Lawrence Journal World, Kansas, U.S.: Reflecting Their Inner Peace Outward (Photos)

Cat Rooney sees her spiritual practice, Falun Gong, as one that teaches high moral
standards and leads to overall spiritual and physical health.

She's never understood how Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, can be used
to justify torture and killings in China.

“This is a great practice; it makes
great people,” says Rooney, a Lawrence resident. “No torture or genocidal activity
is justified, but this one is so appalling.”

Rooney and a group of Lawrence
Falun Gong practitioners have embarked on a recent tour, going to Kansas towns
to teach people both about their self-cultivation practice and the atrocities
occurring in China.

The U.S.-based Falun Dafa Information Center says there
have been nearly 2,300 detailed accounts of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners
in China since 1999, and it estimates the true number of practitioners killed
is in the tens of thousands. In addition, the group estimates more than 100,000
practitioners have been detained, and some have been tortured.

“We want to
go out and tell the beauty of Falun Dafa to fellow Kansans and give them that
perspective,” Rooney says. “When they hear about the atrocities, they're
just as shocked as we are.”

Joyce Mitchell, of Baldwin, front, participates in a self-cultivation
practice called Falun Gong along with Sarah Woellhof, of Topeka, left, Adam Miller,
of Lawrence and Cat Rooney, of Eudora, in the courtyard outside the United Way
Building, 2518 Ridge Court. The group, which typically consists of 10 individuals,
meets three times a week to practice the meditative exercises. Falun Gong practitioners
have been tortured for their beliefs in China.(Photo by Nick Krug)

Mind and body

Falun Gong was founded
in 1992 in China but now has spread to all areas of the world.

It's a
form of qigong, a self-cultivation practice. But unlike most qigong practices,
it includes moral principles and studies that go beyond exercises and meditation.

In Lawrence, about 10 people gather three times a week to perform the exercises
and study the principles.

The exercises are meditative — both slow-moving
and static — and designed to open the body's energy channels and enhance
and purify energy levels, among other enhancements.

Meanwhile, the group studies
the three basic principles of Falun Gong: truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.

“It's things like thinking of others first and not fighting back, recognizing
things that make you sick, not being greedy or competitive or not seeking fame
and reputation,” Rooney says.

It's a practice that has found fans in

Falun Gong practitioners.

“I like the multiple facets
of it,” says Teri Leahy, of Lawrence. “I like the spiritual concepts and moral
values and the wellness benefits.”

Leahy says she thinks Falun Gong will become
more popular as it becomes better-known.

Dotty Puckett, of Baldwin, displays origami lotus flowers she made
with her daughter, Joyce Mitchell. The flowers are attached to bookmarks displaying
the tenets of Falun Gong: truth, compassion and forbearance.(Photo by Nick Krug)

“They've just got to hear about it,” she says. “They've
just got to learn. It's beautiful.”

On the road

And that's why some of the Lawrence Falun Gong practitioners, along with
others from Kansas City, started hitting the road last month, going to 16 cities
over a week to teach about the practice. They're planning to go to four other
cities a month in Kansas to continue the education tour.

They want to teach
both about their use of Falun Gong and the issues in China.

“Human rights
violations around the world are wrong, but this is near and dear to us because
we practice this,” says Joyce Mitchell, of Baldwin, who practices Falun Gong with
the Lawrence group. “This is a peaceful practice.”

Rooney, who is the local
coordinator for Falun Gong, says the practice has helped her health significantly.
She says more than five years ago, she was dealing with major adrenal and thyroid
gland troubles that caused her to move in with her parents.

Falun Gong, she
says, helped her regain her health and has helped in other aspects of her life.

“It's great to be well,” she says. “I used to be this type-A person.
How I interact with the world has seen a total turnaround.”

Rooney says she
isn't surprised the practice has developed tens of millions of followers
in less than 15 years.

“It spread like wildfire,” she says. “It has high moral
values. The benefits are for a combination of mind and body. It's a form
of self-improvement that fits very well in Western society.”

date: 22/Oct/2006

Original article date: 14/Oct/2006
Category: Media


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