Healing Through Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance

For about four decades of her life, Jami Smith struggled to recall a moment when she felt genuinely happy.

She had a troubled childhood filled with abuse and harassment from the people she held dear. Since nine years old, she began experiencing chronic menstrual pains. Problems kept piling up as she grew older. At 40, her list of health issues grew so long that she says doctors gasped looking at her medical record.

She is a mother of six but barely had enough energy to take care of them. Migraines plagued her for weeks at a time, sometimes so severe that she would start vomiting as soon as she stood up. Her body would bruise easily even by simple things such as lifting a pot or crossing her legs. Supplements made her sick. Laying on her left side at night, she listened to her heartbeat. It was so weak that she more than once wondered if it would stop in her sleep.

Day after day, Smith dragged on. She got up early to make breakfast for the younger three children she was homeschooling and assigned them paperwork. Then, she would be right back to bed, wincing in pain.

It bothered Smith that she couldn’t sit up to take care of her loved ones and “be there for them.” She wondered if she had anything worth living for.

“At times, I would be in so much pain, I almost wanted to die. It was so miserable,” she told The Epoch Times. “I didn’t understand what was the purpose. I couldn’t take care of my family, so why keep going?”

Sitting on the bedroom floor one day, she cried out to the universe for help, to be a better mother, a healthy and happier person, and to make sense of the suffering in life.

“Why do I keep suffering like this? Why is life so hard for me? Why is my quality of life so miserable? I’m trying to be a good person. I have that wish to do that. But I didn’t totally understand how to do it,” she said.

The answer did come—although Smith didn’t know it immediately.

About a week or two after she made the plea, Smith stopped by a cultural event out of town, where her family was handed several lotus flowers and a flyer about Falun Gong, a spiritual practice involving a set of meditative exercises and teachings based on the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

First made public by Mr. Li Hongzhi in his hometown Changchun, a northeastern Chinese city, in 1992, Falun Gong quickly became popular in the country.

The flyer sat in Smith’s kitchen for months as she kept trying different healing methods, such as tai chi, although none had a lasting effect on her. In her continued search for a cure, she came across a video about the fact that Falun Gong, which was practiced by an estimated 70 million to 100 million in China, was being persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party.

Epoch Times Photo
Jami Smith meditates with her children in the front yard of their house in Springville, Utah, in May 2020. (Courtesy of Jami Smith)

Smith found the flyer that had been sitting there and recognized the name. The next thing she knew, she was reading a book explaining the principles of Falun Gong and trying out the exercises. In both, she says, she felt electricity going through her hands and arms.

“To me, that was something huge—a big recognition that this is something real,” she said. And all those times, “I continued to search not realizing what I was searching for was hanging in my kitchen.”

‘There Is an Answer to Everything’

If the life story for Smith, who now works in customer service from her home in Springville, Utah, falls on the more intense end of what most Americans have experienced—her quest for meaning in life is not.

A decade before Smith, in Sonoma County, San Francisco, Linda Campbell, an acupuncture therapist, first learned about Falun Gong and the persecution through a client. Then three years later, when she saw a Falun Gong meditation class listed in her monthly catalog, Campbell decided to check it out.

Campbell still remembers that community center classroom near her home looking out into an oriental-looking garden green with stones. After learning the exercises, the assistant there handed her Falun Gong, an introductory book that she finished within three days. She then read the practice’s main book, Zhuan Falun.

Reading through that text took a lot longer, but when she did, she was “just in awe.”

“The book covered so much,” she told The Epoch Times. “All my life I had been studying and looking into different kinds of metaphysical things” for answers about life and the universe, “and it was all in Zhuan Falun.”

It made her feel more solid and comfortable with life—as if she had “come home to something.”

“When anything comes up, I just know that there is an answer to everything and there is going to be a way through it,” she said.

Linda Campbell
Linda Campbell in her home garden in Sonoma County, Calif., on May 12, 2023. (Courtesy of Linda Campbell)

Saying that is easier for Campbell now than eight years ago, when an ordeal came and tried her for months.

It began with her neighbor asking to rebuild a shared, battered wooden fence. Campbell agreed to the plan and to split the costs, but the finished project vexed her: in place of the once-straight line was a crooked fence angling downward, looking clumsily out of place from her kitchen window.

To Campbell, who had worked from home most of her life and enjoyed visual harmony and balance, the fence was a constant source of irritation. She felt wronged and despondent, believing the builder and the neighbor had worked together to make her life miserable.

It took her about eight months to get her thinking around. Failing to persuade her neighbor to redo the fence; she came up with ways to get around it from her end: installing a custom-made window covering that can close in the middle to block view of the fence, and planting bushes around the fence to hide it.

Epoch Times Photo
The kitchen window looking out to the fence at Linda Campbell’s home in Sonoma County, Calif., on May 12, 2023. (Courtesy of Linda Campbell)

Once she stopped focusing on her own feelings, the fence ceased to be a problem. In the end, her neighbor declined to let her pay and covered the entire expense—which roughly came down to what she paid for the window covering.

“Everything just ended up seeming like it was such a small issue, there were solutions to all parts of it,” she said. “It wasn’t a big thing, and I had made it this huge, huge issue.”

If a similar challenge comes up today, Campbell has a different way to handle it. “It might bother me, but I would figure it out,” she said. “I would see if I was putting myself first or if I was thinking of others, and if I was just being selfish or attached to getting my own way.”


A month before the pandemic hit, Nick Haley, a college junior studying biomedical science at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, was considering dropping out of school.

