Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dahn Yoga: A Holistic Cult

After all these years, I still believe there is merit in the actual exercises for pain relief. But, at some point, often early into your membership (*cough*..indoctrination??) you will realize that you can't pick and choose individual elements of the practice that you like. Dahn Yoga is not a la carte - it is a holistic practice wherein ALL the components, for better or worse, are interconnected.

You can go and enjoy the health benefits, but this is a cult, and you will absorb either directly or indirectly the cult energy, including:

- Love bombing - excessive hugging and physical touch* by the employees. *not sexual

- Exposing your vulnerabilities - they prey on the weak, and will expose your physical ailments and/or emotional pain in order to gain your confidence, control you, and sell you something.

- Shame and Guilt - they will use peer pressure and influence you to keep participating and buying into their scheme. If you're not buying, they will use your weaknesses against you and subtly manipulate you to do what they want. "Our $300 Shim Sung class is not worth your health? So you don't want to be cured of your blockages? You will never be free if you stop now, etc." Never underestimate the power of suggestion.

- You will pay - Yes, it's a business. Yes, they are selling products and services, but at a cost that exceeds any monetary value. Once you commit, they know they can keep cross and upselling their services MLM style. Several readers on my blog have reported spending literally thousands of dollars on retreats, seminars, healing sessions, and merchandise/accessories. Remember that each Dahn center has no choice to be preoccupied with bringing in new members and making money because they are funding Ilchi Lee's larger cult cause.

- Mind-altering practices - You're not just stretching and moving, you're led to meditation, closing the session by chanting "Happy body, happy heart, yes yes yes!", and strenuous/dangerous exercise in desert retreats. And, they often use loud, tribal "music" to coax a trance in form of wild and reckless body flailing. Failure or refusal to participate further increases the me vs. them chasm.

- The leadership structure is elitist - The instructors are to be addressed as "Master" and the Founder, Ilchi Lee claims a special, exalted status for himself. He has reported in interviews that he receives special messages from the divine, and is on a special mission to save humanity! Consider his construction of Mago Earth Park in Sedona, AZ. This place has massive statues of various gods, all erected to give the illusion of a harmonious world. People! There is only ONE true and living God, and He is Christ Jesus our Lord!

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Dahn Blog Posts...Need Your Ideas

Hello All, I'd like to write more on my blog but need your ideas. Please post your questions and ideas in the Comments section. You do not need to register to enter comments. Feel free to post anonymously :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Part 2: Practical Advice to a Concerned Blog Reader: "I am in a quandary"

A couple days ago, one of my blog readers commented that they didn't know what to do about their personal Dahn Yoga pickle. While they seemed pleased by the introductory healing session and class, they expressed concern about what to do next, ie, now that they know a little more about the sinister, cult-like history and current events of the practice. You can read their full comment at the bottom of this blog post.

Dear Anonymous Commenter, if you've returned to my blog to read part 2 of my dedicated post for you, I'm providing some practical advice for your consideration. I will be as  pragmatic and as legalistic as possible, but I will write with some "heart" because this is a subject that is near and dear to me.

1. You have membership cancellation rights.
Provided that you have not exceeded your trial period, you have every right to cancel your membership with a full refund as per your state's laws. For example, I live in the State of California, and we can cancel membership transactions within 10 business days. A quick Google search led me to CA's Consumer Affairs site outlining cancellation rights. 

2. It's only 3 months
You said that you "agreed to purchase a three month membership and additional healing sessions." If you've passed the grace period for cancellation, just remind yourself that you are committed for "only 3 months" and decide whether you will:

A. Chalk it up as a loss and opt out (no refund, nada).
B. Suck it up and go, even though you end up balancing the constant moral dilemma with the "Wow! This makes me feel terrific!" guilt.


Should you decide to continue participation, because hey - you did pay for it and you worked damned hard for your money.

1. Attend with PURPOSE
A. Write out your personal objectives for taking the class (and healing sessions) and ensure they are fulfilled. Don't add anything else beyond that. Going to class to increase flexibility? Do it. Want to focus on the exercises for your burning shoulder pain? Do it. Don't want to get sucked into the rhetoric and bullying sales tactics? Leave class IMMEDIATELY, do not stay another minute once the session is complete and don't look back...until the next class, that is.

B. Make a schedule of when you will go and stick with it.
Keep your "ritual" regimented so that you'll lessen any vulnerability you may have from taking additional and unplanned class/healing session impact.

2. Don't make friends there. 
I know. This sounds like such a jerk thing to say, but really. This is to protect your spirit.

