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Title Dahn Yoga - Shim Sung Training
Description Dahn Yoga Shim Sung Training

âThe Shim Sung training described in the following testimonial took place at a Dahn Yoga center in the U.S.A. The writer has modified a few minor details to protect his/her identity, but nothing of importance was changed. The writer did not research Dahn Yoga prior to purchasing a membership and regrets this decision. There is so much material available on the internet, and the writer states that if he/she had spent a few minutes investigating Dahn Yoga, he/she never would have joined.â Steve Hassan 7-12


Iâm writing this on the day that I finished taking the 2-day intensive Shim Sung training at the Dahn Yoga center. The purpose of Shim Sung training is to find my true self. I finished the program and now feel very uncomfortable with what I experienced.

Before this weekend, my experiences with Dahn Yoga have always been very positive. Loving, welcoming people who are generous with hugs and warmth always greet me at the door. The classes have been fun and make me feel really good. So I was expecting a similar, positive experience at the Shim Sung training class.

My first surprise came when I entered the Dahn Center and felt a very different type of energy from the instructors. Although they greeted me, the atmosphere was very serious and I had a strange sense that I met with their disapproval, although I had no idea why. Now that I have completed the course, I can see that what I experienced with the first part of the upcoming 2-day mind control process that was to follow.

There were 6 of us attending the class and about 8 instructors present. Most of the instructors were sitting off to the side and spent most of the 2 days there, between demonstrating the activities for us. There was one main instructor who sat at the front of the class.

We were shown a list of rules for the class. The instructor asked us if we would promise to follow the rules. We all agreed. There was a great deal of emphasis placed on participating with 100% of our energy. We were even expected to read the rules in the loudest voice we could muster to demonstrate our commitment to following the rules. Then we were asked to evaluate how much of our energy we used in shouting out the rules. The others in the class were asked to evaluate what percentage of energy we felt each person had really used while reading the rules. Of course, all of us had used much less than 100% of our energy. The instructor then told us that this was how we lived our lives, breaking promises. So we read the rules again, shouting even louder, and the instructor smiled her approval. We were asked to read this list several time during the first day of training, and each time, the instructor pointed out that we had, once again, not used 100% of our energy, and had therefore broken our promise to participate 100%.

Many times, we were asked questions, and when we answered without shouting at the top of our lungs, we were reminded that we were breaking our promise and would not get the most out of our Shim Sung training as long as we contributed less than 100%. Of course, many other times, when we answered questions in a normal voice, it was completely acceptable, so it became a bit confusing to figure out when we were supposed to scream our answers versus when a normal âinsideâ voice would suffice. This made me feel insecure and uncertain.

Although there were positive aspects to the 2-day training, the teaching tactics overshadowed these positive elements for me. Also, some of the activities did not really teach the point they were intended to teach. It appeared that the actual outcome of the activity was increased dependence on the approval of the instructor.

For example, one of the first activities involved crossing an imaginary bridge. On each side, the additional instructors lined up and alternated in shouting a phrase in Korean at the person who was crossing the âbridge.â It helped to get the participant hyped up and energized to complete the task. It was actually quite effective. The point of the activity was to cross the âbridgeâ in a unique way, using 100% participation in the activity. All the other instructors demonstrated a unique way of crossing, and we were to find our own unique way, not copying their style. This is much harder than it appears. As each member crossed, a Dahn Master stood at the end holding two signs. One sign read Pass and the other sign read Again. So each member would get hyped up, then cross the bridge. Some passed the first time around, others had to try again, either because they were not unique or they did not use 100% energy. Sometimes, the main instructor would stop the game and ask us why we thought the member did not pass, or she would ask us to judge whether we thought the person should pass based on how much of their energy they used. This game continued for a long time, until there were only two members who had not passed. One member was a sweet gentleman in his early 70âs who kept a positive attitude, but struggled with the activity because of his physical limitations. I noticed that each time he crossed over, he attempted to use a different motion with his body, but the instructor told him each time was too similar. This meant that he was stuck in his way of doing things, and this was a reflection of how he lived his life, stuck in his own ways. He finally passed when he got on the ground and scooted across the room in a new way. This looked a bit hard for him, but he was no worse off for the experience, at least he didnât appear to be. The other member who had not yet passed was a young woman. I could see the distress and frustration on her face. Toward the end, after numerous attempts, she was in tears, but she continued to try. Finally, the instructor told her that it was too late. She had failed. She would no longer be given any other chances because her failure was holding up the training for everyone else. The young woman was crying and despondent over this, but sat down with the rest of the class for the discussion of the exercise. The point was supposed to be for each of us to break free of our patterns. In theory, this could have been a fun and educational lesson. For me, it was distressful to watch the intense disapproval demonstrated by the instructor, and the real goal of the game was to see the Pass sign held up at the end. What a relief to see that sign and know that I would not be compelled to attempt over and over to find a new (and sometimes embarrassing) way of crossing the imaginary bridge. But the young woman who failed was subjected to further scrutiny during the discussion time as the instructor drew attention to her failure, comparing her failure to her life. In reality, some people perform better under stress than others, and as the stress placed on this woman increased, her chances of success decreased. It has been scientifically proven that people perform better under mild stress, but their performance diminishes as the level of stress increases, and under severe stress (such as this young woman was placed under), people cannot function. This game supported this scientific research. If the instructor truly wanted to teach us how to change our patterns, the stress level should have been only mild, and the support and encouragement should have increased for those who were struggling. Instead, we were told to stop thinking; we were stuck in our own minds too much. Stop thinking and the answer would come from inside.

