Grand Master Charles Kim and Jennifer Kim, his wife and co-collaborator of the Peace School of Chicago, will join the Midwest Yoga & Oneness Festival as presenters. The two continue the mission, begun by Master Kim's father, to provide tools for people to practice peace in their lives and will share their teachings with us in three sessions during the weekend. The Kims were available for an interview recently to shed light on their mission and why it is critical for us to learn their techniques.
1.Can you tell me more about the Peace School and it’s purpose.
Master Kim: The Peace School is an independent, non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping people of all ages practice peace in everyday life. It is the outgrowth of an organization my late father founded in our native South Korea in the early 1950’s. My father was a Grand Master in Traditional Taekwondo and was the first of his era to bring the disciplines of meditation and yoga into his martial art schools. He spent decades researching the origin of martial art and found an ancient connection between martial art, yoga and meditation, all with the purpose of creating a strong mind and body in order to do something positive for society, toward the ultimate goal of world peace. In 1972 our family moved to the United States and we opened The Peace School in Chicago.
The mission of The Peace School is to build world peace, one person at a time. We believe that inner peace and world peace are intertwined and interdependent. People therefore need tools and techniques to practice peace in everyday life in order for the larger peace to be achieved. We teach classes at our center in Peace Breathing Meditation, Peace Yoga, Traditional Taekwondo, Self-Defense for Women, Massage Instruction and Infant Massage. We have ongoing programs in nursing homes, senior centers, suburban park districts a hospital cancer center, and after school programming in an elementary school. We also offer Stress Reduction and other workshops to corporations, local businesses, community organizations and schools.
Jennifer Kim: Our largest outreach program is Peace Day in Chicago which we founded in 1978, three years before the United Nations International Day of Peace (IDP) was established. We organize a large downtown Peace Day event each September celebrating unity and diversity in our city and world with emphasis on the positive side of building peace in ourselves, families, neighborhoods, schools, cities, nations and the entire world. The event includes speakers, cultural performances, live music and the Call to Peace and World Peace Flag Ceremony. Partner organizations include Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Consular Corps, Chicago Commission on Human Relations and more. We also provide materials to all Chicago Public Schools encouraging students to take positive action for peace on the IDP. More information on Peace Day at http://www.buildthepeace.org/
Master Kim: My father often summed up the Peace School’s philosophy this way: Every person has both the ability and the responsibility to help each other create peace in our world. The Peace School’s mission is to offer accessible tools that people of any age or background can use to help them fulfil humanity’s shared mission of making world peace a reality.
2. What is Peace Breathing? How did it come to be and how does it impact the world?
Master Kim: Peace Breathing was founded by my father in the early 1970’s. He was an extremely disciplined person and was able to maintain daily meditation practice over many decades, regularly sitting in meditation for several hours at a time. He felt certain that if the general population practiced meditation, people’s lives would be much more stable and society as a whole would vastly improve. But he could not expect others to maintain the rigorous schedule of his own meditation practice. Year after year, he searched inwardly while researching breathing, anatomy, brain waves and brain functions, to come up with a simpler form of meditation. What finally came to him was Peace Breathing: inhale thinking “world”, exhale thinking “peace”. At first he thought it was too simple! But as he practiced Peace Breathing, he found he could achieve the same level of high, bright energy as he achieved during his more rigorous meditation sessions. Peace Breathing can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is at once a form of solitary contemplation and, equally important, becomes “moving meditation” as we incorporate it (eyes open) into our daily activities.
Jennifer Kim: Peace Breathing combines our most vital, fundamental life source – breathing – with the powerful energy of our thoughts. Grand Master Kim explained that we are constantly creating energy (vibration) according to the type of thoughts that we have. These various vibrations are stored in our subconscious mind and are also emitted outward, interacting with our surroundings. Unfortunately in today’s world, the habit of negative thinking is prevalent. By coordinating our breathing with the thought of peace (peace not only for oneself but also for all others) we create a very high vibration that is in balance with nature and in harmony with the movement of the vast universe. Peace Breathing is simple enough for anyone to practice while at the same time, very deep and profound. It brings us in tune with our deeper essence as a human being.
