Stories from Dahn Yoga Staff (Page 3)
21. David Driscoll
I found the Dahn Center through a job-listing for part time work. I had practiced Hatha yoga for a few months in college and really enjoyed the stretching, breathing and relaxation. I went to college at Princeton University in New Jersey, majored in anthropology and studied visual arts and biology.
My interest had always been in nature and ecology, and over time I became fascinated (sometimes frustratingly so) on the interaction between humans and the rest of our planet. I considered a career in ecology and conservation, non-profit or service work, education, civil engineering, evolutionary biology, etc…
I’ve always been physically active, from gymnastics to soccer, baseball, and ultimately running and breakdancing. I appreciated the physical benefits from the Dahn Yoga classes but I was more excited by the mental practice. I enjoyed becoming calmer and more aware of what was happening in my body and mind. It was a great combination of my passions for physical activity and intellectual study.
I decided to become a master and devote my life to sharing this practice.
Actually in the past I had been more of a solitary person. Taking care of a business, teaching classes every day, these are not things I would otherwise have choosen.
I think there are many great teachers and philosophies in the world. But I do not see any teacher who has created an organization, a set of programs, and a bridge between the modern world and ancient wisdom, as much as Ilchi Lee has done through Brain Education and Dahn Yoga.
I do not claim to know the ‘only path’ to enlightenment. I am imperfect, I can’t understand everything. But from the deepest part of myself I know that Dahn Yoga is a unique tool in humanity’s struggle to overcome competition and greed, and create a healthier planet.
And it hurts really, really deeply that people try to cut this organization down with distortions of the truth. It scares me so much that we could lose this great chance to knee-jerk reactions of fear and ignorance.
Dealing with these obstacles has made me grow into a stronger and more patient person. With every passing day I am more grateful for this practice and the leaders who have kept it alive all these years. Believe me, it would be easier for them to just move on and stop taking so much abuse. Nobody is cheating anybody here. These are some of the most dedicated, hard-working people I have ever met, and the way critics attack them is sickening. If you have any sense of justice, if you’ve ever thought about what it takes to achieve real change in this world, eventually you must feel this is true.
22. Erin Carter
I would like to share my personal story as to why I have chosen and continue to choose to be a Dahn Yoga Instructor. I grew up in Boston, and attended Brookline High School. I wanted to learn more about my country and myself before I committed to college, so I took a year off after graduating high school. I spent the year traveling the United States – seeing the world beyond Boston, Massachusetts, and realizing that I have a lot more choices for how I can create my life than I had ever imagined before. I found an outdoor based Environmental Education College in Arizona that I fell in love with and enrolled for the following year. Observing the inequality and violence in the world, as well as the degradation of the Earth, I determined that within my lifetime I would find a way of living that was sustainable and harmonious with the Earth and Humanity. In this search, I concluded that the only way to create meaningful change is from within the individual. I concluded that the only truly effective way to improve the conditions on the Earth was through individuals raising their consciousness level. It is far from a quick fix, but I don’t think there are any.
I didn’t ever consider myself a stressed out person, however, I developed stomach problems from stress when I was nineteen. From the age of nineteen to twenty four I think I tried every kind of yoga and meditation that there is. I found benefit in many, but I always got to a point where I felt like something was missing. I had a hard time truly applying my experience to my everyday life. When I was twenty four I moved back to Boston and joined a Dahn Center in my neighborhood. My Dahn training provided me with the most helpful tools I have ever encountered. Through the exercise I was able to heal my stomach problems. The workshops gave me training about how I could apply what I was experiencing in class to my everyday life. I started to be able to handle situations that had formerly been incredibly stressful and overwhelming. I started to be able to better regulate my overall wellbeing; freeing me up to do things I had always wanted to do, and improve my relationships. I started to make more positive choices, and I started to find that I had the power inside of myself to act on those choices. I felt like I was getting myself back. I have never encountered anything more meaningful than that. I started to feel like I could see beyond myself to the needs of others. Through my own inner experience, I knew that I had found what I was looking for.
In this chaotic world, here is a very accessible set of principles and practices that allow you to develop your own inner calm and even ground. I have been teaching for nearly five years now. I cannot express in words the gratitude that I feel for what I have found, and what I have shared with so many others, through this practice. No matter what is going on around me, I feel an unchanging surety in my self; that I can live and create from the deepest feeling in my heart. I have Hope from the bottom to the top of me. The depth of what that means to me is indescribable.
