Stumbling Upon a Treasure in the Mountains of Montana

At 68 years old, she seems to have unlimited energy. Katherine knows it is the power of Falun Gong and it is her great privilege to share this precious gem with others, which she was so fortunate to have found.

August 31, 2013 | By Emma Sage, Minghui correspondent

( By the year 2000, Katherine Combes had reached a point in her life where she wanted for very little. She had achieved much and grown as a person in her well-rounded career, which had involved being an executive secretary for several large companies, farming, and owning a restaurant, a fruit orchard, a retail store, and a bed and breakfast. She was happy in her newest job in airport administration.

Having recovered from the painful break-up with her husband of 22 years, which ended due to his unwillingness to give up his addiction to alcohol, she remarried a businessman with whom she had a great deal in common. They were a happy couple with a tight-knit extended family and lived in one of the most beautiful places on earth, the gateway to Glacier National Park in Montana.

 Glacier National Park, a short drive from Katherine’s home

When a friend invited her to attend a free seminar to learn Falun Gong, Katherine went along without giving it too much thought. She had studied Buddhist teachings as well as some metaphysics, and was fairly open to learning new things. Yet upon her first reading of Zhuan Falun, the main text of Falun Gong, many of the concepts were quite foreign to her, as she had almost no prior knowledge of Qigong. “I had doubts as to whether I could continue with this practice, but the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance resonated with me, so I kept going,” she said.

Now, nearly fourteen years later, Katherine looks back on her journey in Falun Dafa with deep gratitude for the still, small voice that compelled her to move forward in the practice, one day at a time. Though at times it felt as if traveling through a dense mountain fog, a deeper part of herself was fully aware that this was the path she had been seeking.

Diligence Pays Off

Although healthy throughout her life, Katherine suffered a neck problem brought about by whiplash from an auto accident in her early twenties. When it started to become chronic, she did a lot of yoga to alleviate the pain.

As soon as she started learning Falun Gong she came down with a severe cold. Katherine attended the next Falun Gong class, even though she felt terrible. The volunteer instructor was pleased that she attended despite her discomfort. He understood the common phenomena in which new practitioners experience illness symptoms as the body begins to be purified from the practice. Katherine was not aware of this, but when her chronic neck problem disappeared within less than a month, she realized this was indeed a powerful practice.

 With persistence, Katherine achieved the double lotus position.

Seeing positive results motivated Katherine, even when it came to attempting the double lotus position for the seated meditation. Despite the challenge her rigid legs presented, she practiced the meditation every day. “Each time I would inch a little closer. I kept it up even when experiencing moments of unbearable pain,” she explained. With this determination, she finally achieved double lotus after two and a half years. She encourages newcomers who have issues with flexibility, telling them, “If I can do this, so can you!”

Sharing Falun Gong with Her Community

Having benefited so much from Falun Gong, Katherine tries to find ways to share the practice with the people of her community. One thing she does is fold origami lotus flowers attached to a card with information about Falun Gong. “Though they are time-consuming to make, I feel gratified when I see how people cherish them,” she said. She has given out countless lotus flowers in her community. The shimmering flowers can be seen hanging in people’s cars and their workplace.

 Katherine answers questions for a visitor to her booth at the Northwest Montana Fair, August 14-18, 2013

Earlier this month, Katherine held a booth at the Northwest Montana Fair, a popular 5-day event which she has participated in each year for the past 10 years. “This year, many people showed an interest in learning Falun Gong,” she said. “It is such a good way introduce Falun Gong to the people in my community as well as inform them about the brutal persecution of Falun Gong in China.”

Greater Awareness about Falun Gong and the Persecution

Her experience at the fair has been different each year. During the first few years, she encountered people who didn’t understand and were skeptical about Falun Gong. Now Falun Gong has been widely accepted locally, and the community understands better what the practice is all about.

While interacting with people at the booth this year, Katherine encountered a wide range of perspectives. She met a young man from southern China, who was visiting and working for the summer in the local area. He told her that he was confused by news in China that claimed that Falun Gong practitioners had set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square. Katherine helped him understand that the “self-immolation” incident was in fact a hoax staged by the Chinese government. She showed him more information and websites on which he could watch the slow motion analysis of the China Central Television’s immolation broadcast to see for himself the evidence that it was fabricated.

Katherine was also encouraged to meet many people at the fair who were well aware of the persecution. One such supporter was a woman who reported the horrific atrocities of the Chinese regime on her blog. Another woman told Katherine that she was glad to see this important international issue being presented in their area.

Harmonious Marriage

Seeing how much time and energy Katherine devoted to the practice and raising awareness, her husband was worried at first that it would affect their relationship. However, the practice helped Katherine to become more considerate of his perspective, and if anything, it made them closer as couple.

 Katherine and her husband enjoy an evening visiting with friends who live nearby.

Katherine shared, “I realized that when my husband talked to me, many times I was not engaged, and my mind was on other things. This of course caused problems in our marriage, and I realized that I was not being very compassionate, nor a good marriage partner. When I made the effort to always pay attention when he was talking to me, and to try to see his side of a situation and stay engaged, everything changed. We now have a very harmonious marriage and rarely argue. We have a nice array of friends that we spend time with and he is respectful of me and what I’m doing.”

During the five days Katherine was away for the fair, her husband cheered her on and volunteered to water the garden and flowers for her. He remarked, “How do you have so much energy being gone all day and evening, and then you get up early to make our meals for the day before you leave?” At 68 years old, she seems to have unlimited energy. Katherine knows it is the power of Falun Gong and it is her great privilege to share this precious gem with others, which she was so fortunate to have found.