(Minghui.org) Every now and then someone will ask me, “How did you start to practice Falun Dafa?” We all have a story and of course they often sound like a coincidence. But as practitioners, we know that there are no coincidences. Our lives are predestined and everything was well planned. And yet my story plays out like many – a chance encounter.

It was a Sunday morning. I was finishing my coffee. My husband was reading the paper. He said out loud, “The International Festival is going on at the fairgrounds. Every year we say we are going to go and never have. Today is the last day.” I took this moment to exercise my spontaneity. I got up and said, “Okay then, let's go.”

Strolling down the aisles at the festival, a flyer was handed to me. I looked at it and struggled with words I had never seen before – Falun Dafa. What was this? Just as quickly, I was handed a DVD in a paper sleeve. As I took it I was just a little cautious and said, “Is this for free?” “Yes – for free,” the sweet looking Asian woman said to me. I took a glance at the booth as I continued walking – thinking how glad I was that no one pressed me further. At the booth, I remember seeing the word “Energy” and thought – well who doesn't want more energy? The flyer had a photo of someone on it meditating and I remembered how I had learned transcendental meditation in college and practiced it for many years. I always meant to go back to it, but the closest thing I got was the deep relaxation we were guided in after yoga class. I dropped the DVD and flyer in my bag.

I took a closer look at both items that evening. I watched the DVD. I never was one to watch much news and the Entertainment section of the newspaper was usually the only part of the news that I ever read. And yet, I was surprised I had not heard about the persecution going on in China. How could such a thing be happening and yet I had no idea. Less than a week later, I was looking at the weekend paper – Entertainment section – and saw a class being offered – for free. It was Falun Dafa. Twice in a week's time I was reading about something I never knew existed. The universe was surely telling me to check this out. I called and wrote down the specifics of the class, and attended. It appeared that it was mostly Chinese people who practiced this, but there were many Westerners there, like me, to learn.

Well I was awakened, because after that first class I felt a pull to return every week. The other Westerners came and went.

I had for years been interested in alternative methods for health and healing. I studied nutrition, herbology, reflexology, iridology, etc., and yoga. I thought this could be a wonderful addition to my yoga practice. I was told about the book Zhuan Falun and that we would soon begin to read it together after doing the exercises. I went ahead and ordered a copy for myself.

While waiting for my book to arrive I decided to watch the lectures on my computer. Slipping away in the evening, I put my earbuds in and watched Lecture One.

I was fascinated. Never had I heard such things before. I found myself nodding and smiling. As time went on my jaw dropped then my eyes got much wider and I sat up straighter. I thought – Wow! This is not like anything I have heard or read about before. I was hooked. Every night after that – when it was possible – I once again slipped away and watched another lecture. This was what I was looking for, for so long, this was it, there was no turning back.

After I learned about the principles of Dafa – Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, I once again thought – easy enough. With the encouragement of another practitioner, it was not long before I began to study the Fa on a regular basis and read all the other Dafa books and lectures that were on the Dafa website. I was absorbing so much so quickly and enlightening every week. I gave up supplements, medicine, chiropractic and yes – even yoga. This did not happen all at once. It happened a little bit at a time. It seemed like every week there was more and more understanding. I wanted to write it all down, but there was just too much bouncing around in my brain every day to get down on paper.

One thing I noticed early on was that I could feel the energy like a gentle and low current flowing through my body. At first I only noticed it when I was reading Fa, or trying to recite Lunyu from memory, but more often, when I would still myself for a moment I could feel it. There were weeks when it was especially strong and when I was lying down felt as if I was on low vibrate. It encouraged me in my practice.

I did not have any earth-shattering events or healings, but I did feel like a different person in every way. I didn't talk to too many people about my practice. Because to tell the truth, I was still trying to wrap my brain around it all myself. And I sensed not to talk at too high a level. I did hear remarks from others such as: Don't those Chinese people think you're weird for hanging out with them? Why is that better than yoga? You just want to be Chinese – don't you? I said it was cultivation. Here in the West that is not a common term and I received blank stares. Then I would add, Falun Dafa is practiced all over the world now – not just in China. The blank stares turned into eye rolling.

