomfort and unpleasant emotions. All I did was drink and work. I am no stranger to the phenomenon of today society's addiction to distraction.
In sobriety, anxiety started to surface, which led me to inner work and facing the emotions I had numbed and pushed aside. Learning first hand that courage is not the absence of fear but action in the face of fear.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Haha first, thank the universe!
Build my dream studio, one in Singapore, one in Bali.
Invest in the programming (that is, world-class workshops to provide the life skills we need but were never taught to help us navigate our inner world and experiences where we learn to reconnect to our true Self through play).
Give some to family and setting some aside as savings.
Donate to those in extreme poverty, nobody should have to go hungry.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
It took me this many years to learn that I am most productive when I follow my body's rhythm and flow. I am more in tune with my body, and I listen when it needs rest. On days I need to replenish, I spend time in the park, read and relax. But on a more regular basis, I "shut off" mentally from work past 7pm when my brain is no longer fresh.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
For people to realize that health and wellness extend beyond the physical. Your mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness are just as important and are not "woo woo" or "new age".
We have grown up with the western medical way of addressing only the physical symptoms; we attribute most dis-ease to genes, but there is growing evidence that our childhood and life experiences play a more significant role than we think.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I highly recommend Dr Gabor Mate!
These two books of his in particular:
1. When the Body Says No: The cost of hidden stress
2. In the realm of hungry ghosts: Close encounters with addiction
I'd also recommend watching:
Dr Gabor Maté ~ Who We Are When We Are Not Addicted: The Possible Human (Recorded 2012 in Vancouver, B.C. as part of a launch for Beyond Addiction: a program created by Sat Dharam Kaur).
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts - A Candid Conversation About Addiction with Dr Gabor Maté and Joe Polish (Recorded LIVE at the 2017 Genius Network Annual Event).
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via
https://www.linkedin.com/in/celestechong/ or my website https://theinsidejob.sg/, or on Instagram:
If you are in Singapore, find me at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape. I facilitate a Cacao Ceremony every 2 weeks, and I offer a relaxation sound bath twice a week.
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