Back when I was 15 and 16, I had a deep love for Yoga. I have always been ridiculously spiritual but yoga brought to me an ability to express my emotions through a physical extension I had yet experienced in my young age.
Yes, I like to dance (something I love even more now), but my unhealthy teen body was awkward in all of it’s untrained movement and my self-esteem was way too low for me to stand watching myself attempt it for any long period of time.
I cannot remember exactly when I was first introduced to yoga. I had known of it for a long while, I guess, and it is quite possible that I read of it in the 4th Grade. During this time I would often hide in the library during breaks and lunch, burying myself in the most obscure works of non-fiction (from Classic Chinese Poetry to Nail Care, I would read it all). But I do remember my first interaction with the actual want to better understand the way I moved at the age of 12. During the summer, my Aunt was kind enough to drop me off at the library occasionally, where I would grab hold on to books of Flower Language, Hypnotism, Stephen King’s ‘It’, Chakras, and most particularly a book on Stretching. That gave me my first insight to the need to care for my body on a deeper level. This then led me to reading up on yoga along with all of it’s principles and foundings.
Between 15 and 16, yoga brought me moments of peace that I was often unable to find when my emotions were constantly screaming in pain and the anger at the hand life was dealing would wash over me. I got in to buying Yoga Journal Magazine and reading through it’s articles with such intensity. It brought an awareness to both sides of what the yoga community was. Yes, for some it was just a physical practice, but for many others it was a spiritual one. For myself, it was most definitely the latter.
When I look back, I was definitely not the greatest at it. It was ridiculously difficult for me to lay my hands flat on the floor in a forward bend or to keep my balance in Tree Pose. Hahahaha but, man, I sure tried. What I loved the most out of being involved with yoga was the way it made my mind think. I would do my best to attempt the sequences in the monthly magazine but most of my involvement is the way the instructor wanted the sequence to effect you. Whether it was to bring relaxation, fluidity, or to help you rise with the sun, I loved dropping my consciousness into the hands of deeper thought. I have always been a deep thinker and would often try to find a deeper understanding of most things in life but at the time I had reality and stress constantly pulling at my attention from all directions. Before bed on school nights, I would turn the light off in my room and practice with only the light from my tiny TV that was playing this calming ‘Chinese Garden’ instrumental CD (that I seriously bought at the Dollar Store) that was mixed with the sounds of my old PS 1 that was trying ridiculously hard to work.
I may not have had the stresses of adulthood to think about ,but when you are young, your mind is growing at an almost alarming rate that creates constant confusion within yourself. Yesterday you felt one way about the world, but with constant new experiences of just 24 hours, Today you feel differently. It can be upsetting. You feel as though your own body and mind is foreign and without the proper vocabulary to express those feelings that only time can provide, they get locked up and fester.
With Yoga, I was given a chance to connect with my inner self in a way that did not require the verbal expression I was not quite given yet. By reading the Yoga Journal Magazines, I often had the chance to GAIN the verbal expression I needed. I may not have been a part of any community physically, but mentally I was there.
I was devoted to reading this magazine many years after and I believe sometime around 18 years old there was this article about what the Yogi Way of Life meant to this author. It was quite lovely and very well written but there was this particular bit where she started talking about how yoga made her understand the need to find her own corner of the world that she could improve for others and herself. Rather than stressing about all of the things one measly person can’t do in a life time, she was more focused on being a help to an area of life that she knew she had the ability to improve. She went on to talk about how if everyone focused on their own corner of the world, it would have the greatest, most positive, collective impact on lives of people everywhere. Whether it be a long time devotion to a charity, a community, a hobby, your family, nature conservation, animal welfare, it would all make a difference.
I was hit by the truth in her statement. What was MY corner of the world? What could I do that would be beneficial to those who are around me or cross my path? I have always had many aspirations and interests on how to improve MY life and the life of those I consider my family. I always knew that my successes would be their successes as well. But even then I knew that I would meet many people in my life time and considered what affect I would have on them, especially because a lot of my interests lay in businesses I would like to create one day. I would have employees, co-workers, business relationships and more. Like many business owners, would I only harm them with my scrutinizing, unscrupulous tactics just for success? I hated that very idea. I knew it would take time for me to discover what my corner was.
But as years passed by, I watched as the people I loved would struggle financially and have little chance at finding jobs, respect, and happiness. There were no opportunities where I came from. The economy was bad and my community was not properly educated or equipped with the skills and resources to be successful. I have always wanted to live in South Korea and was determined to make it happen, so when I was 20 I traveled to Seoul for the first time and fell in love. I thought over and over how I could get a job there. In time I learned how hard it was for the younger generation to get any jobs at all and that the poverty rate was rising. I wondered how I could allow myself as a foreigner to take their precious jobs away from them? I visited for a second time at 22 and met many knew friends. A very common topic that arose was what we wanted to do with our lives. I realized throughout that, that above just having career goals, I wanted to get my loved ones out of the vicious cycle of poverty they were in. I wanted to give them opportunities. Give them chances. And in this last year I realized that is exactly what I want to do for people in my life. I want to create work, I want to create prosperity, I want to create happiness but most importantly I want to create OPPORTUNITIES that no one else will provide for those who try so hard to get a leg up on life. I want to live and work in korea, but not at the expense of those who were there before me. I want to make sure that if I take one job, I create 100 more jobs for those around me.
But I know that my Corner of the World is still currently very small, so I will have to start at my feet. I always listen to the passions my loved ones have and their ideas for jobs, businesses and the careers that they have practically given up on. If I can start by helping pay my sisters gas when she is struggling to catch up on bill’s, if I can buy her a gallon of milk when she cannot afford it, then eventually I can help pay for her cell phone or for her electricity or be there for her when her car breaks down. All of these little things, these little goals will drive me to then be able to work hard to help her finish her schooling so that she can stop working at a simple hourly job and then do something rewarding that she also loves that pays the bills easily and inspires her children to dream big and grow in life and to accomplish what may seem impossible. All of these little things mean something to someone. And eventually I wish to create some huge things that make a difference to many.
This is my Corner of the World: To create opportunity.
I hope you can find yours.