Yujeong Heo / Nurse
When I was in school, all I wanted to do was study hard. In my experiences with school, when I got good grades, I received my parents’ love and my friends’ interest and my inferiority was fulfilled. I became so bent on maintaining all of this attention, I became obsessed. During exams, I stacked textbooks high on one side of my desk and studied all day in the library. The only problem was that my grades didn’t reflect the amount of effort I was investing.
Some childhood memories made me obsess over exams
This was my study habit: I looked at the same page over and over again, impatiently. I tried to read multiple books at once, taking turns reading ‘this book’ and ‘that book’ every 10 minutes. 50 minutes of every hour was spent worrying about the exam. Then, when it came time to take the test, nothing I had studied was useful.
High school life always seemed to be about taking more and more exams. We had midterm exams, final exams and mock exams every semester. I felt like the blood vessels in my head would burst. I once grabbed my head and just had to lay down. I started to wonder if I could continue going to school in this state.
At that time, my mother recommended a meditation retreat. Of course I attended and, while meditating, I remembered an intense image of my mother in my childhood memories. I was walking alone with my mom and I started talking about the test ranking of my class. At that very moment, my mom coldly turned her back to me.
I was shocked and thought, ‘If I don’t do well at school, my mother won’t have any interest of love for me.’
My next memory was about my dad. When I was in middle school, my dad would tutor me in English during my summer vacation. English wasn’t very easy for me to learn, so he scolded me every day. I felt like I was at war with my father. From that time on, negative images of my dad began piling up. I hated him so much that I didn’t even want to be in the same room as him.
Eventually, all of those memories and old, useless thoughts that had built up in my mind had made me become obsessed with studying and where I ranked in my class. It was terrible. I suddenly realized that if I didn’t let go of these minds or old memories, I’d be trapped in my own mind world forever and live unhappily forever. Even if my body disappeared, I had realized, my consciousness would be the same. I wanted to get out of my mind world. After throwing away my minds, all of my inferiority and emptiness disappeared.
Learning to let go of my selfish thoughts before trying to gain knowledge
Gradually, I started communicating with my parents about the things that had happened in my past. I realized that my mom didn’t have any memory – at all – of turning her back on me. Also, my father, who was always the blunt patriarch of the family, had only wished for his child to do well in life. He really was only trying to look out for me and, as it turns out, is surprisingly sweet.
The second semester has now started and my study style has changed completely. Above all, my ability to concentrate has increased. The worries of, ‘I have to do better than…’ the mind of comparison and the obsession with competition have disappeared. Even in class, I can quickly understand the key points. Since meditating, I am continuously ranked first in my class. It has definitely becoming more comfortable and fun to study.
If I hadn’t emptied my mind at that time, my studies and my relationship with my family would have been messed up during my teenage years. Because of my experience, I want to tell anyone who will listen that, it is very important to let go of your selfish thoughts before trying to gain knowledge. And I would like to express my gratitude to my parents who gave me this opportunity during a very sensitive time during my youth.