Nick Haley
Nick Haley in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo., in May 2019. (Courtesy of Nick Haley)

Haley had gone on a cross-country road trip from Ohio to California the previous summer, traveling through snow-capped mountains and deserts to escape the world, hoping to figure out what he wanted to do with life.

Despite all the scenic attractions checked off his list, Haley felt the trip fell short of what he expected.

“I felt if I have this experience, I’ll feel fulfilled, but it was never quite as satisfying as I hoped it would be,” he told The Epoch Times.

Haley kept looking while not exactly sure what he was looking for. He looked into yoga, took a class on Buddhism, and read into stoicism and the Chinese classic text Tao Te Ching.

Then during that 2020 spring semester, the same week after he dropped out of school, a coworker introduced him to Falun Gong.

“It was almost like being plugged in,” he said, recalling reading a Falun Gong teaching for the first time on his phone. “It was really relieving and I felt like I just came up for air after being underwater for a really long time.”

nick haley
Nick Haley meditates in a park in upstate New York, on May 13, 2023. (Courtesy of Nick Haley)

Right from the second paragraph, he found an answer to his search.

“It’s all about working on your character,” he said. “It was just very clear that’s what it was all about. It was about working on yourself. And that was the purpose.”

In high school, Haley had felt disappointed when his religion teacher couldn’t explain why people suffer like they do if gods look after them. While still in grade school, Haley’s parents began a years-long divorce battle that left the two unable to be at the same events for years.

Haley had struggled to forgive both of his parents as he grew up. But since starting to practice Falun Gong, he said, his thinking flipped.

“I realized how difficult it was to change my own mindsets on things and my own imperfections, and that helped me let go of a lot of the resentment I had about my parents’ imperfections and about the mistakes they made,” he said, adding that pains like those had helped him become more empathetic toward others.

“It was almost like I needed to understand what suffering was to want to help other people,” he said.

‘This Is New’

While six months pregnant in 1997, Smith had been hit by a car while crossing the road. The car hit her in the back so hard that it threw her in the air. She came down landing on her tailbone. Smith’s baby—a boy—didn’t move for several hours after that, although he eventually came out unharmed. Smith, though, suffered serious lower back injuries that kept her in bed for weeks and gave her lasting back troubles. Her back hurt so much that at one point she fell to the floor in her kitchen, unable to move her legs.

That, on top of her other health problems, made learning exercises itself no small feat.

In increments of 10 to 20 minutes Smith did the Falun Gong exercises, working her way up until she was able to sit through a full hour of meditation with her legs crossed in a double lotus position. At times, she cried because “it was so painful.”

Jami Smith Moab Utah Sept 2022
Jami Smith with her children in Moab, Utah, in September 2022. (Courtesy of Jami Smith)

It took about a year for Smith to do the hour-long meditation. Around that time, while she tried not to think about her pains, it would occur to her from time to time that she no longer experienced the back pain and could sit with her children without feeling it a torment.

“It would just dawn on me: ‘Hey, I feel pretty good. This is new. This works,’” she said.

Other health issues also gradually melted away, and Smith found herself finally able to “be part of my family”: cook meals for them, laugh together, play games, and go out grocery shopping, something that used to give her anxiety.

Epoch Times Photo
Jami Smith with her children in May 2023. (Xiao Yuqing/The Epoch Times)

One consequence of the 1997 car accident was her fear of driving. If someone cut her off on the road, she would hold tight to the steering wheel in panic, terrified they would die. That fear dissipated as well.

Driving to Salt Lake City this past winter with four of her children, Smith was caught in a heavy snowstorm that led to many slide-offs. It was windy, the visibility was low, and the children were loudly arguing with each other. Smith, instead of panicking, suggested that the children could think about something nice they had done for each other.

“That changed the whole drive,” said Smith. “Everybody was happy the rest of the way.”

Smith surprised herself in situations like that by applying one mindset: “thinking more compassionately towards one another and reminding each other of that.”

“It’s one of these aha moments where I just go, ‘Wow, you know, I did that,’” she said, reflecting back. “I showed more compassion and it didn’t blow up, and it didn’t escalate into something that it wouldn’t before. That happens all the time.”

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) poses with Jami Smith and her children at an event in Herriman, Utah, in June 2022. (Courtesy of Jami Smith)

A Sense of Purpose

In midsummer of 2020, Haley decided to go back to school.

“I wanted to finish what I started,” he said. “I felt like I just needed to focus on that rather than trying to plan out my whole life.”

As a researcher and communications officer for Falun Dafa Information Center in New York, he credited his degree for teaching him the essential skills to do what he needs: diving into unfamiliar subjects without feeling daunted, but knowing that he can learn what he needs to know on the go.

He still enjoys having new experiences, but it’s no longer about the experience itself.

“It’s not like my happiness depends on it anymore,” he said. “It’s just an added life experience, like a bonus, rather than what gives my life meaning.”

Epoch Times Photo
Linda Campbell in her backyard garden in Sonoma County, Calif., on May 12, 2023. (Courtesy of Linda Campbell)

Campbell, now retired, recently went to an event in San Francisco celebrating World Falun Dafa Day, which marked the 31st anniversary of the faith being made public this year, as well as the birthday of Falun Gong’s founder, Mr. Li.

“I just feel like I have this wonderful family,” she said, adding that she felt “so joyful in kind of a quiet way” to know so many people—no matter where they are in life—are all “working hard to improve.”

“All this has just been such a wonderful thing in my life.”

And that fence? Bushy, silver-green shrubs have grown over it. “You wouldn’t even know that there was a fence behind it or that there was any issue at all.”

Source link