Getting to Know "Sensei Sunshine"
AUTHOR: Dagmar Reinhard
If you saw the musical "The Greatest Showman" in July this year, you remember the inspiring Host/Master of Ceremony that dazzled the audience between scenes.
This MC is Meredith Medland Sasseen, known as "Sensei Sunshine". She teaches self-defense and fitness classes and lays the foundation for The Village Dojo, a home for the teachings of Dynamic Circle Hapkido. Sensei Sunshine holds a Second Degree Blackbelt.
Sensei Sunshine teaches techniques that empower students to be aware of their surroundings, identify and avoid danger, and awaken their power. For the past two months, she has donated all proceeds from her self-defense classes at AKKA Institute to a local NGO, the Family Support Center of Ojochal. To fulfill her desire to teach self-defense and self-confidence to local schools, teenage girls, and women's groups, Sensei Sunshine is rigorously studying Spanish.
The in-depth leadership training focuses on five tenets - Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit. Parents report that students are more confident and aware of their surroundings in everyday life.
Wherever Sensei Sunshine shows up, one thing is for sure - she brightens up the space, and her focus on being of service shines through. We sat down with her to ask a few questions:
Ballena Tales: You are so passionate about teaching Hapkido Self Defense. Why?
Sensei Sunshine: Self Defense is a path to self-awareness - it empowers and transmutes fear - it's a tool to access personal power and self-confidence.
"The Power is in the Person, not in the Punch."
Many of my students have come to Costa Rica to slow down, do medicine work, or experience a radical change. Self Defense classes are transformative - excavating fears, bringing them to the surface, and addressing them with tangible, real-life, hands-on skills. The combination with fitness makes practice both fun and educational.
Ballena Tales: You've said that learning to speak Spanish fluently is your #1 priority. Why are you putting so much effort into learning more than just the basics?
Sensei Sunshine: I honor and respect the people and the culture and do not try to turn this place into something else. Language is the root of the people and the access point to intimacy. I rigorously study Spanish because simple daily interactions fulfill me. The services I use are increasingly Tico-based as my Spanish improves, which makes me feel more integrated.
"Our voice is the most powerful self-defense strategy we have."
Also, I desire to contribute to the children here. My vision is to find a few financial sponsors who can make free martial arts classes available to all children. I want the children to practice together and transcend culture and race by focusing on the art form. I want them to experience the power of their voice and own their power so they can usher in a new world.
Hapkido can serve as a bridge between children from all places. It can help children and their parents avoid conflict and find safety. I want to see strong parents and children - when one person in the home studies martial arts or self-defense, it positively impacts the whole home.
Ballena Tales: Why did you and your family move to Costa Rica?
Sensei Sunshine: I've lived or traveled to different parts of the world. I visited Costa Rica 10 years ago to look at conscious communities and have dreamed of living here ever since.
We wanted to move away from digital device use, daily amazon deliveries, and sugar consumption. We needed a radical change to restore the desired balance in our lives. We were drawn to the living plant, animal life, and Pura Vida. So, as soon as the borders opened again, we left the United States.
We are so grateful to be building in Ojochal right now. My son is growing up in a media-free, low-advertising, reduced technology environment. Our family is blessed with language immersion, cultural expansion, and daily adventures. We love people and learning about who they are and what they dream about. People just like you! Whether you're visiting or creating a home here, I hope, dear reader, you reach out if you wish to connect. Pura Vida!
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