I’ve been in Seoul nearly 2 months now and the only real observation I can make is that I Am Present. I am with the familiar, the unfamiliar, the challenging discomforts, the joyous comforts, the new routines and the constant changes with a seamless ease that makes me feel suspended between this world and another. It’s like I am watching a beautiful life of synchronicities and serendipitous meetings unfold, watching the moments pass by with simultaneous bliss and suffering, and screaming with gratitude all the while.
December was a month of loneliness, confusion, heartache, uber-caffeine and a wacky diet, and also a very stable yoga practice with a tapas (discipline) of heavy pranayama and meditation. I had a winter’s hibernation and barely left my house for 6 weeks, taking a lot of silence, reflecting on my cravings for people and things, and accepting my less-than-exuberant emotional and physical state. There was a solid week where I was so angry at myself for coming here and completely convinced that I had made the wrong choice. It was hard. And as I emerge, I feel that the cocoon has preserved and evolved me with stronger and more beautiful wings with which to fly into new and unknown territory.
Since I started teaching in early January, I’ve found a lot of companionship and positive energy in my colleagues. I am adjusting my daily practice to move into what supports me while teaching full-time to high-energy kindergartners, abstained for 3 weeks from coffee and sugar, and seriously reset my diet. I enter a new month feeling energized, excited for the year ahead, and without fear or doubt that I am right where I need to be, learning lessons I have been perfectly ripened for.
I am blessed to be on a 10-month journey with a group of people moving through the yamas and niyamas, the traditional ways to live according to the Yoga path. This week we began month five, aparigraha or non-attachment, which I find to be the crux of a spiritual lifestyle. The basis of non-attachment for me is TRUST, which is my intention for 2015. The more I actually let go, relax into the intelligence of the Universe, and laugh at the ridiculousness of my claim to know anything, the easier I can accept what comes and let go of what goes. It is a dance that takes practice, precision, and expertise, and eventually completely freeing oneself of all those things. Good thing I packed my dancing shoes.
When I first got to Seoul, the Universe directed me to a few interesting opportunities which I decided to pursue. One was to audition for an international choir which has a pretty solid rehearsal and performance schedule throughout the year. I haven’t sung in a choir in many, many years so I was excited and nervous when I found out a few weeks ago that I was accepted. We started rehearsals last week and already my soul is rejoicing at getting to make music with trained singers and sing in beautiful, beneficial engagements around Korea. Apparently, this year is one of making music for me, with teaching music full-time and singing once or twice a week with the choir. And in this, a part of me that’s been trying to get my attention for a while quietly rejoices.
Another opportunity was a small organization I found that coaches and tutors North Korean refugees living in Seoul. I expressed interest in volunteering a few weeks ago and am now coaching two North Korean refugees on telling their story and speaking about how to change things for North Koreans and refugees. One has already been accepted to speak at three engagements in the US in two weeks, and I have a feeling they will both be frequently commissioned as the national and global energy for Korean Unification grows this year. I’ve started posting on the Supporters without Borders page with links, information, and how you can help if you’re interested. I personally believe Korean Unification is imminent and it’s up to us an international community to offer much-needed support however we can. Please visit the page and offer your encouragement!
I made a few blog posts earlier this month with some photos of the adorable kids in my school and my quaint and peaceful apartment. I also posted about my visa trip to Japan, a hilarious comedy of errors that involved traveling to Japan and back twice in subsequent weeks to get my Korean work visa.
Quite unexpectedly, right after I started my job, I was asked if I could teach yoga to the staff one evening a week. It became obvious that there was a lot of interest, so I accepted and we began our classes tonight. Six women attended, with many more excited to join next week, and they have already asked me to teach several times a week for 2+ hours a class. That sort of aspiration cannot go unheeded, in my opinion. I had no intention of teaching yoga this year and thought that I would take a little sabbatical, but I warmly welcome this opportunity and hope that my students will find peace, balance, and restoration from our practices together. I am in jaw-dropping awe of where the Universe has already led me in the past 7 weeks and baffled to even imagine what this year in Korea will look like.
Which leads me to my wrap up and take home from this lengthy post: be open to what comes.
Life is endlessly unexpected, and being present is the only way to embrace the stream of blessings and be in love with every moment. If you want to experience being present and how to suffer from your notions and expectations, try teaching anything (especially kindergarten) for a day. Every time I am stuck in the past or what I think “should” be happening I suffer, and my students also suffer as a byproduct of my power struggle. I see how being attached not only harms me but everyone around me.
I recently read The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra and love the techniques he offers in applying detachment to everyday life: “Today I will factor uncertainty as an essential ingredient of my experience. In my willingness to accept uncertainty, solutions will spontaneously emerge out of problems, out of confusion, disorder, and chaos. The more uncertain things seem to be, the more secure I will feel, because uncertainty is my path to freedom. Through the wisdom of uncertainty, I will find my security.”
For me, the gratitude is truly endless. I am in love with every moment and amazed at what keeps falling in my lap. May you also experience boundless acceptance and expansion in your days and nights this lunar cycle.