As the dayâs activities continued, I became physically and emotionally drained. We were given a break every several hours to use the bathroom, get a drink, and eat a snack. They provided us with a nice assortment of healthy snacks, which was refreshing and appreciated, and I looked forward to the breaks as a chance to unwind for a few minutes and relax. One interesting thing that I noted, however, during the breaks, was that the additional instructors would stand around the perimeter of the room, not talking, just standing there. This is very different from the way they act with us at normal exercise classes. They are usually very happy and warm, smiling and interacting with us. During one of the breaks, a woman class member commented that it seemed like we had our own bodyguards. I thought that was a great analogy because thatâs exactly how it looked and felt. At one point, I attempted to strike up a conversation with a couple of them, and they were very short with their responses to me and their body language shouted, âStop talking to me.â The usually smiling faces were reserved and withdrawn. One of the newer âMaster in Trainingâ instructors started to smile at me, but I noticed the other shot her a disapproving look. At this point, I knew that they had been given strict instructions for how they were to behave around us, and I knew that their role in the training was not to provide emotional support. They were an integral part of the mind control aspect of the training.

After our breaks, we had to get hyped up and yell âOpen Sesame!â five times so the doors to the training room would open. We were greeting with all the extra instructors cheering, âYou can do it!â as we entered the room. After our third break, our main instructor told us that we were not using all of our energy when we entered the room and asked the other instructors to demonstrate. She told us that other Shim Sung classes had better participation than our class, and then she had us go back out and come back in demonstrating 100% participation. So we did, and she was happier with us. It was a little odd that nothing had been said the other times we had entered the room without yelling and screaming, but this time, at the end of an exhausting day, we were called on the carpet about it. Itâs just another example of how disapproval was random and unpredictable so I never really knew whether we were doing anything right.

The last game of the day was quite good. There were so many opportunities for great lessons. My only concern was the delivery of the lesson. Again, the pervading message was disapproval. It seemed like there was an underlying desire on the part of the instructor to shame us, as if this was part of the process. Our emotions were on a roller coaster ride, up and down in a fairly unpredictable manner. The lesson of this game was very obvious once we sat down and looked at the outcome, so I donât think it was necessary to create a shaming environment. The lesson could have been delivered with kindness and gentleness and still be so impactful.

So the end of day one left me with mixed feelings. The potential good lessons were many, and I tend to see the positive aspects of everything, but there was a big red flag in my mind about many of the things Iâd experienced. I was committed to come back and see the training through to the end, choosing to believe that it would all make sense in the end. The purpose of the class was to find my true self, so I stayed optimistic that this would happen on day two.