I got involved more and more with activities promoting Falun Dafa such as parades and booths at community events. Quickly I became involved in Shen Yun promoting. I delivered flyers door to door, asked businesses to put up a poster in their window, worked ticket booths at events and in the mall. Then we would go to large firms such as lawyers and accountants and then universities. At first we were met with a bit of speculation, but since we had labels on every flyer for the people there, they accepted our flyers. Over the years they became much friendlier to us, saying, “Thank you I will be sure everyone gets one.” Soon everywhere we went, people smiled and were polite. Very seldom were we turned away. We knew Master was guiding us.

The years seemed to slip by quickly. More and more I felt a distance between myself and those who were not practitioners of Falun Dafa. And I could not imagine what my life was like before I realized I am a Dafa disciple. I know the Fa was always in me – waiting.

I became aware that there is much trying to interfere with my cultivation. I knew my difficulties in my lifetime were the result of karma from the past – long past. I understood I was going through tests and tribulations all the time. For a while there I became anxious – wondering what tribulation was next. With Fa study I came to understand that whatever it was, I could pass the test, because I am a Dafa disciple and nothing was going to interfere with me. Nothing would stop me. What helped me the most was consistent Fa study.

I began early on to read Zhuan Falun every day, and noticed an improvement in my understanding very quickly. Reading other Dafa books and conferences supplemented my studies, and to this day I study Fa every day. I read out loud with others most days and cannot recommend it enough.

I usually wake up with the phrase “Falun Dafa is good” and a smile on my lips, thinking: Bring it on! But some days I do not sound that optimistic! Besides trials and tribulations and a multitude of other interferences, I have attachments! So, so many attachments to let go of. Of course I have a magic trick: looking within. Not your usual – nothing up my sleeve – magic parlor trick! But it is magic and something I have to do all the time. And it is not easy, but you know what they say – practice, practice, practice. Some attachments I knew I had from the start – sentimentality, attachment to comfort and fear. What I did not realize was how many attachments I had that were hidden – deeply. And when they reared their ugly head I was shocked. How could I have that attachment? And just when I thought I was getting a handle on one of them, I discovered – I did not. I had layers upon layers to let go of.

I likened my cultivation path to that of a hiker's. The path changed all the time. Sometimes it was narrow, there were ups and downs, rocks to climb over, streams to cross. Sometimes it was stormy and all kinds of other obstacles lay in wait along the way, appearing when I least expected it. And more often than I care of admit, I found myself tripping and falling flat on my face. In the beginning it was startling and I was shaky. But I was always learning from Master's teachings. Don't just lie there – get up! Get up I did and kept on going. It has not been easy. Some days are extremely difficult. Those are the days I remind myself to smile when I do not feel like it, and to always remember that I AM A DAFA DISCIPLE.

There are no words to describe how fabulous that title is and no words to describe how honored I am.

I am grateful for all fellow disciples that I have known throughout my years of cultivation. Whether it was teaching me the exercises or reading Fa with me – from near or very far away. Maybe you helped correct an exercise movement for me when I was still learning. Perhaps you told me a story about the wonders of Dafa, encouraging me. Maybe we worked at an event together. Maybe you gave me dumplings for Chinese New Year. Perhaps we traveled to a Fa Conference together. Maybe because of a language barrier we never spoke but just nodded to each other or exchanged a smile. Maybe I was just encouraged by your presence and diligence. You know who you are and you all influenced me and had a part in my cultivation and I am grateful to you all – and to all Dafa Disciples. After all – we are ONE BODY.

The one true constant in my cultivation path of course is MASTER. Master is with me always. I feel Master's encouragement every day. It never seems enough to say thank you – two little words – but I have no other words. My gratitude goes way, way beyond words.

Thank you Master, THANK YOU !