How Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute Redefines Wellness Under Covid-19

A new era of well-being has arrived.

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Never has there been a bigger wake-up call for well-being at work than Covid-19.

Working from home and zoom calls have become the “new normal”, forcing us to, in a way, become the CEO of their own life. While adapting to a new “workspace” and trying to maintain a work routine, we are also given the time and opportunity to rethink work and our well-being—and how they are connected.

A pioneer in this topic, Frederick Chavalit Tsao, co-author of Quantum Leadership: New Consciousness in Business, talks about this idea of Quantum Leadership in his book, unveiling how awakening one’s consciousness can unlock his or her leadership potential to achieve greater effectiveness and wellbeing at work. Timely and critical in the world of business, but also incredibly relevant to the wellness landscape, as Tsao’s innovative health and wellness destination, Sangha Retreat by Octave Institute reflects.

The idea behind Sangha—meaning “community” in Sanskrit—is a unifying principle derived from the Chinese wisdom of retreat: the need to withdraw and go within to expand our potentials (Yin) and the outward energy to propel us towards our goals (Yang). This deeply personal experience is at the heart of Sangha Retreat, which offers much more than conventional spa and wellness concepts.

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At One Villa at Sangha Retreat.

Opened in 2017, Sangha Retreat is a 47-acre lakeside retreat overlooking the Yangcheng Lake in the historic garden of Suzhou, China, just west of Shanghai. At the core of Sangha Retreat is what Tsao calls “conscious living”, where guests discover their greater purpose and personal well-being through “a new consciousness of becoming one with ourselves, each other and our environment”. How is this achieved in reality?

Rooted in nature, the design of Sangha Retreat, designed by Tsao’s brother Calvin Tsao of New York-based Tsao & McKown, is guided by local tradition and sustainability. With the intention to make guests feel at home and connected to each other and their surroundings, low-rise buildings using local stones, natural and reclaimed materials, alongside gardens and water elements contribute to the calming ambience. The space has been purposefully built to “raise consciousness”, which helps guests to manage their well-being and ultimately, find joy.

“Joy is the best way to measure well-being. When you’re stressed, your immune system becomes low, too.”
Frederick Chavalit Tsao
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Swimming pool at Sangha Retreat.

Combining traditional Eastern philosophies of Tao and Confucius with modern Western science, Sangha Retreat’s wellness offerings are designed to expand one’s consciousness. Setting itself apart from common wellness programmes, Sangha Retreat offers an advanced medical clinic, At One Clinic, with an international team of doctors and wellness experts; At One Healing Spa with 12-stage hydrothermal circuit; sound healing & meditation domes that sit on quartz crystals; Thought For Food serving nutritious, customised menus using local and organic produce; 60 guest suite accommodations; lakeside villas and The Village for quantum leadership retreats with translation services for summits, exhibitions and festivals.

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Pilates room at Sangha Retreat.

On Covid-19, Tsao says “It’s a wakeup call that makes us see the interconnectedness of our existence, reflect life and look at technology.” In response to the pandemic, Sangha Retreat initiated new Immunity Boosting Programmes in May, providing the tools and knowledge needed for lasting self-healing in times of crisis. “Stress, sleep, nutrition, thought-patterns, pollution—they all play a part when it comes to immunity,” says Tsao. Each of the programmes begins with an extensive wellness assessments and lifestyle consultations, based on which a personalised programme is designed to meet the individual’s health needs. By addressing the root cause through therapeutic treatments, nutritional plans, Traditional Chinese Medicine, massage therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion, personal training, pilates and more, the programme offers a path to optimal living for guests who wish to improve health for the long term.

“We’ve also been focusing on developing online,” adds Tsao. “Online is the best way to serve our customers. We encourage our guests to learn about mindfulness through our online platform before they come in for the healing intervention.”

Find out more about Sangha by Octave Institute at

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