The following piece of writing was a very open, honest and raw account of my experience living in South Korea that I sent to my family and friends back in March. At the time, I could not post this on my blog, but now that I am nearing the end of my time here I feel compelled to share.
Truthfully, I find it much easier to write about the light than to write about the darkness I've experienced. Therefore, I am stretching myself in sharing this...
Dear family and friends,
It's been 7 months that I've been living in Korea. I can't believe it. Only 5 more months to go...and only 3 more months until I finish my master’s degree.
I have not written about my experience in Korea since I have been here. Perhaps because I've been busy writing so much for my courses, yet I wanted to take a minute today to write about my experience.
Honestly, it's been hard. Difficult, and even painful at times. I wish I could be writing that I have been having the time of my life, and experiencing so much magic and beauty like I had experienced before living in Germany and Japan; but that's not been the case. I have faced many challenges living here.
Sometimes while I am at the school, I look outside the window and I can clearly see that my external reality does not match my internal being. I feel within myself so much brightness, colors, life, joy, passion and love bursting from within my being, yet my current external reality is dim, bleak and colorless.
One of the main challenges I've had these past 7 months is keeping my soul alive on fire when surrounded by so many spirits that have been broken by a system. To keep your soul, heart and spirit alive in an environment that crushes it...is one of the hardest challenges I've ever had to face. To shine brightly in darkness. Just today I witnessed a teacher slapping a boy in the face. It shocked me, and I left the room. I cannot tolerate seeing physical violence. Another teacher told me that I would eventually get used to it, but I will never allow myself to become desensitized to violence even if it is considered normal in some people’s perception. The same teacher told me that I am too pure, sensitive and I show my emotions too much. I wondered when in her life she had lost her sensitivity, had closed her heart and became disconnected from her feelings. When your heart is open, and you feel so much love radiating and flowing out of your center it is nearly impossible I believe to physically inflict pain on someone intentionally.
Challenges I've Encountered:
1.) Corporeal punishment in school...hitting children with bamboo sticks. Using fear and intimidation to keep students passive. Breaking the human spirit. Forcing compliance. Witnessing violence, and experiencing the pain being inflicted on these young people just by watching this happen, and not being able to do that much about it. What am I meant to learn from this experience? Standing in my truth, and being unyielding in my embodiment of peace, love, gentleness and nonviolence. I’ve also reminded myself that everyone is always doing the best they can with what they know (including myself).
2.) Solitude. Isolation. Disconnection.
3.) There is something about Korean society that I find disturbing. And I'm not surprised that Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, along with the amount of plastic surgery operations. The main reason for people killing themselves is "psychological despair".
4.) Superficiality. Lacking heartfulness. So much disconnection from the heart + soul. Separation.
5.) Teaching classes to students that are "dead". Like zombies, they do not smile, they do not talk, they have no light in their eyes and are completely exhausted. There is no life present in their eyes, and when I ask them if they are happy, they respond, "No". They are exhausted from studying ALL day until 11pm or later. Everyday, and no time for extracurricular activities and playing. How can anyone live like this? Their life does not consist of any play, fun, sports or social time. I see the way this education system is breaking them and molding them to fit the system.
What's Sustained Me the Past 7 Months:
1.) My studies in Transpersonal Psychology.
2.) Putting all my energy, time and focus into my creative project of birthing, designing and creating my official website.
3.) Zen temple visits every month. Peace, stillness, connection & beauty.
4.) Going to an Oriental Medicine clinic every week and receiving acupuncture, moxibustion, and MET. Learning about Korean medicine and ways to heal the body.
5.) Skyping with family + friends + my Mastermind.
6.) Knowing that I am accomplishing 3 things with being here in Korea: Finishing my studies, creating a life coaching business and teaching while making a difference in these students lives by showing them a different way of being + living.
7.) Being coached and receiving 18 hours of coaching in order to meet my coaching requirements to become a certified life coach. In addition, I had 3 sessions with a Mentor Coach in Tofino, Canada who has her Ph.D in Psychology and coached me on my coaching in working with clients.
I think one of the main realizations I've had from this experience is how much my own consciousness has transformed the past 2 years from doing this program; transformative education, in addition to my experience in India and all my travels the past 5 years. I can see a difference in consciousness on the planet now more clearly than before. How would I be able to see how much I've changed and transformed if I was not living in an environment that was the polar opposite of what I am? Through my current environment I can see how much I've grown and expanded through the contrast.
I think that what we each are in essence is the most transformative catalyst for transformation. It's what we choose to be and how we choose to act. It's our energy, and what we are that affects other people and the world at large.
The questions I have to ask myself in this experience in Korea is:
-Will I allow this experience to open me or close me?
-Can I keep my heart fully open wide when witnessing violence?
-How can I stretch my capacity for compassion?
-What is my purpose in witnessing violence in my environment? What is the gift and lesson?
I see so many unhappy people at the school I teach at every day. Many times I don't think that people realize that they are actually unhappy because this way of experiencing life has become their set-point as their normal way of being in life. There is so much "unhappiness" permeating the planet. So much violence in the human mind. So many people who do not experience joy and do not feel good. I ask myself, why am I happy? I'm happy because I am alive. I have a life. I have the gift of existence. For me, just to be alive is more than a reason to feel happy. Everything is so impermanent, and this life will not last forever, even when our being is eternal. Therefore, I am grateful to be alive while I am alive, and even when I've felt fed up with my experience in Korea at times, I know that there is gold to be transmuted from this experience. Everything has always happened perfectly in my life, and I know this experience is no exception. There is learning and wisdom to be gained...the greater the pressure, the brighter the diamond. And as my Parisian friend told me, like an ocean with waves...the stronger the wave retracts, the more powerfully it is compelled forward.
With regards to expanding my awareness of the human condition, I believe that there is no greater shift that needs to happen on our planet than the awakening of the heart. It is only through the heart that we feel joy, love, compassion, appreciation, passion, oneness and connection to others and the Earth. The intellectual mind is limited in its capacities, yet I feel that the heart is unlimited in its capacities. The intellectual mind serves its purpose, yet the problem I feel is that too many people are living only from their minds and their heart center has not yet fully flowered.
The flowering of the heart, is the flowering of the next stage of human consciousness I intuit, in order for a major shift to occur on this planet.
"In order to converse with the wild feminine, a woman must temporarily leave the world and inhabit a state of aloneness in the oldest sense of the word. Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one, meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one." -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
If there is one word to capture my year in Korea it is precisely this: Solitude. Being completely alone has been a process of transformation in being --ALL ONE-- within myself. Strong in my truth. Clear in my vision. Wholesome and rooted firmly within myself like never before.
"Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own." -Oprah
Next week my friend Jackie from Malaysia (who I met in India last year and was my roommate at Oneness University) will come to Korea to visit me. She's bringing her friend. Do you know the Malaysian airline flight MH370 that disappeared in the sky from Malaysia to China recently that has been all over the news? The girl who is coming with Jackie to Korea was supposed to be on that flight. At the last minute, Jackie asked her if she wanted to visit her friend Nicole living in South Korea, since perhaps I could help her with some things in her life...with my background in psychology and life coaching. The girl cancelled her seat on that flight to China, and is now alive because of choosing to come to Korea with Jackie to visit me. Amazing. Yet, this girl’s best friend and husband was on that flight to China.We are all connected in ways we cannot see and always comprehend...
...The picture below is me rooting myself deeply within myself like a tree...while growing and stretching through adversity, challenges and life experiences...the light is indestructible...and everything always makes us more...everything we experience serves us in some way...and life is always giving us the experiences we need to facilitate our highest growth and evolution into our fullest capacity...