I knew day 2 was going to be a long 10-hour day, so I ate a good breakfast in the morning before class, arriving to class with an open mind about the day. Part of our homework was to write an autobiography in the third person. I spent a lot of time working on this assignment, and liked the idea of it, figuring there would be some interesting lessons to learn from this. All the assignments were turned in roughly 30 minutes before class started, so I figured the instructor was reading what we had wrote. When class started, the instructor told us that she did not read what we had written. Instead she looked at the neatness and completeness of each assignment to see how much we had truly participated and how much of our energy we put into the assignment. She pulled out one of the pages that was left blank except for a name and one small paragraph. She spoke directly to the woman who had turned in the blank page and asked her why she didnât complete the assignment. She told her that in all the Shim Sung classes she had taught, this was the first time a student had written so little. The woman explained that she tried for an hour and a half to write something down, but it was too hard for her. The instructor told her that she was a liar, and this was how she lives her life, as a liar. She was very harsh with the woman. There was no compassion. It was obvious that this woman struggled with expressing herself, and there must be some painful experiences in her past. But the instructor kept calling her a liar and expressing extreme disappointment in her. This was a bad start to the day, and I hoped it would get better.

The instructor discussed the difference between master consciousness and slave consciousness. We were asked to mention words that described each of these two types of consciousness. A line was drawn down the middle of a large page on an easel and we created two very different lists of words. We were asked to read each list a couple of times. Then the instructor chastised us because we used the same level of energy to read each list. I guess we were supposed to shout the list of master consciousness words, but we didnât.

After some contemplation and discussion with our partners, we were asked to tell everyone the word(s) from the slave consciousness list that stuck out in our minds, something that we tell ourselves. Some examples were: failure, sadness, anger, and fear. After we shared our words, the instructor started pointing at us and angrily yelling at each of us, âYouâre a failure! Youâre stupid! Youâre ugly! Youâre a liar!â That was unexpected and a bit shocking. Her point was that we say those things to ourselves and she was showing us how we kill our true selves little by little when we do so. Okay, point taken. It definitely felt bad to have someone do that to me, so why would I do it to myself. It was interesting that the woman who didnât complete her autobiography assignment was still being called a liar; the word the instructor had called her earlier.

Next, we were told to form two circles. The other instructors joined us for this exercise. Each person in the outer circle was to stand face to face with someone in the inner circle, maintaining eye contact. The outer circle people represented our preconceptions and the inner circle people represented our true self. So the person standing in front of me pointed her finger in my face and angrily started screaming at me that Iâm a failure, and other painful things. All around me, this was happening to everyone else. It was quite shocking, and I started to cry right away. We were told to fall to the ground as we felt our true self dying. I stood there maintaining eye contact with the woman who was yelling at me. I guess I wasnât doing it right because one of the instructors came over to me and tried to push me down to the floor. I dropped down on one knee, and she tried to make me drop all the way to the ground. I looked at her and said, âNo!â and she left me alone. I really didnât want to drop down at all. After the initial shock of being yelled at wore off, I began to feel strong and wanted to remain standing. I was starting to think, âThis is cruel and stupid.â It was abusive. We changed places and repeated the process from the other perspective. It felt weird to point my finger at the instructor and yell at her, which represented me yelling at my true self, but I knew I wasnât actually hurting her, so I wasnât feeling too bad about doing it.

I guess the woman who had not completed her assignment was still struggling to participate in the exercise. I donât blame her since she had someone screaming in her face that she was a liar. The main instructor singled her out once more and chastised her for not participating. I guess she wasnât making eye contact and wasnât putting any effort into the experience. So the main instructor made all of us, including the other instructors, stand in front of her, moving in closely. So it was her facing about 14 people. Then the instructor told us all to point at her and scream at her that sheâs a liar. Everyone starting yelling at her, many very angrily. I couldnât do it. I was standing in the back, crying for the woman. I was so surprised to feel someone grab my arm and pull it up to point at the woman. I glanced over and saw that it was one of the instructors, trying to force me to participate. Iâm ashamed to admit that I half-heartedly joined in, crying the whole time for the pain I saw on the womanâs face. The main instructor stopped us twice to discuss the fact that the woman wouldnât make eye contact with us and wasnât being honest with herself. Then she made us continue for a third time. Finally, the woman lunged forward and started yelling, âI am not a liar! I am not a liar!â The main instructor stopped everything and asked us all to clap for her since she changed what she had been doing. Even though she was still not being completely honest, she had made a baby step in the right direction. Iâm amazed that she didnât walk out in the middle of it all. I would have. It was abusive. I was shocked by how the other instructors turned into monsters, angrily screaming at her, lunging forward as they pointed at her face. It was surreal, and I couldnât believe I was involved in anything like this.

