Coming full circle in Seoul
By Grace Song
The One Circle Community (OCC) is a non-profit organization that aims to help people explore human diversity while feeling the common threads that interconnect us all. As the director of OCC, the group was started out of a personal yearning to join an open and spiritually centered community.
A foreigner studying in Korea is often likely to feel isolated and stuck in an ethnically limited space. These feelings gave impetus to starting a weekly special guest lecture series centering on inter-religious dialogue, with a special focus on religious groups considered to be a minority in Seoul.
By 2011 the concept of the gatherings naturally evolved and expanded to include speakers from a variety of backgrounds: comedians, artists, photographers, directors, book collectors and yoga experts.
As a complement to this series, the OCC started weekly Saturday meditation sessions at the Eundeok Cultural Center which is a beautifully designed hanok-style house. While the lecture series allow people to actively engage with others in their communities, the meditation sessions allow participants to go inwards and engage with the precarious mind.
The quiet space provides practitioners with an opportunity to relax their bodies and rejuvenate their spirits after a long week of stress or anxiety. Each session begins with qi exercises followed by seated meditation, walking meditation and discussion. Afterwards, everyone is invited for a cup of organic tea at Margot Café, located right next door. Since the tea is complimentary, members are encouraged to try a new type of tea every week.
Margot Café is also the meeting space for OCC’s monthly book club. Every month, members gather to discuss Karen Armstrong’s “12 Steps to a Compassionate Life.”
They ask the questions: What obstacles do I face in living a compassionate life? How can I integrate compassionate thoughts and actions into my daily activities? What resolutions should I make this month? Discussing the topic of compassion has encouraged members to reflect on their actions and inquire into why living a compassionate life is challenging but not impossible.
The OCC has exciting events coming up including a special screening event for the documentary, “Cultures of Resistance” on May 11th. After meeting the Brazilian-Korean director Lara Lee an additional screening was scheduled as a way to spread the word about a worthy cause.
The documentary shows how “people from all walks of life are finding creative ways to oppose war and promote peace, justice and sustainability.”
In August, the OCC will hold its annual summer meditation retreat in Oahu, Hawaii for 10 days. Retreat participants will learn more about meditation while touring the idyllic spots of Oahu. For more information about all these events, visit the organization’s website at www.onecirclecommunity.org.
The author is a contributing writer.