Born to refugees escaping persecution from Communist regime China, Johnson Chong grew up in the melting pot of New York City, culturally confused. A young gay boy instilled with Confucian principles leads to more confusion.
Now he helps others create more transparency within their unhealthy family dynamics – so that they can either heal or separate from them.
As an educator, Johnson volunteers and shares with LGBTQ+ groups and general audiences to take a deep look at unspoken familial contracts (expectations) to create boundaries so that they can live in their authentic expression.
Johnson Chong is the best-selling, award-winning author of Sage Sapien: From Karma to Dharma and TedX speaker. He is the founder of Sage Sapien Soul Academy – an educational portal that integrates the ancient wisdom teachings of yoga, meditation, breathwork, shamanic wisdom and conscious coaching in practical and modern ways.
He was the founder of Sagehouse in Singapore, has lived on 3 continents and is currently based in Sydney, Australia. He has also spoken and led workshops at companies like Unilever, Facebook, Insight Timer, Nike, UBS, UOB and various other organisations.
What does it mean to a shaman?
Depending on who you ask, being a shaman may mean something else. In some cultures, the title of shaman can only be inherited through the blood line, while in others, it is an initiation through Spirit. There are the plant medicine shamans who conduct ceremonies through sacred DMT plants like ayahuasca which induce radical psychedelic experiences. Around the world, there are so many paths of shamanism, all of which share the common path of connecting to Spirit/Universe directly, albeit the rituals and ceremonies may differ according to each culture.
I am initiated by the pampamesayoq paqos who are the shamanic healers of the Q’ero nation of the High Andes of Peru. I am also trained in shamanic energy medicine by the Four Winds with Dr. Alberto Villoldo, as well as shamanic journeying with Sandra Ingerman.
To me, being a shaman is about staying actively connected to Spirit through various practices that establish ayni (or the Q’ero law of reciprocity). It is about living your life aware of the synchronicities that are presented every day as blessings from the Universe.
Sometimes, people have a Hollywood lens of what it means to be a shaman. How many spirits can you see? Can you talk to dead people? Though this is definitely part of the territory. Shamanism is not about showing off your supernatural abilities. It is about your soul’s relationship with Spirit. Quite simply, are you in or out of balance? And if you’re out of balance, there are various energetic tools at your disposal to reconnect to this sense of ayni or balance.
What does being on a ‘spiritual journey’ mean for you?
Being on a continuous spiritual journey for me means constantly choosing to be in a state of presence and awareness of what is true, which isn’t always easy. My spiritual path has been full of highs and lows and continues to be an unpredictable rollercoaster ride. Arriving at a place of feeling worthy of self-love by battling my demons of rejection, fear and shedding my limiting identities was a challenging process for me. As a first-generation Asian American born and raised in New York City to conservative Chinese refugees, my childhood was full of external pressures and expectations. As products of a violent communist China, my parents unconsciously carried their history of violence and abuse into my upbringing. I remember growing up feeling like I lost my innocence too early, and that the only way to feel safe was to not let anyone in through my defense mechanisms. I moved through my teenage and early adult years with a sense of deep anxiety, stress and emotional turmoil having not fully processed my physical, mental and emotional turmoil.
How did you overcome the painful challenges in your life?
Despite a challenging childhood, there was always an inner voice in me that led me to rebel against the status quo and all that was un-fairly expected of me. Call it my angels or inner guidance, the Universe or what have you, this voice got me into a lot of trouble growing up because I pushed my parents buttons constantly. But, it was also that same voice that drove me to become a classically trained actor in a rigorous conservatory program. Through studying characters and the art of embodying other people’s stories, I became a voracious student of the inner workings of human psychology, behaviors, patterns and decision making. Acting taught me that I was not alone, and my personal issues of struggling with my identity, rejection, and the darkness within were universal themes shared by everyone. Acting was one of my first forays into self-healing.
And when I thought I was certain I knew who I was, I discovered I became an actor for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t as interested in performance as I was interested in the therapeutic effects of empathizing with the human experience through playing deeply flawed characters. I was fortunate to have been introduced to yoga in acting conservatory, which then led me to studying various yoga traditions, the transmutation of the mind and emotions through various meditation traditions, biomechanics through pilates, energetic movement through Gyrotonic, energy medicine through Reiki and shamanic healing and the embodiment of truth through InnerGuidanceTM coaching.
I sought out all of this knowledge first and foremost for my own healing journey. Along the way, I discovered that by sharing my own experiences and spreading the love was even more satisfying for my soul.
What is your mission in life?
My mission really can be summarized in helping people navigate challenging crossroads in their personal development and spiritual journey. And I consider myself very blessed to be of service to humanity in this way. Over the past 15 years of my spiritual journey and world travels, I synthesized the Sage Sapien method, a holistic system of guiding people to become more aligned to their True Self, so that they can live the lives with more love and freedom. My deepest wish is to help catalyze deep cellular shifts in as many people in the world as I can reach, so that we can collectively transform from our fearful self to our fearless self. I have had the great joy of witnessing my clients cultivate healthier relationships with themselves and their loved ones while creating the space to invite more fulfilling and meaningful experiences into their lives. Through a deepened awareness of the body, an expanded focus in the mind and an authentic yearning to shift old emotional wounds, my deepest wish for the world, is that we all learn to consciously embody the pillars of truth, love, peace and freedom so that we usher in a new paradigm of love-based being versus fear-based being.
What is it like to live traveling around the world?
Traveling for me is actually very ungrounding. My system doesn’t enjoy the constant moving around. I used to think that my hometown New York City was the center of the world. In NYC, I was the General Manager of Studio ANYA – a holistic healing hub for 3.5 years. It was an amazing experience. I was doing what I loved, and it was a very stable role, but I felt I had more soul searching to do. After of which, I felt the call to return to India, and spent 6 months teaching yoga and meditation for my dear teacher Yogrishi Vishvaketu during his absence. Then, instead of returning to the states, the universe had other plans for me. I settled in Singapore for 6 years where I founded Sagehouse a boutique studio for private yoga, pilates, meditation and spiritual coaching. And during all of this time, I ran retreats in exotic locations around the world. So, I suppose all of the traveling I do comes from a deep longing to connect to different lands and people, and to experience myself in a new light. And now, I have followed the inner call that pulled me out of my comfort zone and into new adventure where I am currently living with my partner and dog in Sydney, Australia.