23. Kevin Twomey
My name is Kevin Twomey, I was born and raised in Hawaii. I have held a strong interest in Healing Arts since I was a little kid. I was given guidance by my stepmother since I was 4 years old into many modalities and approaches to the Healing Process both for myself and others. I went to school in Hawaii, and after completing school I held a job in construction in Hawaii. I loved the pride of seeing hard work completed at the end of the day. (I was in was flooring field.) It was challenging work and it was too much for my body so I joined a local yoga center to heal my knees, lower back and stomach. I had heard about this particular studio from my family. First my grandfather found out about it through a free community service lecture for seniors. He was quite impressed so he passed the information to my mother, who later passed it on to me.
What I have found through first being a practitioner and then as an instructor at a Dahn Center is a stability and confidence about my place in life. It started with clear improvements in my body after only practicing for 2 weeks, I remember being really impressed and surprised it actually worked that quickly. Then after some deeper searching within myself through education and workshops I truly felt an improvement in my relationships, especially with family. Notably my relationship with my mother improved drastically. I remember we got in a simple fight on the phone once and moments later I called her back to say I was sorry and this is not what I want. Needless to say, she was shocked. I was also surprised at how easy it was to take up courage for my life and not just wade around knee deep in emotions every day. After improving my health and my relationships, I was ready for more, especially in the shape of being able to help others find this seaming naturalness to life. At that time, I became a full time Dahn Instructor and made this my career of choice which I have upheld for the past 6 years.
Of course there were ups and downs, but they were no more or less then the obstacles of each age and time in my life faced previously. The difference was that I was now in a profession that required my mental, emotional and physical well-being to be at its optimal condition consistently. By keeping this standard, I formed many new habits that were not only beneficial for myself, but really allowed me to be a person that could benefit others.
24. Michela Mangiaracina
When I look back at my adult life, I have always been involved in health and the brain in some way. As an undergraduate at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, I was a biology major whose concentration was Neurobiology & Behavior. My first job after college was for a psychiatric partial hospital. After that I worked at the Bourne Laboratory at Weill Medical College of Cornell University for four years, where we studied the neurophysiology of feeding behavior in rats. Then I spent two years at Emerson College in their Health Communications masters program, which was a joint program with Tufts Medical School.
It was while I was in graduate school in Boston that I first discovered the Dahn Yoga Centers from a flier posted at the student union. They were looking for part-time help and I saw working there as a way to earn extra money during my unpaid summer internships at Radio Disney and WGBH. I also thought I could learn something through the free month of classes that came with the position.
Well I did learn something. Actually, I learned a lot. While I already knew a bit about the brain from an intellectual or physical standpoint, through the Dahn Yoga Centers I learned practical ways to use my brain to empower my choices in life. I also learned how to use my body to make both it and my brain healthier on every level. The techniques were so simple and easy, I was excited about their general applicability.
So I kept increasing the number of hours I worked until I was working full time. I worked for Dahn Yoga for two and a half years, and for the past year and nine months I’ve worked for the publishing company that makes books for the centers and beyond, BEST Life Media (www.bestlifemedia.com).
In going to graduate school, I had wanted to help empower people to make healthy choices for their life by making sure they had access to accurate and helpful health information. I wanted to combat the unhealthy messages in the world. And I wanted to work for an international organization such as the World Health Organization when I graduated. I feel like I have been doing just that. Through teaching classes and writing online articles and blogs, I am able to share tools for taking care of your mind, body, and spirit that are very accessible for people of most health conditions. And I can show people how everything in their life can be their choice. But more than providing information, the Dahn Yoga Centers give their members support, encouragement, and a guiding example, without which it is difficult to make real change in one’s life. I am proud to work for and with an organization that actively succeeds in making people’s lives better at a deep level.
25. JiLong Han
My name is JiLong Han. Before Dahn Yoga, I was doing many activities to keep myself healthy. At that time I sat a lot due to the fact that I was a graduate student at University of Illinois at Chicago. I spent most of my time studying. Unfortunately I developed a lot of pain in my body, especially lower back pain that kept me in agony all night long.
I heard Yoga and TaiChi might help, so I went to a workshop that local Dahn Yoga center hosted in my school gym. After only one hour of exercise, I already felt a lot better. Then I became a member at the nearest Dahn Center for 3 month first. My health improved greatly, and most important thing is I understood myself more and more through Dahn’s mind and Body training. I gained a lot of confidence through this training; even my advisor noticed change in me.
I benefited a lot through Dahn Yoga practice. One important reason why I choose Dahn Yoga as my career is its HongIk philosophy, which means ‘widely benefit humanity and create a harmonious world’. This clearly is what I want for my life.
I am very happy about my choice. Everyday I spend time with members and share love and happiness with everyone. I could not ask for a better career.
