Inside Falun Dafa: How an American Boy Got Into Chinese Qigong
A Yankees fan on why he practices Falun Dafa
By Levi Browde
“To me, the books explain the principles of life, science and the human condition more clearly and in-depth than anything else I have ever read”
To begin with, let me introduce myself. My name is Jonathan (Levi) Browde.
I am an American, born and raised in the southwestern United States. Currently, I live in Manhattan. I work in the computer software industry and have a fairly wide circle of friends. I am a New York Yankees fan, listen to anything from Bob Marley to Bach, and have a soft spot for deep pan pizza.
And last but not least, I am a practitioner of Falun Dafa.
What is Falun Dafa?
Falun Dafa is made up of five exercises that span from slow-moving standing postures and stretches to sitting in meditation. On the surface, yes, it may look similar to tai-chi or yoga, but it’s actually much different. The system of movements is very easy to learn and doesn't involve any breathing techniques, mental exercises, strenuous motions, or complex postures.
Most importantly, it makes me feel better than any other exercise I've ever tried.
How do the exercises make you feel?
I'm sure most Americans are familiar with the feeling you get after a really good workout. Your body feels good, your mind is clear, and you feel ready to take on the world.
It’s a similar feeling after you practice the Falun Dafa exercises: your body feels light, healthy, and strong. Your mind is clear, calm, and focused.
I was always an athlete in school and stayed on a regular workout schedule after graduation. My routine included stair-master exercises, free weights, nautilus machines, and so on. However, my physical health and mental clarity from this routine have never even come close to the level I have achieved from Falun Dafa. The exercises of Falun Dafa have made me far more fit than any workout regimen I have ever tried.
After all, Falun Dafa has very ancient roots and is based on principles that are quite profound. So perhaps it’s not very surprising that the practice has the power to cleanse and uplift one’s body to such an extent. I have met many other practitioners who have also experienced this effect.
Is Falun Dafa just a set of exercises, then?
I view the set of exercises as merely one half of Falun Dafa. The other half fosters mental wellbeing by helping people improve their character and outlook on life.
Mr. Li Hongzhi (pronounced Lee-Hong-Jer), the man who first brought Falun Dafa to the public, has written two books that accompany the five exercises. The first book, Zhuan Falun, lays out the principles of Falun Dafa and is the most complete work of the practice’s teachings. Falun Gong, the second book, is more of an introduction to the practice and a demonstration of the exercises.
To me, the books explain the principles of life, science, and the human condition more clearly and more in-depth than anything else I have ever laid eyes on. Additionally, these books have done something quite remarkable. They actually play a guiding role for me on a daily basis, which is something that no other book—be it spiritual, religious, philosophical, self-help, you name it—has ever been able to do before.
I have read many great books before, from Jack Kerouac to Shakespeare, from Stephen King to Lao-Tzu, and many of these books did open my eyes to new vistas and new perspectives. But did they really change who I was? Did they really give me a way to become a better human being from the inside out—to truly rise above the fears, anxieties, self-doubt, ego, and greed that too often came with the human experience? In my experience, not really.
Zhuan Falun, however, was different. Studying the principles outlined in the book has helped me overcome these weaknesses again and again, pushing my moral character to new heights. This was a book that could genuinely change someone for the better.
Practicing the exercises and reading the book—is that all?
Well, yes, that is primarily what we do as Falun Dafa practitioners. You can do these things in your own way and according to your own schedule.
Some practitioners do the exercises and read by themselves in the privacy of their own homes. Others do so in a group setting. Some do the exercises in the morning, others in the evening, and still others whenever they have time in their busy schedules.
I know practitioners who are busy pursuing Ph.D. degrees, while others are musicians and dancers that have demanding tour schedules. They come from all walks of life and strata of society, but all of them find a way to make Falun Dafa work for their lifestyles. So, no matter what kind of life you lead, how you practice is really up to you.