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ALUMNI STORIES1970sLabyrinth of LifeWalking towards calm through the twists and turns of life.When Martha (Goudey) Collard ’76 arrived in Hong Kong from Stamford, CT in 1972, she was excited. She had had a difficult time in the inner city school and quickly began to take advantage of the myriad of experiences now available to her. “HKIS offered opportunities,” she explains. “You just showed up and you could do anything.” Little did she know this thirst for discovery would lead her down many paths, just like the labyrinths she would go on to create years later. And, would eventually lead her to find calm amid the chaos and the founding of her company Red Doors Studio, a hub of relaxation and wellbeing in the heart of the Southside of Hong Kong.
Upon graduating from HKIS in 1976, Martha headed to Canada to study marine biology and later attended McGill to earn a Graduate Diploma in Business. She found work in medical research then returned to Hong Kong in 1984. She began in publishing, but quickly moved to headhunting, becoming the youngest partner worldwide. It was at this time she became interested in psychometric profiling and understanding why people do what they do. This led her into freelance management consulting in the areas of people, performance and effectiveness, coaching and leadership development for nearly 30 years working with senior management teams in Asia. Martha with her prized gong displayed in her Wong Chuk Hang showroom, Red Doors Studio.Along the way, she started practicing yoga as a way to de-stress, and in 1998 founded the Yoga Society of Hong Kong and Namaskar Magazine. When a meditation retreat she wanted to attend was fully booked, she googled ‘walking meditation’ and discovered labyrinths. It was love at first sight, and she immediately flew to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for training. She learned labyrinths are one of the fastest ways to elicit a relaxation response and reduce heart rate dating back 5,000 years.
Martha would go on to become the only certified labyrinth builder in Asia. Her mission is to share these tools as a means to improve mental health in the community, including work she has done annually with HKIS students and humanities teacher Marty Schmidt. In 2010, she built a labyrinth on the HKIS field for the entire High School for their “Circle of Thanks” initiative. She has since created labyrinths at the Star Ferry in Central, St. John’s Cathedral, the Nesbitt Centre and at the Centre on Behavioral Health at the University of Hong Kong to name a few. ““HKIS offered opportunities,” she explains. “You just showed up and you could do anything.” She reveled in this, and tried everything she could; her love of trying new things and lifelong learning was born.Martha radiating calm and joy in a recent photo.Another pathway opened up, and Martha joined Lane Crawford Joyce Group (LCJG) at the request of the owner to create a world-class holistic welfare platform to serve the corporation of 4,500 staff. Martha had learned a lot about wellness from a corporate perspective through the years and created a wellness audit with the perspective of emotional, financial, career, social and physical wellbeing. At this time she was introduced to kundalini yoga. And again, listening to her intuition travelled to New Mexico for teacher training. It was here she experienced her first gong relaxation. It was life changing. She bought her first gong despite never having touched one and played it daily for the staff back in Hong Kong. After four years at LCJG, Martha left to establish Red Doors Studio.
The studio is a center of calm in the city offering practices ancient in origin but highly relevant for today. Gongs, labyrinths, and kundalini yoga have proven track records spanning thousands of years to help participants find balance and remove energy blocks. Currently the studio hosts the largest collection of meditation gongs in Asia and is a Centre of Excellence for Paiste, and other manufacturers of quality instruments.
When asked why she does what she does, she says, “the world is speeding up and humans cannot possibly keep up. I believe we simply need to stop and REST. These tools are ideal for tackling the scourges of modern man, stress and depression. My offerings restore balance and harmony and allow your entire body to relax, renew, and rejuvenate. They are simple, low tech, across cultures, and are accessible to all.”
As Steve Jobs said, “we can only make sense of our life path through hindsight”. Martha’s life mirrors the twists and turns of the labyrinths she makes, always leading ever closer to the center of calm amidst chaos. Above Martha in her Red Doors Studio and gong showroom during a meditative gong session. Get in touch with Martha Collard at Red Doors Studio. HKIS Today+
Health & WellbeingMindfulness in Middle Schoolby Amy Smith Middle School Health TeacherSeveral years ago, I stumbled across some research about meditation in schools, and was blown away by how effective it was for students. Aside from the obvious benefit of stress reduction, it was also shown to improve focus, creativity, test scores and most importantly, happiness levels. As a Health teacher, I was eager to introduce it to my Middle School students right away. After onboarding some of my more reluctant 6th graders–stats about meditation in the NBA certainly helped–and trying out some different programs, we settled on Smiling Mind, a free meditation app from Australia.
Now, at the beginning of every other Health class, students in grades 6-8 settle into their seats or grab a pillow and lie down to disconnect from their screens and give their overthinking minds a few minutes to reset. With so many things uncertain right now, I no longer need to worry about onboarding reluctant students. Everyone is eager for additional ways to cope with their stress. In fact, just today, one of my more energetic 6th graders came into class asking, “Are we doing meditation today?”
When I told him we were, he pumped his fist and said “Yesssss”. I’d call that a win. Middle School CounselorJohn Everett meets with students on a variety of topics relating to social and emotional wellbeing.“"Meditation can allow you to be more relaxed and set you up for the rest of the day."HKIS student, grade 7Relaxation Room located in the HKIS Middle School Student Services Center.