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Balance evades us all at one time or another, especially in a culture consumed by productivity. OMSA Founder Valerie Ho was no exception – she lived to work in her 20s. She spent most of her time working or thinking about work, focused on climbing the corporate ladder. It wasn’t until Ho attended an introduction to Reiki class that she realized her life needed more balance.
Now, Ho works a full-time job in asset management while operating OMSA, a wellness and mystic shop, on the side. TMS sat down to chat with Ho about founding OMSA and her transition from hustle to health.
From hustle to health
Many of us are obsessed with appearing productive. In fact, our society has turned it into a competition.
A perfunctory “how are you doing?" has become an invitation to rant about what a busy and exhausting life you lead. “You got six hours of sleep last night? You’re so lucky! I’ve slept a total of two hours this week," complains the resident insomniac who seems perpetually caffeinated and ready to get results. Maybe you’re envious of said insomniac’s inhuman ability to finish a report on two hours of sleep and an empty stomach. Or maybe their words make you feel guilty for watching Netflix or reading a thriller last night. Or perhaps it gives you the competitive edge you need to keep working.
“Hong Kong is a very energetic, [a] very ‘work hard, play hard’ kind of place," says Ho. “I think in your 20s, you’re kind of exploring everything. And it’s fine to do that, and you almost feel energized because you are uplifted by all of the competitive energy.
“I think that’s fine for maybe a year or two, but after 10 years, 12 years, you start to burn out," admits Ho. “If you’re working a hard, very intense job, you want to relax by doing sports or going into the gym. I used to do very intense things like run a 10k in the heat of the summer because it matched my intense lifestyle when I was in my early 20s. I started to realize that when I was very stressed and burnt out from my job, running another 10k or twisting myself into a sauna hot yoga pretzel was actually not helping me destress – it was actually making me more tired and making my body more inflamed."
Ho believes her shift toward balance began in her late 20s when she came across an introduction to Reiki. Ho compares Reiki to a massage without touch. The energy-healing practice helps reduce anxiety and promotes relaxation. Reiki practitioners transfer energy from their hands to their patients’ bodies to improve the flow and balance of their energy – all without touch. Many medical professionals have noted Reiki’s beneficial properties, though they recommend Reiki as a supplemental and not a substitutional treatment.
Intrigued by wellness and spirituality, Ho embarked on what she describes as a “soul-searching" journey. But she didn’t have the tools to support that journey. These tools include crystals, essential oils and herbs.
“Of course, I did the inner work of unbundling of the things that might have caused trauma and really digging deep into that," says Ho. “But all the things that help to create a safe environment for you to go through that journey – I didn’t have those."
Enter OMSA, Ho’s wellness and mystic shop holistically stocked with self-care products, quality-vetted crystals, sacred herbs, oracle cards and other tools.
“We’re not the first crystal shop to exist in Hong Kong," says Ho. “But our mission is to really create that community of people who are all working together while on their own journeys, so we can either come together and support one another or just to have the tools that we need to assist us and allow our healing process to deepen."
Ho prioritizes accessibility and sustainability when it comes to OMSA’s approach. She wants everyone to be able to appreciate and experience tools that encourage spiritual expression. OMSA’s team also has a careful vetting process when it comes to sourcing crystals.
“When we do our procurement process and we work with vendors, we ask them to file a questionnaire on ethical practices, including child labor, ethical wages, how they mined and source their crystals," explains Ho. “[So hopefully when our clients] receive the package, they will sense that our items come with the highest vibration, ready for them to use."
How you can practice wellness at home
Ho recommends experimenting with simple tools like essential oils. Once you find what helps you feel centered, incorporate those into your daily life. “I love using really natural essential oils without any artificial fragrance," enthuses Ho. “And when I wash my hands with that, I feel really good.
“When I prepare for interviews or discussions, I, of course, prepare the materials. But having the right mindset and feeling calm and grounded with my incense or my crystals or whatever it is, [those tools] allow your higher self to speak to you when you have had those conversations or those important discussions."
She also brings up the idea of making time versus taking time. Whether you’re washing your hands in the bathroom or taking the elevator, Ho recommends taking that time to breathe and reflect. Any passive activity can be used as a time to focus on wellness.
“You shouldn’t think of wellness as this sacred thing to be carved out of your day. Just anytime you can practice wellness and self care, do it. It’s the mindset that allows us to change our frequency, change our emotional setting at any time. Right? And that’s very powerful."