I kept seeing signs in my neighborhood for a mediation center and thought oh great! This will be so convenient since I really like meditation. Their website was a little weird and said that they have meditation sessions hourly from 8am-6pm so I decided to wander over on a Sunday afternoon to check it out. Boy is Garrett lucky he was out of town for this! I was amazed at how beautiful the center was. A huge modern house with a beautiful garden and lavish decorations not typical for Botswana….major red flags as this is not what I would expect from a meditation center.
I was greeted with incredible enthusiasm from two korean women. One spoke english, the other did not but tried in every way possible to communicate with me using the 10 or so words she knew. They offered me tea and dumplings as a snack which I was pretty excited about. There were 2 other locals at the house. They had just finished their “sessions.” I was told they were at different levels so they did not meditate together. Again I was confused. I was asked to sit on the couch and fill out forms with my name, address and credit card information to enroll in the “program.” I was like “…um can you tell me what the program is?? I am just here to try out your center…I can meditate on my own. I am not interested in committing to a daily program.”
This was not received well. I was told that to be successful, I needed guidance and teaching that I could not attain on my own. This was a very special kind of “subtraction meditation” from South Korea that is better and more effective than anything else. Membership entails you to 1 hour session a day for $50 a month!!! Which is a lot of money in Botswana. She then said this was discounted from the original rate of $200 per month that most other countries pay. I tried to keep from laughing. At this point I realized this was some kind of pyramid scheme, but was pretty curious what the heck their meditation strategy was and how they could convince someone to pay that much. I played along and said “well maybe if you can tell me more about what it is you teach, I might be interested.”
I was asked to sit on the ground and locked in a small room where I was left alone to watch a series of videos. They were hilarious poorly made propaganda videos from Korea which highlighted how the meditation could cure all problems in life….it could take a diseased old woman and bring her back the vitality of a 20 year old, it could cure autism, it could fix any marital problems, it could cure poverty….pretty over the top stuff. I was half expecting them to say that it could cure HIV (I guess they didn’t know their audience in Botswana that well)! After an hour of being stuck in this room, I was happy to have the korean women come back in. She was very excited “So how do you feel! Very happy right! You want to join right?!” I told her the videos didn’t answer any of my questions and asked if she could explain what exactly they teach. I had put in enough time already…I wanted to figure out what the hell was going on inside this place! She then stood in front of a white board and asked me if I knew what the big bang theory was….definitely not what I was expecting. She made me explain what I thought it was….then told me I was wrong. She started talking about the evolution of man….drawing stick figures and pictures of the brain. Saying that she is an enlightened being leading others on their path to become one with the universe! Trying to poorly explain how the mind works. I wish so much I had this all on video! I finally had to interrupt her and say …..yes yes I know all this – can you just tell me something about how your guided meditation works! She launches into another long meaningless rant, this time using a magnet model with a series of circles…..I interrupted her again to try to force the point – can you just do a short example session to show me how its done?! Finally I got a clear answer….”No we will not give away our secrets…you must join and pay to see.” She told me that I would “die alone and unhappy and live each day in a world of darkness and sadness if I didn’t join”…..yikes!
Ahhh finally an answer I could understand. Well at least I tried. Before she would let me go, she said I had to dance with her. I was like…Ummm what??? She said it was very important. Again I had come this far so why not try the dance. A local member and the other korean leader joined us and we did the “Best Health Dance.” 10 minutes of hilariously ridiculous childlike guided dancing. I actually quite enjoyed it and am considering making Garrett do this with me daily. I could see how it could be stress relieving and good for the joints.
After our dance…I was finally able to sneak out. Thank goodness I never gave them any of my contact info! When I got home I google Maun medication and found a bunch of information describing it as a “ a korean brainwashing cult.” Yowzers! Seems they trick down and out people into joining thinking they will solve all their problems and keep them hanging for years promising if they just give it a little longer and pay a little more they will reach enlightenment and have no more problems in the world. It made me really sad to think about the poor local people in Botswana who are falling for this and likely going into major debt with the hopes of finding a path to happiness. But many people here spend up to $50 a month on alcohol so I guess this is at least a more productive use of time and money!
What bizarre 2 hours of my life. But pretty excited I can now say that I almost joined a cult!