(Minghui.org) I am a Westerner who has been cultivating in Dafa for four years, and as I continue to study the Fa, my understanding of Dafa’s content deepens and my appreciation for this opportunity continues to grow.

When I first began practicing Falun Dafa, I had a history of poor health, but also a deep curiosity about life and its origins. These are what led me to quickly recognize that this Dafa was what I was searching for.

When I was a teenager, I suffered injuries after I was hit by a car when crossing a street. I broke two bones on both sides of my right shoulder, temporarily lost consciousness and lost peripheral vision.

My bones were mended, but my range of motion had decreased and I found I had chronic discomfort. I would always find it uncomfortable to stand, sit or even lie down. I always felt tight and that my joints and tissues were out of alignment.

Not long after this I had my first anxiety attack. I didn’t understand what was happening to me and I experienced physical changes that were out of my control. These attacks would come and go and eventually became more frequent and severe.

I tried every treatment, exercise plan, and followed all sorts of professional advice with only short-term improvement.

All of these conditions gradually worsened over time and lasted for more than 10 years; my condition had become the focus of my life.

I remember the feeling when I first watched Masters Li’s lectures. I had this deep knowing that I was in the presence of truth.

Answers to the questions I had pondered all of my life were being revealed to me in clear and direct terms.

I felt that I had gained a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

I came to understand that true improvement came from shedding attachments, correcting incorrect notions and working hard on improving one's moral character.

I decided that I would take up cultivation. Three months later, I had my last beer and cigarette and committed to this spiritual journey.

Health Improves, Finding Hidden Attachments

When I studied Dafa it was always without the attachment to pursuit. I knew it had to be done this way so I wouldn’t let any thought of my health or attainments enter my mind. I just practiced and studied the Fa.

Four years have passed and to this day I have not had one episode of anxiety and my body feels very comfortable to stand, sit, or lay down. When I look back at how my life was before entering Dafa I can truly see the miracle of my transformation.

My improvement was obvious and things seemed to be going well. However, while my intentions appeared to be pure, I had deeply hidden attachments which have been brought to the surface through Fa study.

When answering a question during the Teaching the Fa at the Assistants’ Fa Conference in Changchun lecture, Master said:

“While worshipping the Buddha some people are thinking… they don’t have a specific motive in mind when worshipping Buddha and burning incense, but every day when they do this, they think: “Doing this means I’m paying respect to the Buddha and cultivating Buddhahood. Buddha, look at how pious I am to the Buddha.” They’re thinking to themselves, “I’m so devout in front of the Buddha. Buddha must be seeing this.” The Buddha won’t accept any thinking of the sort. He’ll think that the person is no good at all.” (Teaching the Fa at the Assistants’ Fa Conference in Changchun)

It is our hearts that Gods look at. Although I felt that I wasn’t pursuing any personal benefits, in actuality I was just like the person mentioned above. I thought that as long as I practiced and studied the Fa I would then be taken care of.

Before I began cultivating I was diagnosed with a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus which is scarring at the base of the esophagus which results in mild pain and discomfort similar to heartburn.

I would endure the pain when this would occur. When it was severe, I would break out in a sweat all over my body and I would remind myself that when it passed I would have repaid a certain amount of karma.

Recently, while driving the family home from visiting my parents, the pain was reaching the point of being unbearable and I was almost crying. I tried to remain calm and to treat it as a test of my faith; to see whether I was able to regard myself as a practitioner.

I knew that we had to bear some physical hardship however, I came to realize that this was actually a hint from Master to look within and to truly make improvements.

It was only through studying the Fa that I realized that I had many deeply hidden attachments. After looking within, I found I had the attachment to selfishness, jealousy, and certain desires.

I had formed the habit of protecting myself by way of avoiding conflicts and by doing so I was protecting my attachments from being exposed.

I needed to let go of these attachments and old notions and return to righteousness.

Through constant Fa study and with Master’s help, I enlightened to the fact that it is my heart that needs to change and that cultivation works directly by improving our very nature.

It is the origin of our thoughts that needed to fundamentally change to what is good and be in alignment with the characteristics of the universe Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Without these fundamental changes, any improvements would only be superficial, short-term, and bound to re-emerge.

Truly Changing My Heart

Because I cultivate in Dafa and through constant Fa study and practice my whole life has changed. I have a great relationship with my family, a great job, I am often at the top of my class in my studies and I am able to meet multiple challenges all at the same time while maintaining a clear and calm mind.

While I have made many improvements in my conduct in society, family and work life, these changes seemed obtainable by everyday people and are only minor changes.

For instance, I would often pick up litter that I came across and tidy up around our apartment complex. I let others go before me through entryways and roadways. If others are in an obvious rush I will stand aside at service desks. My language is clean and conduct is proper. I try to think of others before speaking or acting.

These changes all came through the study of Dafa. They are, however, only at the beginning stage of cultivation. What really needs to be worked on is the heart.

This is always discussed by Master but is not something I truly understood. With the improvement of my moral character, I am coming to understand the profound wisdom contained in Dafa and how solemn this Dafa truly is.

Cherishing Our Cultivation Environment

Our desires and attachments are brought out in our cultivation environment, in this everyday society. It is truly effective in doing this.

Restraining our negative thoughts that surface can be quite difficult and can achieve a reasonable effect. However, it is by completely rejecting these desires and attachments that enacts real improvement.

If we have no interest in these things then that goes beyond self-restraint and at that point, these desires and attachments will have no effect at all.

Paying Attention to Our Composure During Practice

When we perform our movements during practice it is written in the book Falun Gong that we should maintain “a serene expression on the face.”

This can easily be forgotten and I am sure has an important role just as much as any other position or movement during practice.

I remember reading a study once which found that when we smile it is hard for the body to strain or to remain tense. Whether or not this is true I do notice  a definite change when I smile slightly and my body feels to be in a serene state. I remind myself to have a serene expression during practice whenever I drift back to a blank expression on my face.

Cultivation practice is something solemn and its origins are ancient. Although many seek to cultivate, not everyone is able to find a true way or learn how to truly cultivate. As such, we should cherish this rare opportunity and put in great efforts to succeed.

I would like to thank Master for his immense compassion.

These are my own limited understandings at my current level in cultivation.

Please point out anything that is incorrect.