by Terri Kang (Sun Gwang)
I have been asking myself why there have been so many people in teaching occupations in my family. Grandpa, father, brother, uncles, cousins – have all been teachers. Yet, I was never attracted to teaching as an occupation, because it seemed so uninteresting to me.
However, after practicing yoga and meditation for a long time, I ended up teaching. I started out teaching about the functions and processes of the brain. Teaching wasn’t so difficult, but I was always questioning whether I was sufficiently qualified and if I was better at being a good guide and a mentor, rather than “teaching” as an occupation.
The more I was teaching, the more I had to question whether I had the qualifications to be a mentor. What are the qualifications? Is discipline most important, listening skill most important, or goal oriented mind so important?.
My mind was becoming confused and I was losing confidence. I finally ended up going to the Bell Rock (Red Rock Mountain) in Sedona to seek some answers. At the Bell Rock, I was able to recall my teachers, those who had influenced me in positive ways and whom I had forgotten for a while.
Passion with Unconditional care
The first teacher I remembered was Mr. Jae Ki Jeong. He was my 4th grade teacher and was a bachelor. At the elementary school, my brain was not balanced enough. All I enjoyed was writing poems and painting. Other than this, I wasn’t interested in any subject. I didn’t even know what homework meant and after school I never opened up my backpack and I only played with my playmates outside home until my mom looked for me.
During class, I looked at my teacher because I didn’t want to get punished, but I never paid attention and I didn’t understand the lessons very much. One day, Mr. Jeong asked me to stay after school. He told me to study my lessons with him. He kept me after school every day, and he really made me study the very basics. Every single day, he watched me and made sure that I finished whatever task he gave to me.
After this experience, my brain opened up and awakened. I discovered what it meant to study, and study became a very easy and fun thing to do. I jumped from being a D student to being an A student, and I became very confident. I realize now that he was very passionate, sincere, and he cared for me unconditionally.
The Power of a Smile
The second teacher I remember from Bell Rock was Mrs. Ritter. She was my high school ESL teacher. I still remember her beautiful smile. She always had a smile on her face, even we were loud and misbehaving.
I always felt she was on my side and that she would accept me, even when I made mistakes. English was my second language and I always had a lack of confidence speaking English. Only in front of her, was I able to speak English without hesitation and I didn’t mind making mistakes.
Gaining confidence is the first step to learning any language but not many teachers are able to encourage students to that point. Through Mrs. Ritter’s smile, students were able to gain lots of confidence.
Now as an adult, I understand that it is not easy to smile all the time. A smile on one’s face is the reflection of one’s inner self. If our inner self is filled with anxiety, fear, rage, sadness…we cannot smile. Her ability to smile meant she was not overtaken by emotions. She was very clear about her mission as a teacher and she really enjoyed teaching.
The third teacher I remembered from Bell Rock was Professor Michael Folonis. He was a professor in the Architecture department. This was my major in my sophomore year. Since I didn’t have a good concept of space, making models was always difficult for me. I also had a phobia about making presentations and I found myself always talking to the wall when speaking in public.
Michael Folonis was the most picky, difficult and arrogant professor. He made me very nervous. We were all very tense during presentations because he would tear off anything from our models that didn’t have any meaning. He didn’t like anything unnecessary.
One day it was my turn for the presentation. I put the board on the wall and started stammering. He was sitting in front of me glaring and ready to start criticizing. When my heart almost stopped beating with fear, I heard him saying, “Excellent Graphic!”
I heard what I always wanted to hear! Why? Because in an effort to simplify the complication into one simple logo type design, I had found myself very attracted to graphic design. Right after that semester, I transferred to the Graphic Design Department and I became an honors student. I trusted him because he was non judgmental but a transparent, and an observer. A long time has been passed but I still admire him.
Enlightenment embracing everything
When people make judgments about our looks and outer layers, sometimes we feel very lonely. When someone feels our heart, even though it is just one person, we have some hope. Of course, we all have the power to be independent and stand on our own two feet, but we still need a mentor, a guide, or a teacher, especially for their wisdom.
I have been very lucky to have such a mentor and a teacher. They acknowledged me and let me know that I am not only the one I see now but I am the one who is shining independently infinitely and eternally. Their enlightenment provided a role model for me in which I can see myself, and their words were clarity for my brain and led to the action power.
Embracing everything, pure, bright, and strong; those are the characters of the Nature. Mountain, trees, sun…they are all pure, bright, and strong. I saw these qualities through my mentors and I am very clear now in which direction I am heading as a life coach.
Shining like sunshine, saturating like rain, waking like thunder, breezing like wind…many living models exist all around us that we can learn from. I am also so grateful that I was able to meet many great teachers that I can visualize as role models.
Here I’d like to introduce a poem written by my teacher, Ilchi. This poem summarizes the qualification of a mentor for me:
LET ME BECOME A MENTOR LIKE THIS
I am not seen with visible eyes
But with the mind’s Eye of eternal light
Not too close but not too far
Not satisfying the eyes, but fulfilling the mind
Not too bright but not too dark
To be a leader not a controller
Not to leave the student as a student
But as a teacher guiding the teacher
To one who is lost, to become an index finger to guide them
To become a light to brighten the darkness
Don’t show up once they have found the way
Afraid you’ll become a palm blocking the light
Become a small light to people wandering in the dark
Don’t become a cane for the blind
Become a doctor to open their eyes up
As a healthy person doesn’t need a doctor
Be concerned about the illness
But don’t be attached to the person
Become a light to brighten up the darkness
Don’t become a shadow hiding the sun
Completion of Divinity and joy is
changing human character to the divine character
and there are love and joy.
Terri Kang has been teaching yoga and meditation to kids and teens between 5 and 17 at the Brain Education in Korea for four years. She developed various programs to help students improve their body, mind, and brain power and implemented this program to help them improve their school grades, social relationships, leadership, and English Language skills.
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