30 Jun

It’s been over two years now since I left New Orleans and took a leap and headed for Germany.  Who knew that original six week adventure would extend into a transformative journey… first in Germany, next in France and now nestled in the hills of South Korea.  You know what they say, wherever you go… there you are.  And here I am!  In Paju now for over 6 months! As my international escapade continues, with all the new people and experiences, new food, and new languages, the one common character cast in this odyssey is… me.  So it seems for my own good I had better pay attention and learn my lessons as I travel the road of this “Grosse Lebenscchule”, German for “big school of life”.

I went to the chiropractor yesterday.  My typical weekly appointment in the ebb and flow of healing my injured ankle.  But this week there was something a little different.  My neck… it was so tight!  I generally have a habit of holding my stress in my shoulders and my neck, but this was something a bit over the top.  I could feel myself holding on so tightly in my neck and feeling like I just couldn’t relax or let it go.  My chiropractor dug his hands into my neck, made a few adjustments and then expediently shot some sort of gun into my neck a few times.  He instructed me to put an icepack on my neck when I got home and then sent me on my way.

Immediately after I met a friend from my Buddhist group in Seoul for lunch.  I was still reeling a bit from my chiropractor appointment and preceding 30 minute massage.  As she asked how I was I found I couldn’t offer a cheery smile and say “great”.  My body wouldn’t allow it.  As we began to talk tears started to flow down my face.  You know the kind – the tears that are going to come out no matter what you do, the ones you can no longer hold back and that a fake smile just can’t hide.  How fortunate for me I was met by her kindness and compassion.  We continued to chat as we ordered the much-loved food at a local Mediterranean restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul.

As we talked the day continued to pour open.  We were joined by two other members of our group, both women, all of us about the same age.  We departed shortly from the restaurant and went to our local SGI community center.  We chanted together for about an hour and then gathered to practice a dance routine for an upcoming retreat.  Afterwards we sat and collected and talked.  It was all light-spirited conversation, but in light of my earlier tears and the tight kink in my neck it was also informative.

At the end of the day it was clear to me that I was in need of a little life adjustment.  On this journey of mine, it seems there are times of rapid growth, times of challenge, and times of relief and new territory.  There are also times when something needs to be done just a little bit different to continue the journey and take things, myself and my life to the next level.  After listening to the conversation mingled throughout the afternoon, I could see clearly that it was time for some change in my life and I could see what it was… I needed to get more exercise and I needed to chant more.

As you may know, chanting is the basic practice of SGI Buddhism.  Members chant sections from the Lotus Sutra and also chant “nam myoho renge kyo“.  Anyone can do it.  I was first introduced to it by a friend in New Orleans just over two years ago.  At the time I was selling organic mushrooms at the local outdoor farmers market.  She said “Chant for your mushroom sales”… so I did and you know what… my sales doubled quite easily and unexpectedly with no additional effort on my part. I began chanting regularly and shortly after my life set sail on this journey.

That afternoon in Seoul, I was so inspired to hear about the challenges of these women and fellow SGI members and how chanting has ushered them through it.  I heard stories of amazing growth and transformation in their lives and families. I saw living proof in front of me of obstacles overcome in the bright spirits and faces I saw.  The afternoon of sharing wasn’t directed towards me or intended to convince me of any correct action.  As I listened and rode the tide of its wisdom I was happy to go to its gentle conclusion.  It was time for a little adjustment for me, recognizing that little changes now in time can lead to big changes.

And so it continues… this journey of a thousand steps and little adjustments.  What about you and your life? Are there any adjustments that you need to make, big or small, as you continue on your way?  Any tiny shifts in your daily way that could add up to a big difference in your life?  If you like, please write and share!  It’s always great to hear from you!

Photos at top: A sea  of umbrellas at a local mall in Seoul.

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