(Minghui.org) I am an American Falun Dafa practitioner. I would like to share how I found and started the practice of Falun Dafa.

It was the end of 2014 and I was searching for a meditation practice that could help me reconnect to my “higher self.” I had been raised for many years in Japan and had an understanding of what cultivation practice meant in the East, although I was of a different ethnic background. I began my search looking at esoteric, Buddhist, and Daoist teachings. One thing I had read was that you had to look for a very old practice for it to be genuine. So, after much frustration in my search for an ancient practice in bookstores I finally just googled “ancient Chinese Daoism” and the Falun Dafa website came up.

I was immediately drawn to it. I started to read the most recent lecture from the previous year, 2013. The tone was serious and solemn, and I realized that I had missed a lot of what was going on, so I went back to the original book, Zhuan Falun.

I read the whole book in two days and was so amazed and excited. It perfectly answered so many questions that I had about life.

I had been born into and raised in a Western cult. Like all cults, it was very communist in its beliefs and practices. I rebelled against it mentally at 13, and by 20 I had left it. I became very bitter and untrusting and had no faith in religions or people. I then spent 20 years avoiding all things spiritual and religious and any group-like settings.

However, I knew that life was more than just what was found on the surface and that life has a deeper meaning, so I began to search for that “deeper meaning.” I eventually looked at cultivation in the East because it is centered on the individual and was very much about changing yourself and Enlightenment. This made sense since I knew that no group or outside thing could really change a person on the inside.

I was not someone who would just believe something that I picked up without investigating it carefully, but when I read Zhuan Falun, I could not deny its truth. It spoke directly to my heart.
I started to practice right away and experienced many things that Master mentions in the book, like feeling my body being cleansed and Falun rotating. My celestial eye opened, and many wonderful things occurred. My mother saw how much I changed and started to practice with me.

It was a wonderful learning time for both of us. About 4 months into it, I found out about the persecution of Falun Gong in China and how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had labeled it a cult. I knew right away that was false, since I had grown up in one of the most infamous cults in the West. I knew all about how a cult operates and oppresses people.

A cult wants to control your thinking, your daily actions, your money, your self-esteem, etc. It wants absolute control over your mind and actions. When it can’t achieve that, then it tries to break you down and ruin your self-esteem. It also ruins your sense of morality to control you.

Dafa instead asks us to just live a normal life. There is no control over you at all. Dafa only taught me to be good to others and to always look at myself when there's a problem. Dafa taught me to not try and change others but to just change myself for the better.

I learned to just govern myself by following the cosmic principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance in my own home. I do the daily exercises that give me a wonderful energy as I go about my daily work and life. It is not always easy to follow these principles, but when I stop to calm my mind when I encounter a conflict, and I stop wanting to fight, then I can see the solution to my problem, and this comes from following these principles.

I found my heart becoming more compassionate to everyone around me, and my family exclaimed that I was a completely changed person. I used to be the main “negative person” in any group, always finding fault with everything. But now I was at peace and positive. My family used to call me “Debbie Downer,” which is a joke for someone who can never be happy in any situation.

My siblings were amazed at the rapid change in me. My mother also changed a lot and worked hard to repair her relationship with my siblings, which also amazed my family. My mother was partially disabled due to a back injury, but after only a few months of practice, she was able to help me move our home and was lifting furniture with no problem while in her 60s.

The beauty of Falun Dafa continues to change me and my family, and now my whole family has a better understanding of why my mom and I practice. They always say Falun Dafa is good.

I highly recommend that people look at this practice first before ever listening to what the CCP has said. The CCP operates like one big cult and only seeks to control a person for his whole life. The freedom of the mind and heart comes from using your own mind to assess things and then make your own choice for your future. That is freedom, and every human being has that in them.

(Submission to “Celebrate World Falun Dafa Day”2018 on the Minghui website)