My New Chapter

Many things have happened since the last time I updated you on my life. Last thing you probably remember is me announcing that I am quitting my job, leaving, and traveling for a while. And then I went silent… The past few months (9 months to be exact) has been eventful and a lot happened – not just physically but also emotionally. I’m hoping to tell you all those things when I’m ready to put them into words. For now, I just wanted to tell you the state I’m currently in.

Through my travels, I had a lot of time and opportunity to think about myself, my situation and my future. I got the chance to realize and rediscover what it is that I want to do and what makes me truly happy. I weighted those thoughts with what I think is best for me and my plans changed… immensely.

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I am currently in Korea, a place I call one of my ‘homes’ but have a hard time connecting myself to. I was also here few months ago. There are a few reasons why I’m back here but one of my main reasons is that I decided to give Korea a chance and stay here for a while.

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Deciding to live in Korea:

As you may have read, I am Korean but I left Korea when I was 7 years old. Ever since then, I visited a few times but never really had the time to connect with this place – a place where I understand the language, love the food and look like everyone else but a place, where its many cultural aspects were puzzling and frustrating to me.

When I came to Korea couple of months ago, things started to change. I thought ‘maybe, I should give it a chance… If not now, when will I ever have the opportunity to come back and live here? If I really hate it, I can always leave.”

That was exactly what I thought and decided to do – but when I went to Cambodia, my thoughts started to change again.. ‘I’m not ready to settle, work and live the conventional life I left… I’d rather spend this time exploring and living in other places and doing projects that are worthwhile. I want a free life.’

But, I’m back. I’m in Korea. I have mixed feelings about it still but right now, I’m pretty certain about it. I’m going to give it a chance – be it a month, year, 2 years or more. After all, I am a Korean. If I don’t try living here now, I’ll never know. It’s unfair for me to not be here because of my prejudice and expectations.  And I seem to have found the right type of people who stop me from doing anything conventional. What will I be doing here? I’m going to be learning new things I’ve always wanted to learn, be it dance, sports, a language, etc. I’m going to try jobs that I’ve always wanted to try – be a bartender, barista, freelancer, teacher, yoga instructor etc. I’m not going to pressure myself to be a certain type of person.

I’m pretty confident. I’m pretty excited. I think it’s time for me to let go of all expectations and give this new chapter a try. 

The only way to see where you are or where you are going is by stopping.

Map and Compass

Couple of years ago, I was going through a very confusing transition. I was trying to figure out what it is that I really wanted to do in the midst of my thoughts on what I thought I should be doing with my life. Everyone goes through a confusing period like this in life and instead of focusing on solving the problem by thinking it through, I kept myself occupied with a very busy schedule trying as many different things as possible hoping that down the road, something will pop up. Instead of getting answers, I just got even more frustrated and was on the verge of crashing, losing all motivation.

And then time stopped and I was given a chance to think. I had gone on a ten-day trip to Laos thinking I’d get a mini holiday sightseeing and exploring the country but I was wrong. Arriving in Vientiane, I was shocked at how calm and quiet the city was compared to any other cities I have been in. It was almost if time had slowed down in Laos. Initially I hated how bored I was but things changed after a couple of days.

My ten days in Laos consisted of not only walking around, reading books, sightseeing and sitting at a cafe observing my surroundings but more importantly, learning to appreciate doing nothing and in return having the chance to focus on me and only me.

I was able to stop, let go of everything and turn full attention to myself (having barely any internet connection helped me disconnect with the outside world as well). I was learning to be more attentive about my needs and desires, and to reflect on my past, present and future. And everything changed since that moment. I started seeing things in a different perspective which consequently made me happier and more grateful towards life. When others ask me how Laos is, I say it’s beautiful but boring – and that’s why it’s one of my favorite destinations. Laos teaches you how to do nothing but the most important thing everyone needs to learn how to do – stop and reflect.

The only way to figure out where you are going is to stop and look at your surroundings. Sometimes you need to stop, take a break and just focus on nothing else but you.

6 things yoga has taught me about life

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As many of you know, practicing yoga is a big part of my life. It’s something I not only enjoy doing but also need in my life. Being on the road, yoga is not the easiest to practice. Sure, I can do yoga on my own and do some yoga moves (all I really need is an open space), but practicing yoga is beyond the physical movement. I’ve gained so much from yoga classes, beyond the physical and mental strength. The things that I’ve learned in yoga have made some things in life easier to understand. Being in one city for 2+ weeks now, I’ve had a chance to squeeze in a few classes and started thinking about how yoga classes have helped me change my attitude towards life. Here are top 6 things I’ve learned from my yoga practices so far:

1) If you let your ego get in the way and push yourself to impress others, you’ll just end up hurting yourself. If you are forcing your leg to stretch out further because you want to show off to the rest of the class how good you are, you are going to hurt yourself. If you are working hard and pushing yourself to show off to others and aren’t listening to your own needs, you’ll end up harming nobody else but you and your own happiness.

2) You cannot grow and be comfortable at the same time because growing requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Doing a yoga move, stretching out your hamstrings, holding your chaturanga; these are all really uncomfortable but you know it will make you stronger and more flexible. If you want to grow, you need to get out of your comfort zone. And if you keep pushing yourself a little by little, there’s nothing you can’t do.

3) Learn to appreciate the opportunity to do nothing. Sometimes, laying in shavasna can be uneasy and stressful. That’s because your mind is rushing and telling you all the things you have to do. It’s our fear of missing out, our constant need to achieve something. But, it’s ok to take a break once in a while and let yourself do nothing. And when you are given the opportunity to do nothing at all, take it and enjoy it. Everything will still be the same.

4) You might not be able to achieve it today, but you might tomorrow. It’s ok to not be able to do that hand stand today. It’s ok if crow pose isn’t working for you today. It’s ok if you didn’t get everything on your list done today. It’s ok… just try again tomorrow.

5) Each move has a purpose, don’t rush to get to the final pose. The reason I love vinyasa is because one move flows to the other and preps you to get to the final pose, just like how life comes in steps and you need to take it a step at a time. Enjoy the ride, don’t rush and you’ll perfect that final pose.

6) Don’t forget to breath. When you are doing a difficult move, you’ll realize you are holding your breath. I do that often until I remember to breathe. Not breathing is just making it harder for yourself. If you surrender to the pose and remember to do the most basic and fundamental thing, such as breathing, the pose becomes so much easier. When you are stressed, faced with challenges, and are frustrated, just breathe. It’s already happening, don’t make it harder on yourself.