26. John Thompson
Before retiring from the music profession and beginning full-time work for Dahn Yoga in 2007, I was a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra double bass section for 15 years. Prior to joining New Jersey Symphony 1992, I worked as a substitute bassist for the Columbus (OH) Symphony, was member of Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and Principle Bassist with the Lexington (KY) Philharmonic. My first symphony engagement was with the Memphis Symphony from 1982-1986. I received a Bachelors in Double Bass Performance from Memphis State University in 1986 and Masters of Music in Double Bass from the Cincinnati University College-Conservatory of Music in 1989. I participated in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute the summers of 1987-1990, performing at the Hollywood Bowl. And I attended the Aspen Music Festival in 1991, where I studied with Eugene Levinson, Principle Bassist with the New York Philharmonic.
In addition to my performing career, I was a very active teacher. I was a music faculty member at William Paterson University from 2000-2008 as double bass and chamber music instructor. I was a bass and cello coach for the Greater Newark Youth Orchestra for ten years, where I took an active role in mentoring young musicians from Newark. In 2006 I created a music program for the Wilbert F. Mays Seventh Day Adventist School, where I taught violin and cello grades 2nd-6th, as well conducted the string ensemble. I also maintained an active private bass studio. Among my private students was Kermit Driscoll, bassist for the Bill Frisell Trio and dahn member at the Ridgefield dahn center.
Being fascinated by the nature of sound, I learned the craft of audio recording/production and began collaborations with musicians in Tennessee, North Carolina and New Jersey. My plan in 2006 was to move to North Carolina to be with one of my collaborators and work as an organic farmer. These plans faded after I went to Dahn Mu Do (DMD) school in 2006 and I began working at the Wyckoff dahn center as an instructor.
I had a successful and satisfying professional life, but inside I was not happy and physically I was pretty sick for a number of years. In 2004 I became a dahn member after attending class with my bass student, Kermit Driscoll. I loved the class very much, but no one asked me to become a member. I just came back the following day on my own and joined the center. The Self Discovery workshop was a huge awakening for me and DMD school blew the rooftop off of everything. DMD school touched something deeply inside of me: I could feel that my life was going towards a deeply spiritual path and the dahn practice was a clear way for me to fulfill this calling. After one year of consideration, I decided in 2007 that I would retire from the music profession and become a full-time center manager. Working as a center manager, I am now realizing my true happiness. Physically, I am in the best condition in my whole life and I live each day, each moment with a clear sense of purpose. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to Ilchi Lee for creating this practice. And I wish to thank all the members from through the years and other center managers for making this a beautiful journey which we can share together.
27. Mary McKinley
I grew up in Las Cruces, NM. I went to NMSU and received a degree in Accounting with a minor in finance. Arthur Andersen was recruiting on campus, so I interviewed and received an offer even before I graduated. I was very lucky and grateful. I started my first job in my city of choice, Phoenix, AZ. I had a great career at Arthur and was able to staff many amazing and up and coming projects in the internet field. When Arthur was indicted by the SEC for fraud, I started looking for my next step. Because of the amazing Arthur network, it was no problem finding another job despite their diminishing reputation.
The stress of almost being laid off and seeing my future change dramatically before me took a toll on my physical health. The new opportunity was great, but it was a smaller family owned company that was starting to become bigger then they imagined. So the stress was even greater. I looked to yoga to find relief. I really liked the Dahn Yoga classes. I started to feel so much better. But when I would lose the habit of coming to the class, the center manage always gave me a call to remind me of my commitment to myself. At the time I thought it was a little strange, the gym I went to never did that. But now I am so grateful.
After 1 year of training, I decided to become an instructor. I learned a lot about myself through the process. I naturally asked myself if I was good enough to be guiding people towards health and happiness, but as I started to become happier and healthier, I felt confident that I could be a great trainer someday. I love this company. I love the members and the people I work with. Relationships with my co-workers aren’t always perfect, but we work through it because we have a common mission and purpose. I really respect that.
28. Stephanie Jasieniecki
Upon entering college at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, I was a good student with an above average GPA and a successful athlete. College became much more than academic studies for me. I began really wondering about what I would do with my life. After many mistakes and many majors, I studied fine arts. I found a full-time position as a photographer’s assistant, even before I had finished college. I learned the ins and outs of the business, for which my employer was paid up to $6,000 per job. After a year of studying with her, I began putting out my own contracts too, and I was well on my way to a very successful career and easy life, as far as finances are concerned. However, this made me question the meaning of my life further. I felt that this couldn’t be all – a good job, a good boyfriend, etc. About this time was when I met Dahn Yoga.