A. Instructors: First of all, the Dahn Yoga administrators are your instructors. Don't ever let them indoctrinate you into thinking they are the "masters" that they call themselves. They are trained to be the master manipulators and they are obligated to meet sales quotas. For goodness' sakes, don't reveal anything about yourself to them. They can and will escalate a simple "I felt a little lonely today" into a full strike negative assessment of your nonexistent neurosis, social anxiety disorder, and their favorite, "BLOCKAGES!"

B. Classmates: Most of the time, your fellow classmates have no idea what is going on behind the scenes of Ilchi Lee's cult. They're harmless. BUT, the more they buy into the rhetoric, the more they become like one of Lee's sheep. Best to remain cordial and diplomatic, but don't get too friendly or share ANYTHING personal that leaves you (or your loved ones) in a vulnerable position.

3. Don't be social
This is related to point 2, but because of the community/classroom nature of Dahn, you should be especially vigilant. As lovely and as tempting the post-exercise tea sessions are, it might be best to avoid them. This is a prime opportunity for the instructors to collect stories from your classmates and exploit them down the line. "Oh, your knee feels better today? Well, if you learn the secrets of complete healing from our $800 XYZ class, you can remove blockages and achieve complete healing!"

4. Don't buy anything else!
I don't know how many healing sessions you bought, but please keep your money in your pocket. Do not spend another cent on Ilchi Lee's cause. A dollar in their register is a dollar in a greedy cult leader's pockets.  So please, don't buy any books, clothes, and definitely not any of those damned training sessions and weekend getaways!!!

5. Talk to your friends and family
You're feeling better and you're feeling a renewed spring in your step! You can't believe how good Dahn Yoga makes you feel! You want to shout it from the rooftops! Well, don't. At least, not to the wrong audience. We are designed to want to share good news with others, so go ahead. Share with your non-judgmental friends, family, or someone you can trust who is NOT affiliated with Dahn Yoga.

6. PRAY for protection
This is the biggest one for me. I have made it clear throughout my blog that I am a Christian, and I believe in the power of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that He is Jehovah Rapha, the Lord my Healer.

Before I go up against anything that brings me anxiety (interviews, meetings with difficult people, dangerous neighborhoods, a long drive, etc.) I pray to God for His hand of protection over me, and I thank Him that He is already doing a work in me and sending His army of angels over me.

Now, if you are not a Christian, I strongly encourage you to pray in your own special way and/or meditate and bring in mental and emotional clarity BEFORE going into each session. In fact, I would also pray AFTER for good measure so that you don't attract negative cult spirits on you. Do whatever you need to do that helps encourage, uplift, and heal your spirit.

I would love to hear what you decide to do and keep us informed of your progress. Please be sure to read through my blog as I've peppered tons of other practical advice that I've personally used as well as tips and tools from my own anti-Dahn friends and family.

Thank you again for reading my blog and I will look forward to your comments.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Part 1: My Heart to Heart to a Concerned Blog Reader: "I am in a quandary"

One of my readers left a very thoughtful and heartfelt comment this morning in response to one of my posts. They have been introduced to the introductory Dahn Yoga healing session and class, and are already in the crossroads of what to do next. On one hand, it feels right (soothing, healing, relaxing). On the other, something feels akin to being caught in the Matrix - my words, not theirs. Immediately below is a snippet of their comment. You can read their full comment at the bottom of this post.

"Reading your blog and others it is obvious that I should have trusted my initial instincts but I really wanted this to work. So, I am in a quandary: I could simply continue taking the classes but not succumb to pressure to become any more involved with the studio, but what is my moral and ethical responsibility to others now that that I see how easy it is to be sucked into something that may ultimately be quite harmful? Am not sure where to go from here."

Here's the thing about Dahn Yoga. If you are looking for pain relief or a greater sense of well-being, you WILL experience a moral dilemma. This is particularly true if:

1. You have severe, debilitating, chronic pain as I do. (Really, I am not truly living. I am simply struggling through my physical suffering).
2. You went into Dahn Yoga without any prior knowledge, ie, unaware of the dark side.

Dear Anonymous Commenter, if you happen to be reading, here's what I'd share with you with an earnest heart.

I don't know what your current physical condition is in. My pain is what initially drew me into my local Dahn Yoga center. The pain was (is) so horrific that it was also hurting me emotionally and mentally. If you are in the same shoes, or can strongly relate on at least 1 out of the 3 points (hurting body, mind, spirit), I feel for you.

There is no one answer, but there is a "best answer." Unfortunately, the "best answer" is not one that is always a one-size-fits-all. Sometimes, the sage advice, "follow your heart" is not the right way to go. Under circumstances, there are times when we have to override that statement and go through something anyway.

Some examples? Taking pharmaceutical medication to treat an intolerable medical condition even though it goes against your entire framework of "natural" healing. Or, agreeing to surgery when you've exhausted every single tool in your arsenal of homeopathic cures.