Master Kim: As we do Peace Breathing, we are sending out energy that is exceedingly bright and pure. This bright vibration touches our surroundings including plants, animals the earth itself and of course other people. This vibration includes all the beautiful components of true peace such as love, compassion, harmony and gratitude. So as we inhale “world’ and exhale “peace”, each breath becomes the light of love, harmony and peace. Step by step, we are creating the invisible foundation for peace. Once enough of this bright vibration has accumulated, peace will emerge naturally in our world. In my book, Peace Breathing: Lessons on Achieving Peace in Everyday Life, I give a lot of examples about how Peace Breathing impacts ourselves and the world. This is a big topic so let’s talk more about this a bit later in our conversation.
"Every person has both the ability and the responsibility to help each other create peace in our world. " - Grand Master Kim
3. I’d love to know more about the Divine Spark IN. What exactly is that and how did it come to be?
Jennifer Kim: IN (pronounced “een”) is a Japanese word sometimes described as mudra, a blessing, cosmic sign language or sacred meditation in motion. It is a series of hand and arm movements coordinated with special breathing. It is performed to attune ourselves with the universal laws of harmony while emitting powerful, harmonizing energy throughout the world. The Divine Spark IN came to this world mid-2017 through a wonderful spiritual leader in the global peace movement who has devoted her life to peace for humanity and all life on earth. We’ll talk more about her in the workshop. She is someone who can communicate beyond our physical world and received this IN as a gift from the universe to help humanity reconnect with the divine spark that exists within us all.
Master Kim: As we perform the Divine Spark IN, a pillar of light penetrates and purifies our minds and hearts so that we naturally recall the sacred, divine existence of all human beings. My father often talked about the seed of the universe that exists within our minds. The Divine Spark IN awakens this seed so it can grow and flourish within us. Boundaries and barriers that human beings have created naturally melt away as we experience the healing, uplifting and expansive energy of the Divine Spark IN.
4. You’ve mentioned the “critical moment in earth’s evolution”. Could you speak about the importance of learning these powerful techniques and why it is critical for all of us now?
Master Kim: Our planet is entering its 7th age. The number 7 means completion. In this case, completion means it is time for earth to exist in its complete form, to exist as a place of harmony and peace. Throughout history, humanity has deviated from its role of supporting peace on earth and in fact, humanity has done much to bring our planet to the brink of destruction. Throughout history, human beings have allowed war, hatred, discrimination, jealousy, anger, fear, resentment, disregard for the environment and other negative energies to take shape. As we talked about earlier, the thoughts/energies we create are stored in our subconscious mind. Over time we have built up shared global subconscious energy, consisting of energy from each individual. It is here where a huge amount of negativity has accumulated.
Because we are entering earth’s 7th age, current negative energy and lingering historical energy has to be cleaned out in order for a peaceful world to emerge. My father explained it this way: A blueprint already exists in the universe for complete peace on earth. However, humanity has created another blueprint in our shared subconscious that is loaded with negativity. Which blueprint will take shape in our physical world? It depends on the energy created by people living on earth at the present moment.
Practices such as Peace Breathing, the Divine Spark IN and other methods of generating bright energy are therefore critical. Let us not add more negativity to our accumulated subconscious energy which could lead to disastrous consequences. We can definitely bring down the blueprint of peace if enough people sincerely harmonize with its bright, expansive and open energy. We are therefore delighted to share the remarkable tools of Peace Breathing and the Divine Spark IN so that more people can experience this energy and contribute to the peace of themselves and our planet.
5. Are there any other projects in the works that you would like people to know about?
Jennifer Kim: A simple way to start the day with peace is by following our daily Call to Peace on social media or through a message in your inbox. Each day we honor one country of the world by sending out energy of peace and love to that country. This builds a sense of community with our global brothers and sisters. More information here: http://www.buildthepeace.org/call-to-peace/ .
Master Kim: This year is the 40th anniversary of Peace Day in Chicago. Our main event will be downtown in Daley Plaza on September 21st when the United Nations International Day of Peace is observed in many parts of the world. If you can’t make it to our event, please observe a Minute of Silence for World Peace at noon that day. If you’d like to create Peace Day activities in your area please get in touch with us. We would be happy to support your efforts in whatever way we can.
Karen Kramer is a yoga instructor and festival blogger.