Calm Before the Storm
Hundreds of Falun Dafa practitioners gather to meditate and perform
exercises despite hurricane forecast.
world gather in New York City every year to share their experiences in
thepractice. (Amal Chen/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—Unmoved by hurricane warnings, more than 600 people filled a Central
Park lawn at West 86th Street on Saturday morning to practice exercises and
meditate. Cyclists, joggers, and people strolling by all paused to soak in the
atmosphere and watch the slow movements performed to traditional Chinese
“It seems they’re very much at peace with themselves. They are
very aware of themselves and what they’re doing. It’s relaxing,” said John, 83,
an Upper West Side resident who was walking his dog. “It looks like something I
could do. It’s not physically straining.
“It looks like something that
is here and here, I guess,” he added, pointing to his head and his
All of those gathered practice Falun
Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. Some dressed
casually, while many wore yellow t-shirts bearing the words, “Truthfulness,
Compassion, Forbearance,” the three
principles central to the ancient Chinese spiritual practice. The group moved in
near unison through a series of standing exercises.
“I think it’s very
calming and peaceful,” said Anke Schwarz, 33. “When you look at those people
they all seem very nice, friendly, helpful, and peaceful people. They have good
series of standing exercises. (Edward Dai/The Epoch Times)
traveled from Germany with her husband, Stefan Schwarz, who practices Falun Dafa. As her husband performed the exercises,
she looked on and took pictures. According to
Ms. Schwarz, there are people practicing Falun Dafa in most major cities in
“I think it’s a very good and harmless way of advancing
yourself,” said Schwarz.
Schwarz’s husband began practicing while they
were dating. She said that her husband became more thoughtful toward everyone
around him and more aware of the consequences of his actions.
Petition Signers Support
Dozens of passersby stopped to sign a petition requesting that New York Sens.
Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand co-sign Resolution 232. The
resolution, sponsored by New Jersey Sen. Robert Menéndez, calls to attention the
continued persecution of Falun Gong
practitioners inside China by the Chinese Communist Party. The resolution calls
“for an immediate end to the campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.” A
similar resolution passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 on a vote of
When the group finished performing the four standing exercises,
everyone sat down and crossed their legs. According to a Falun Dafa brochure,
the fifth exercise “refines both body and mind through deep tranquility.” Once
the meditation exercise was finished, people got up, gathered their exercise
mats, and set out on their way.
“Healthy as a Horse"
exercise “refines both body and mind through deep tranquility."(Amal Chen/The
“There are many benefits,” said Tatiana Bystritskaya, a
Falun Dafa practitioner from South Carolina. “To use a Russian saying, I’ve
become healthy as a horse. I used to be a very negative person. I grew up in
communist Soviet Union and was taught to criticize others when I was growing up.
Everyone was taught to look for the bad in others and criticize them. Our
Teacher, on the other hand, guides us to find the good in people. Only through
kindness can we approach any person.”
Russian was among many
nationalities represented at the group practice session. During the first two
days of his visit to New York, Frank Mendez, 42, a Falun Dafa practitioner from
California, said he met people from Romania, England, Canada, and Mexico
whopractice Falun Dafa. Mendez, a software
engineer for Cisco Systems, began practicing four months ago. Through the
practice, his lifelong allergy problem disappeared and he no longer needs to use
“I think it much better to do the exercises together,” Mendez
said. I thought at first it would be too much noise and hard to concentrate, but
it’s the opposite since, we all have a common purpose. We want to meditate.”
An estimated 100 million people practice Falun
Dafa worldwide. Practitioners from all over the world gather in New York City
every year to share their experiences in thepractice. All events are free of
charge, as are all Falun Dafa activities worldwide, according to a flier handed
It rained lightly for a few minutes while the group was
meditating. Otherwise, the weather remained as calm as those who defied the