Celebrity chef turns to meditation for calm in pandemic

MYKE “Tatung” Sarthou is known for his books, morning show segments, restaurants, and social media channel Simpol. He’s had a rough year (just like the rest of us): he opened a restaurant, Talisay, just last year, and opened another, Pandan Asian Cafe, just a few months before the March community quarantines began. The restaurants began to operate in the middle of this year when dining-in restrictions were relaxed, albeit at limited capacity.

And because of the rough year, Mr. Sarthou turned to meditation which eventually led to producing a meditation album for Hand in Hand Deutschland-Philippinen e.V., a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on social development work.

“I started meditating over a decade ago, when I felt out of sorts with life and with my career. I was introduced to the concept of meditation back in high school from a group of nerdy friends, who explored all sorts of stuff, but it only gained a profound spiritual dimension [for me] as an adult. That’s when I started to practice meditation,” Mr. Sarthou told BusinessWorld in an email interview.

Hand in Hand is a Germany-based NGO that does small community-based development projects in the Philippines, specifically in Leyte. The NGO, which helped fund the album, was started by Mr. Sarthou’s mother.

The album, Our Healing Seed: Music for Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer, is made up of 20 tracks. There are 10 instrumental tracks and 10 readings featuring the voice of young author and astrologer Georgia Gayle with words she wrote in collaboration with Mels Timan and music by Richard Lim.

Ms. Gayle is a practicing astrologer, tarot consultant, writer, esoteric healer and occult practitioner based in the Philippines.

“I know a lot of people who suffered from anxiety and irrational fears that took control of their lives until they learned how to meditate,” she said in a press release, citing this as the reason why she started meditation.

“This is especially helpful during the pandemic where the entire world is distressed,” she added.

And Mr. Sarthou agreed that it is helpful as it allows him to calm himself “and develop mindfulness which is difficult in these times.”

“Your mind is often stressed and anxious, so I meditate to deal with that especially since I am a natural worrier. I tend to overthink and get emotionally charged,” he explained.

It may be helpful but Mr. Sarthou noted that it’s not a “magic pill” but a skill as it takes “practice and discipline [for it] to have a significant impact in your life and well-being.”

“But you have to start somewhere. Over the years I had meditated less and less, until the pandemic. That’s when I started meditating more regularly again,” he said.

As for how he uses his new meditation album, Mr. Sarthou said he “plays the tracks when I’m in the car, or walking. It soothes me. But when I meditate, I just sit in silence.”

“I use music as a tool to focus. Simply by focusing on the music rhythm and melody is already helpful in calming you down. Of course, you can go deeper into the practice eventually, but that’s good for a start,” he said.

Our Healing Seed: Music for Meditation, Affirmation and Prayer can be streamed through Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and Deezer. — Joseph L. Garcia

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