After the first year of a Master’s degree in Social Work, I was tired, lacked energy and knew I had to do something for my body. I also had a great interest in how I could integrate what I had been reading and learning about self-development into my own life and the lives of others to help create positive change in the world.
I decided I wanted to do yoga and after trying a class at the Dahn Yoga center in Burlington, Canada, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. Through the practice, I gained more energy, became stronger and more confident, and was able to manage my stress and emotions much better. I began to practice being a better person instead of just reading and thinking about it. My husband decided to try a class and became a member at the center soon after I did.
As I noticed the benefits of this approach in myself, I also thought about how it could benefit many others. As a former teacher, I had been interested in how students could better relate to themselves and others in order to gain confidence and experience success. As a Social Worker, I was counseling individuals, couples, and families and working with families of children with disabilities and mental health needs. I began to recognize the importance of the mind-body connection in people’s lives. I became a Dahn Yoga instructor, taught part-time at the center and lunchtime classes for the staff at my workplace, and was able to integrate some of the principles and practical tools into my work with clients to help them manage their stress and their lives.
As a Social Worker, I also began to realize the impact of brain functioning on people’s thinking and behavior. Coincidentally, at the Dahn center we were also talking about the brain and a system of training called Brain Education. In 2007, I became a full-time instructor at our center. That summer, I experienced the Brain Education Conference and Brain Olympiad in New York and had a glimpse of how the simple principles and practices I was learning and teaching at the Dahn Center about how to understand and make better use of our brains could be shared as an educational approach in schools and other organizations with people of all ages.
I felt the hope that Brain Education offered for individuals, professionals, families and communities. I became a Brain Education Leader and taught the Brain Education for Enhanced Learning program for children at two Dahn Yoga centers in the Greater Toronto Area. I was amazed at how the program brought out the “true nature” of each child. I didn’t really have to teach them anything—their self-confidence, their creativity, their concern for each other and for the Earth, and their ability to focus and to manage their bodies and emotions–it was all inside of them and waiting to be re-discovered. As a teacher, this is the kind of approach to education I had been waiting for. As an individual, this was the kind of positive change I wanted to see in myself and in the world.
It was because of this that I went on to work with the International Brain Education Association and am now at the University of Brain Education in South Korea doing a Ph.D. in Brain Education. After doing my Masters, I said I would never do a Ph.D. but here I am studying in a “foreign” country. I made this choice because I see Brain Education as an approach to promoting complete health and well-being for people of all ages around the world.
I believe that Dahn Yoga and Brain Education offer simple principles and practical tools that people of all ages can use to manage their body and brain health, to reconnect to themselves and to each other, and to work together for the betterment of humanity and the Earth. I believe this to such an extent that I, along with my husband, bought our center as a franchise. My husband, who is a Dahn Yoga and Dahn Mu Do instructor (similar to Tai-Chi) and a personal trainer, is currently managing the center. People come to the center for different reasons, experience different benefits, and are involved at different levels. It is intended as a place where people can achieve their goals related to physical and/or emotional health and well-being, where people can connect with themselves and others more deeply, and where people can discover the potential we all have inside.
Over the past 6 years, as a member and instructor, I have been supported by and have worked and sometimes lived with instructors who were originally from Korea. I appreciate their dedication and see them as fellow human beings who are also growing and learning and have chosen this work as their life path. I have learned a lot from them and continue to learn from those I work, live and study with. I have never been encouraged not to spend time or to cut ties with my family or friends. I have never been forced to spend money. I have taken many trainings and workshops through Dahn Yoga from which I benefited greatly.
Living and studying in South Korea has given me a unique perspective and made me realize how cultural differences may contribute to misunderstandings. These differences include: a long history of traditional approaches to individual and collective well-being and of “teachers” who share and guide others, respect for elders and for senior team members, a more indirect versus direct approach to communicating, the importance of the group versus the individual, a rigorous work ethic, and a very creative and eclectic approach to language and culture—a real fusion of the old and the new. These cultural differences due to history and location are inherent in the language and way of communicating and although they sometimes make it difficult for me to understand and to communicate well, they provide an opportunity for me to learn a lot about myself and my own culture.
I believe that this is one of the reasons Ilchi Lee developed programs such as Dahn Yoga and Brain Education—to help people to experience and relate to themselves and each other in a way that goes beyond physical and social-cultural differences, to help people to connect with their bodies, with their brains, with their “true nature”, and with the Earth.
I have met with Ilchi Lee in-person several times and experienced many of his lectures and trainings. I consider him to be a teacher, a guide, and I share in his vision for a better world and in his belief that as humans we have the potential to use our brains to fix the problems we have created. He is someone who shines a light on the true potential of everyone he meets and believes that we can create positive change using this potential together. He shares this belief as an educator, an author, a speaker, a businessman, and founder of many non-profit organizations which support the promotion of health, wellbeing, and peace in the world. He has done this day in and day out for the past 30 years despite many challenges and obstacles.
I have done 3000 bows on two occasions in preparation for different trainings. Prior to doing 3000 bows, I had done 1000 bows many times. The first time I did 3000 bows I was with one of my co-workers and we took lots of water- and bathroom breaks. The second time, my center manager suggested I split the bows over three days because things were so busy at the center. Both times, after completing the bows, I felt like I had gained a lot of confidence and that my body was lighter. Bowing is part of the culture here in South Korea and is done as part of special ceremonies or holidays or as training. I do 103 bows every day and find it is an excellent exercise for my joints and a kind of active meditation that helps me calm my mind and connect deeper with myself.
I’m glad that this situation has given Dahn Yoga a chance to explain some of the practices and terms, such as bowing, so that people can understand what they are and how and why they are done. I think this kind of information is helpful in addition to the kind of information you get from actually experiencing or doing something.
It’s true that a lot of research has yet to be done on Dahn Yoga, Brain Education and specific techniques such as Brain Wave Vibration, and maybe even bowing. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence worldwide and some research studies, mostly done in South Korea but some from the US and Japan, to support these approaches and to merit further study. I have a particular interest in building on the research that has already been done and doing more in order to help communicate the approach and its benefits and to guide program development.
I think Dahn Yoga and Brain Education as approaches that integrate knowledge about the brain and brain-related behaviors for the health, happiness and peace of humanity have the potential to be a bridge for traditional wisdom and modern science, for Eastern and Western philosophy, for alternative and mainstream approaches to health and well-being, for spirituality and science and for all of the different ways we tend to separate ourselves from each other. I believe that all human beings are seeking to contribute in a positive way and to help others do the same and that if we recognize what we have in common and use our differences in a positive way we can collectively recover the health, happiness, and peace of humanity and the Earth.
University of Brain Education