After about a month of Dahn Yoga practice, I attended a three day workshop in Arizona called YEHA, which is an acronym for Young Earth Human Alliance. It is a group of young people across the globe who desire a better self and a better world. Through this training I recovered my heart. Relationships that I had struggled with finally started to smooth out, I felt happier and more fulfilled.
Later when I learned I could become a Dahn Yoga instructor, I knew that it would be the most satisfying job for me and something I could keep doing for a lifetime. It has been over five years since I started as an instructor. The thing that moved me the most to become an instructor is the goal of Dahn Yoga, which is to create a better world through the betterment of human beings. To me this career is a life-time promise to myself that I will continue to improve myself for the betterment of the world. I continue to chose this work because of the environment created for me as an instructor. Everyone in this organization always tries their best to be kind and loving, and to create the ideal kind of world that we all want to create on this Earth, while encouraging each other to overcome our limitations. My goal is to open and manage my own Dahn Yoga center abroad. I am making preparations for that now. I still have a long way to go in the study of my life, but I am such a happy and grateful person now.
Since becoming a Dahn Master I have been able to combine my 2 passions: exercise and helping people. As I grow and change, so do my members. It is so rewarding to see people regain their hope, health and happiness.
For 10 years I sold cars. It was very stressful and unfullfilling. My health was a mess too, I had breast cancer, twice.
Finally, I woke up and decided to a more proactive approach to my health. Thankfully, I found Dahn Yoga. I discovered a lot about myself and what I need to do to stay healthy. For the rest of my life I will share my experience with others, so that they can manage their health and well-being better too!
It’s a win/win situation and it makes me very happy.
30. Nicholas Fiorito
My name is Nicholas Fiorito, and I am 27 years of age. What I gleaned from Dahn Yoga training, and what I continue to get as an instructor, can be described as the continued fulfillment of my life’s greatest joy and happiness.
After breaking up with a woman I was completely and totally in love with in high school I fell into a deep depression and continually wondered, “if something so beautiful and amazing can be so easily lost, what is the purpose of life?” I did well in school, exceeded at almost every task and duty presented to me, but was deeply dissatisfied. This existential angst continued into my college years until I took a course on Zen Buddhism. I was intrigued by the study of religion — what better way to understand life than study what people throughout time and across the globe have thought of the basic questions of human existence — “where do we come from? what is the purpose of human life? what happens after we die?”
I was accepted to Harvard Divinity School and continued my academic study there as a Masters student. I was most intrigued by mystics of various traditions — men and women who had some kind of direct, transformative experience with God or the Divine. It was something I desperately wanted to experience as well, so I meditated with frequency and tried to live the most spiritually beneficial and altruistic life I could. Yet I felt something was desperately missing from my education. Although I knew a lot about spirituality and personal development, my academic education left me without the means to catalyze spiritual changes in myself and others.
Concurrent with my matriculation to Harvard, I began studying Dahn Yoga, and it was through this study that I came to a deep, experiential understanding of who I was, what I wanted in this life, and came in contact with the holy and divine aspect of myself, which I believe is a part of every human being. It is my privilege to continue to practice compassion, care, and unconditional love as a Dahn Yoga instructor, because now I get to help others find what they most want in this lifetime, and I am blessed to help them create that as a reality in their life. In all my searching for personal illumination, I have never found a more beautiful and perfect system in which teacher and student both continue to grow and develop in mutually beneficial ways.
31. Nate Guadagni
I am so happy that I am a Dahn Instructor and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work, doing what I love the most. I am constantly inspired by my students and by my teachers, and to work in this company is really a dream come true.
Since I was young, I had always been interested in the healing arts and before I started Dahn Yoga, I was a student of many disciplines. I was taking courses in yoga, meditation, Reiki, massage therapy, Tae Kwon Do, as well as doing my own home practice. One of the most important days in my life was the day that I first walked into the Dahn Center, because I realized that there was something which has all of the things that I wanted to do in one place. I could train myself, and teach others, I could satisfy my body, mind and spirit, and I could participate in the great mission of Love for Humanity, Love for the Earth.
I still remember the first day after my Instructor training as I began to work in my Center in Beaverton, Oregon. I was with a student teaching them intestine exercises, and the most profound feeling of gratitude washed over my body. This wonderful feeling lasted for over three days, because I realized that I had found everything that I had been looking for. I had found a way to help others, help myself, and make a big difference in society and my community through becoming a Dahn Yoga instructor.
Since that day, almost three years ago, my life and my job have only become more rewarding and more satisfying. I feel that there is nothing that I could be doing which would add more value to my life or the lives of those that I teach. I am so grateful to Dahn Yoga for this incredible training and this tremendous opportunity to make a real difference in this world.