I donât remember if we even did anything else before our lunch break because this activity overwhelms everything else in my mind. I was amazed, however, that the woman returned to the class after lunch. We started the post-lunch session in a very different fashion. We were giving mats to lie on and we just lay on the floor for about 30 minutes. After that we were coached through some breathing exercises before we sat up and did some stretching. Then we stood up and spent some time moving our bodies around to music in a brain wave vibration activity. The goal was to stop thinking and just move with our own rhythm. This is an activity that we performed often in the regular exercise classes, and itâs actually very enjoyable. After doing this activity for about 10 minutes, we were led through a meditation session using our life particle cards. These cards are supposed to be a powerful energy source. During the meditation exercise, we were instructed to verbalize exactly how our bodies felt. We were told not to think, just let anything come out of our mouth that wanted to come out. I remember at one point saying that I felt silly doing this activity. Fortunately, the room was so loud; I donât think anyone heard me. We were then instructed to say âAahhhâ as loud as we could. This was supposed to open our hearts to finding our true self. We were instructed to place our life particle cards on our chest and continue to repeat âAahhhâ louder and louder. The instructors pounded on our backs, attempting to facilitate the opening of our chest. Then we were told to shout out âWhat do I want?â over and over, very loudly. We were to stop thinking and just let the answer come to us. She told us that if we wanted to, we could put down our cards and pound on our chests with our fists while yelling, âWhat do I want?â at the top of our lungs. We were instructed to let our bodies just move however they wanted, and I peeked open my eyes and saw people swaying about, and some were laying on the floor flailing their hands and feet in the air. It was very loud in the room with everyone yelling at once. I didnât want to pound on my chest, so I didnât, but suddenly one of the instructors pulled the life particle cards out of my hands and told me to pound on my chest. This was the third time that someone had laid hands on me to try and force me to do something I didnât want to do, and I was very mad.

We were told to raise our hands up when we discovered the answer to the question. As we raised our hands, the instructors came over and told us to change our chant to âI want ____â and fill in the blank with whatever we had discovered. This was our true self speaking itâs desires, I guess. We were finally stopped and asked to share what we had discovered. Two people had not discovered anything, including the woman who had been singled out before lunch. So these two were placed in the center of a circle with all of us sitting around them. We were instructed to point our life particle cards at them while they held their life particle cards to their chests or pounded on their chests while all of use yelled at them, âWhat do you want?â After several minutes of doing this, both people in the circle claimed to have their answer. So we all took turns sharing our answer. The woman who was singled out was told that her answer wasnât simple enough, as were myself and one other person in the group. So the three of us had to return to the circle while everyone repeated the process. Finally, we all had simple answers to the question, and the instructor was satisfied that we had all found our true selves.

So the answers to the question âwhat do I want?â included things such as love, peace, happiness, etc. I said love. So the instructor told me. âNow say âI am love.â This is your true self.â I truly could not believe that I had spent 17 hours on a floor, enduring abuse and physical exhaustion to end up with something I already knew and could have found just as easily by listening to a Beatles song!

We were then told to stomp very energetically across the room toward one of the instructors while yelling, âI am ____!â In my case, I am love. It was actually pretty fun and made me laugh and feel good. It would have been nice to shout positive affirmations for the entire time, since we had to do so much shouting.

The last thing we did was stand in a big circle and close our eyes while the main instructor read something written by Ilchi Lee. When we opened our eyes, someone was standing in front of each of us with a yellow rose bud. This was supposed to represent something, I donât remember what. But the training was over and everyone was hugging and happy again. All the instructors were back to their smiling, warm selves, as if we had not just suffered hours of abuse at their hands, and all was good again. We took lots of smiling pictures together, shared lots of hugs, and the old positive energy that Iâm used to feeling was back in the room. I was smiling just as much as everyone else, feeling the positive energy in the room and enjoying the hugs. I was so relieved that it was over and I had survived.

We endured two days of intensity. Emotions were manipulated up and down numerous times, and I was exhausted. We had been told that it would be best not to discuss what we had done during the class with anyone outside of the class because itâs something that you must experience to understand.

When I arrived home, I was physically and emotionally drained. I knew that what had happened during the class was so wrong. I was still in shock that I had actually been sucked into participating in something like this. I resented having my emotions manipulated. I was angry that they laid hands on me when I didnât do what they wanted me to do. I was so sad about how they treated some of the others in the class. All the negative aspects of the experience began to really sink in once I was home, and I decided that I needed to write it all down. It was a crazy two days full of mind control tactics.