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The Power of Open-Mindedness: Lessons from a Korean Tradition

My meditation helper, Robin, invited me around for lunch one day and I was excited as it was going to be a Korean lunch.

I arrived with great anticipation as I heard Korean food was great! She explained that May in Korea is like a month for family in that they have Children’s day, Parents' day and Teachers' day.

two people bowing
Full Body Bow

She also said that in Korea it is often customary to give a full body bow (on the ground) to parents and elders as a way of showing humbleness and respect. So, we actually tried it! After doing the bow, I started to feel very uncomfortable as I had not done anything like this before.

Despite the explanation, I felt like I was being asked to do something that was diminishing myself and that I was telling people they were way above me and better than me. But over time I thought about it and discarded about it whilst doing meditation over a few sessions and it made me think more deeply about why I had those feelings and perspectives.

I realized my perspective arose from my Western culture and upbringing which does not bow or do anything like that.

So it was something I was not used to doing and it made me feel small. I realized that when I form a view on something I look back on my past experience to try to understand what it means. In this case when I looked back on my experiences with bowing. I couldn’t find anything other than hearing that it is something you should not do to anyone, not even the Queen, and this made me feel uneasy despite being told what it really meant.

After meditating I was able to see the real point of it - that it was a way to show humility and respect and to acknowledge, ‘There is a lot you can teach me”

After this I started to look at my perspectives on things with a more open mind and I now realise that there are hundreds of different angles and viewpoints for every situation yet most people simply see their perspective as fact.


This has given me the profound realization that what comes up in your mind might not be the only way to consider each situation.

Since my perspective on bowing has changed from this experience, I have now been able to apply the concept of humbleness to different aspects of my life, and it has helped me in a lot of relationships.

For example, when my partner tried to teach me something about cleaning, my initial reaction was defensive, “I know what I am doing. I am right.” However, now I was able to challenge my perspective and bow to her greater knowledge. I was able to recognize that she is a lot better than me at this and I can just listen and learn. It has also worked when learning from people at work and on many occasions in my general life.

One simple change of perspective from one situation in my life has had such a positive impact on me!

To reiterate — the initial perspective you form in your mind arises from your past experiences. This perspective is just one perspective. The person next to you who has lived a vastly different life from you will have something completely different come up from the same situation.

When negative things come up in your mind about anything in life, don’t just stubbornly hold onto that perspective without questioning its basis. Ask yourself what the alternatives are and whether your own way of seeing things is the only way. In other ways also my perspective has been challenged in this meditation, and I now recognize that it is my ability to successfully negotiate what is trying to be taught against what the initial perspective is, that has allowed me to keep pressing forward and not give up.

I can now proudly say that I am getting closer and closer to the completion stage. In my last entry I spoke about how being Open-Minded is one of the most important things in this meditation and this blog is an elaboration on that theme.

There have been many people I have meditated with over the past year and a half and many have left. I can now see for many why that is. Something has challenged their perspective and, unwilling or unable to see it from the angle that was being shown, they forgot all the great benefits they had already experienced, and they left. They were on the verge of something great, but a lack of Open-Mindedness made them walk away.

Don’t let that be you.

Eyes and Ears

From 'Mind'

The Bible says that when the Savior comes,

everyone will see him

but no one will know him

because they will expect him to be

something other than a man.

It is said that those with eyes will see,

and those with ears will hear,

but this means that only those whose hearts are open

will be able to see and hear.

When one has closed off his heart,

the sounds of the heart cannot be heard.

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댓글 2개

David Clouston
David Clouston
6월 03일

Thank you Tim for sharing. I can really relate to what you said about bowing and the Western culture I live in. I never bowed to anyone and so I thought too: why do I need to bow to someone else?? But of course, it showed how self-centered I am and the big difference between the west and East! 😄 I loved this article, because it is original and talks about something important.

6월 03일
답글 상대:

Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts 💕

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