“When I started practicing, my health changed. But inside I changed, too. I became a better person. That still carries.
When I come across things in my life that I’m not sure how to handle or if I become a little bit stressed about something, I find doing the exercises and reading has the same effect now as 16 years ago.
I can calm down and try to think from the other person’s perspective or find an area in which I can do better. That doesn’t change over time.”
May 14, 2014 | By Minghui correspondent Brianna Pendleton
(Minghui.org) The Parkers are among the thousands of families celebrating World Falun Dafa Day and joining the 2014 New York Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference this week. Having just celebrated the occasion in Toronto, Canada, over the past weekend, Christine Parker is finding the scale of the events in New York quite different.
“Here, there are people from Europe, from Taiwan, from all over the world. Everyone in their own areas have celebrated the occasion in different ways. But here, everyone is together.” She is looking forward to the activities the rest of the week: “A parade is one of my favorite things to be in, because no matter what projects people are working on, everyone comes together for a parade.”
Christine and her family at the World Falun Dafa Day celebration at Nathan Phillips Square outside of the City Hall in Toronto, Canada, on May 11, 2014. Front row from left to right: Lillian, Adam, Katie Parker. Back row: Christine and Drew Parker.
Mrs. Parker first came across Falun Dafa, an ancient meditation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, at the age of 18. She and her twin brother Jason, both in high school at the time, visited a health show in their hometown of Barrie in Ontario, Canada. As teenagers searching for natural health solutions, they visited every booth and took materials, until they arrived at the Falun Dafa booth.
“When we found the booth, we felt that we had found what we were looking for.
“I was immediately attracted by the practitioners’ demeanor. We heard the music and saw how peaceful the practitioners looked. They were wearing yellow outfits,” Christine recalls. “Right away, we said, ‘Let’s skip the other booths and just go straight to that one. What is that?’ We just went there right away.
“I was so surprised that they had driven an hour from Toronto to attend this event in my city. They just wanted to share Falun Dafa in case someone else wanted to benefit from it and learn it. To me, that was so touching, because everyone else there was trying to sell something. You know the practitioners are sincere. There’s no catch to this.
“We were very interested in learning the exercises. They told us it was free. You see the booth, the table, everything set up, and yet it’s free. You understand that they are not being paid for any of that. You know everything is just coming from their hearts. All they want to do is to share the practice with others.”
Prior to meeting Falun Dafa practitioners at the health show, two things happened within a month that got Christine thinking about life.
Christine’s uncle didn’t show up at work one day. Her family got a phone call at the house because he wasn’t answering his phone. Christine’s mom and brother went right away to go check on him.
Christine had lessons to go to that night. She thought he was probably fine, maybe just not feeling well. She was 18 and didn’t have a car. Her Mom and twin brother Jason were gone for a long time. They didn’t have cell phones then, so she didn’t know what was going on and started to worry.
She eventually called a friend of hers who had a car. She drove Christine over to her uncle’s, and they found out that her uncle had died in his home.
“I felt so bad that my concern for him was so shallow. I was more worried about things I had to do. So I felt horrible after that; that’s not how people should be.” Christine says.
About a month later, some friends were graduating from high school. Christine and Jason were in the 12th grade. Students graduated from high school in Ontario after completing grade 13 in those days. Jason and Christine were twins, so they had the same friends.
The teenagers took a couple of canoes and paddled to an island. They camped out over the weekend, one last get-together before everyone started going in different directions.
As they were sitting around the campfire that night, embers flew out of the flames at a friend’s feet. Right away, Jason jumped up to protect her. He didn’t think of himself at all. He just jumped up and covered her feet.
Christine was deeply moved: “When I saw that, I cried. It really hit me: he didn’t think of himself. He just jumped up to help someone else. Everyone thought that I was crying about my uncle. Jason came over and gave me a hug. I whispered to him: ‘This is how people are supposed to be! You’re not supposed to think of yourself. You’re just supposed to do something for other people without even considering what effect it has on you.’
“All these things were happening, and we were starting to change the way we were looking at things: just wanting to be good people.”
“It’s OK to Be a Good Person”
As a teenager, Christine was subject to a lot of peer pressure. She felt that there wasn’t much meaning in the things she and her friends were doing–they did the same things every day. Most of it was just socializing and hanging out or going to parties.
“It’s hard to find sincerity today. When I think of my high school years, I don’t think it was a very happy time in my life. When I came to the Falun Dafa booth, I could see that they were nice people I could trust.” The sincerity of the Falun Gong practitioners left Christine with a deep impression.
“When we expressed interest in learning the exercises, they explained that a lot of people in our city wanted to learn, so they planned to set up a practice site. We planned to attend right away. The practitioners drove from Toronto to Barrie every single weekend. Some of them came for a whole year, every weekend, and helped us start a group in Barrie.
“I felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders. I felt that I didn’t need to worry so much about what people thought of me anymore or about all those mind games and all that pressure teenagers put on each other. Teenagers can be quite mean to each other sometimes.
“Falun Dafa helped me adjust things inside my heart and mind. If someone mistreated me, it was OK, I could let it go. Before, I always felt so tense. Sometimes I would look down and see that I was squeezing my hand without realizing it. I just had that kind of tension all the time.
“I realized it’s OK to be a good person. That’s something I really struggled with in high school, because sometimes I would not want to do something wrong, but I really got teased: ‘Oh, such a Goody Two Shoes.’ It was OK to do the right thing, but I always got told that it was wrong.
“One thought I remember having after reading through the book Zhuan Falunwas: ‘It’s OK to be a good person! Oh, good, that’s right! I knew it. Everyone told me that it was wrong. But no, it’s right! It’s OK.’ I just felt so relieved: the truth is good.”
Christine recalled her mother’s perspective of her teenage years: “My mother always said that when Jason and I were teenagers, she could tell that we didn’t want to be a part of the wrong things going on around us, but that was just what was happening around us. And we just thought that that was all there was to life. We just went along with it, going to do this and going to do that. But she said that we never felt comfortable in those kinds of situations. We never felt that we were happy to be a part of it, but it was what everyone else was doing.”
The Benefits Are Still Going Strong
When Christine and Jason started practicing Falun Gong, their father thought that it was probably something that they would try out, like a new sport or activity. But after so many years, he recently said to her, “I guess this isn’t something you are just trying out anymore.”
“Nothing has changed. When you find something this good, that won’t change. It’s not a temporary thing,” Christine said with a smile.
Christine has been married for almost 11 years and has three children, Lilly, Katie, and Adam. “When I started practicing, my health changed. But inside I changed, too. I became a better person. That still carries. When I come across things in my life that I’m not sure how to handle or if I become a little bit stressed about something, I find doing the exercises and reading has the same effect now as 16 years ago. I can calm down and try to think from the other person’s perspective or find an area in which I can do better. That doesn’t change over time.”