You've got to weigh the pros and cons from the brain and the heart. Or, try to examine which brings you more pain. Does the anxiety and philosophical angst you feel outweigh the physical burdens of your body? Would you be able to "suppress" one pain over the other with whichever decision you make?

Do keep in mind that one of the ways Dahn Yoga makes you feel better is its ability to release endorphins during and after each session. Would daily power walks or traditional yoga classes provide you with the same effect? Honestly, nothing I've ever done has felt better than Dahn. And again, this is coming from someone who, for the last near decade of my life has tried every single Western and Eastern medical modality known to civilization...not to mention the tens of thousands of US dollars I've spent out of pocket to cure (or at least manage) my pain.

I know it's tough, especially if you've been reading other articles and blogs on the madness that is Dahn Yoga. At the end of the day, you are committing yourself to an hour of exercises which help alleviate pain. But your head always has that big question mark coursing from your brain into your heart. I get it. 

Please consider this post a proverbial "heart to heart" over a warm coffee and pastry. I'll write for you a part 2 which gives just legalistic, pragmatic thoughts. Just my two cents. Please check my blog again on 6/9/15 for part 2. Thank you again for reading my blog and sharing your comment.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dahn Yoga Books

I admit it. When I was into Dahn Yoga, I bought 2 of their books, Human Technology and Brain Wave Vibration. Both titles are written by Dahn head honcho and founder, Ilchi Lee, who is a native Korean. The books are obviously translated into English, and they are written in a natural manner, ie. no strange Korean expressions literally translated into English. They're easy to read, follow, and accessible.

I still have both titles on my book shelf. For some reason, I still can't get myself to throw them away. And, I certainly wouldn't feel right donating them to the library or giving them away. I wouldn't want to spread the word of Dahn Yoga to others...well, other than to expose them, by means of this personal blog, at least.

I was thinking about doing a book review on both titles before I do throw them into the incinerator (actually, my recycle bin). I have to say that I quite enjoyed Human Technology when I last read it about 5 years ago. I don't know if this was because I was unwittingly allowing myself to explore New Age thinking beyond my strong Christian beliefs. In any case, I recall decent explanations about how our brains are wired and that we can incorporate simple exercises to relieve pain and stress. Ugh, look at that - it's like I'm making a plug for a modality I vehemently oppose.

As I've stated repeatedly throughout this blog, I do believe in the health benefits of Dahn Yoga. It's the underlying sneakiness and cult-nature of how the business is run and its manipulation of vulnerable folks (the elderly, the meek, the lost) that is inherently wrong.

I never cared for Brain Wave Vibration, which is Ilchi Lee's pride and show, and one of the foundational principles of the Dahn practice. I recall it to be oversimplistic and unmemorable. I read it once and it is still in "Like New" condition. Too bad I will toss it today rather than make a couple bucks by selling on Amazon.

If you do want a mini review of Human Technology, do give me a hollar by leaving a comment. I accept anonymous comments; You do not have to register...what a bottleneck that is, BTW!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dahn Yoga's Good Business Practice: Storytelling

No matter what you say about Dahn Yoga's business practices, you've got to admit that they know how to market business quite effectively. I remember when I first signed up and cancelled immediately after my "trial period" ended (no pun intended), I was so intrigued by the health benefits that I asked about other people's stories.

After my initial "healing session" I felt refreshed and released, in spite being told I had many "blockages" in my heart and beating my sternum to a bruised pulp. I asked my healer, let's call him "Ishmael," how he came to know and work with Dahn Yoga. He told me an earnest story about his lifelong depression and how it was debilitating in his home and work life. Even though I didn't have an earth shattering impression of the guy either way, I connected with his story. I have experienced my own long seasons of depression and anxiety throughout my life.

That Dahn Yoga could be a panacea of ailments of the mind and body helped reel me in. The other students shared their own stories during tea time. Some came for the overall health benefits of traditional yoga (even though Dahn "Yoga" is far from that practice) while others had ACL tears, insomnia, chemical addictions, and standard physical discomforts, including pinched nerves and chronic aches and pains.

Any good business follows a standard model to get it off the ground and keep it running. A great business knows how to sell a story to their product and service. Dahn Yoga knows how to capitalize on this not only by encouraging their employees to have stories, facts, and case studies handy (ie, sales pitches, testimonials, etc.) but also by eliciting the stories of members during tea time.

Storytelling is a good thing. It brings people together by showing webs of commonality and empathy among otherwise total strangers. I think most businesses, including Dahn Yoga, use this tactic to be effective both financially and (hopefully) with the best intentions for self and collective improvement. It is up to the individual, of course, to determine how they are impacted by this information.