Why am I writing? I want to share what it is like to live in New Jersey, work in Manhattan as a teacher and doing the practice of emptying myself through deep breathing. I started a unique way of breathing deeply, called Danjeon Breathing, in 2006. At that time I went with my family to South Korea. When we landed at Inchon airport I looked outside. Seoul looked so glamorous. Even though it was an adventure I had a deep thinking that said “where can I learn how to meditate?” We moved from our busy hotel in Coex Center to a four star hotel in Insadong. I liked the area very much. It had lots of small stores with arts, tea shops, restaurants and souvenir shops. I used to walk along the street of Insadong and smell the beautiful scent.
Two months later, I saw an advertisement for a meditation class. I registered immediately. A tall American guy came to my surprise and took us, a group of ten women from our hotel, to a small center in Insadong. It was an old Korean house with a garden in the middle. It was quiet and relaxing to be there. After the lesson ended they offered us tea with Korean rice cakes. The next day I decided to register for their health class and started practicing twice a week. One thing I noticed right away was that my migraines were reduced and only happened rarely from now on. After two months since we landed in Inchon air port I found what I was looking for.
Well, my story started in Manhattan, NY in 1996. I was a MA student in Hunter College and I also worked at a rental car company. One of my co-workers gave me a book about meditation through the Kabbalah. (The Kabbalah is known as the soul of the Jewish laws, also known as the Torah. It is also considered to be an ancient Jewish tradition which teaches the deepest insights into the essence of God.)
When I first saw the book I was interested and excited. My grandfather, who was a rabbi, used to learn the Kabbalah and just by looking at him I was impressed. He was a pure and humble person who lived a simple life always smiling. Can you imagine having a smile on your face every day of your life although life can be very bitter? I couldn’t tell if he was suffering or tired because he kept a steady and balanced state almost like the sky without rain, thunder, wind and storm. He had the most sky blue eyes as well.
One Saturday night, when we visited them after eating the Shabbat dinner, he looked deeply into my eyes I looked away for it felt as if he was reading me. His eyes were so powerful that I had to look down. This significant moment stayed with me long after he died and motivated me to know more about the Kabbalah. You can see why I was so excited to find that book. I rushed home and opened it at last. I manage to read lots of pages in a few hours; I am a fast reader when it comes to things that interest me. The main message, if I have to summarize it in one sentence, is focus on your breathing only, calm down and don’t think. So I did.
I focused on my breathing through the nose and calmed myself down trying not to think. Nothing happened. I decided to try again and really relax and let go of all my thoughts. Suddenly, I was moving, even though my body stayed on the bed. I was falling to somewhere and then I became a bird flying in the sky. I was terrified from that experience. Out of this shock I woke up. I tried to rewind in my mind what have just happened. But because I am such a curious person I had to try again and see to where it will take me. So I kept on calming my mind and focused on my breathing like the book said and then it happened.
My eternal body was lifted into a tunnel. My body was still on the bed but I was sucked into a tunnel like in the movie “Contact” with Judy Foster. It felt great. I was rising up and up. It was such a great and uplifting feeling that I wanted to keep feeling it, but suddenly instead of completing the tunnel and seeing what is on the other side I started descending back down into my body that was lying on bed. What a disappointment it was for me, not being able to see what is on the other side of the tunnel. It felt like I didn’t have energy to keep going. It felt like a car that runs out of gasoline. I was determined to find more, for I was extremely curious.
You can imagine how surprised I was when after doing danjeon breathing in Seoul, for health reasons of course, one day I was sucked again into a tunnel. It was the same tunnel as I remembered and experienced in 1996, 11 years later I entered that tunnel again, but this time I passed through it all. It was so fast like I was driving a race car. It felt like a ride in Six flags. This time due to danjeon being full of energy I was good to go through that tunnel. Since I realized that danjeon breathing is the key to a world I would like to explore, I dedicated myself to make it my own.
What kind of practice do I do? Letting agonies go by the power of danjeon breathing.