“I never want to go through another endoscopy, even if I am facing death,” I told my son bitterly.
That was in 2013, at the height of my sadness and resentment about life being unfair to me.
I was 53 years old and underwent the exam after 10 years of seeking treatment for stomach pain without any success. I had already exhausted all avenues in an effort to find help, from Western as well as traditional medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine, other oriental therapies, and folk remedies used by the ethnic minorities in the southern part of my country, Vietnam.
But there was no cure and no relief in sight for me, even after having endured the endoscopy to examine my digestive system, which I found extremely painful. This was because I opted not to have an anesthetic for the exam due to my fear of anesthesia. I’d had an anesthetic for knee surgery three years earlier but still suffered from extreme pain afterwards.
I not only continued to suffer from stomach pain but also chronic pain in my right leg, which had persisted for decades due to a bad fall I’d had when I was 18.
I had undergone knee replacement surgery, in 2010, but my recovery took months and the pain in my right knee continued to plague me. Compounding my anguish was knowing that I had to undergo surgery again every 15 years to have a new artificial knee implanted.
I can’t adequately describe how miserable I was during that period of my life, but thankfully things are very different now.
I am happy to say that today, as a 58-year-old grandmother and a teacher who needs to stand for long periods in the classroom, I can now walk quickly and easily and can stand firmly, free from pain, and my stomach pains have subsided as well.
I like to think of the cold piece of metal in my knee as having finally “surrendered” to working with me, not against me, thanks to the fundamental shift I made in my attitude toward life and in becoming a better person.
I wish to share my journey of healing and transformation in hopes that people can benefit from what I have learned and have the chance to make their own way toward a bright future without pain and sorrow.
A Devastating Fall
I was born into a poor family in a rural area in war-torn Vietnam in 1960. My childhood years were filled with sweat, tears, and hardship, but I also have fond memories of some happy times due to the love I received while growing up.
Sadly, a severe fall when I was 18 would cause me much suffering for decades to come. I fell from a height of 8 meters and my right leg was broken.
In the hospital, my fractured thigh bone wasn’t set properly before a cast was put on, and the timing for removing the cast was also not optimal. From then on, I was unable to fully bend my right knee. Because of this I had trouble walking and carrying heavy things. I was in pain each time I moved my leg. This forced me to walk with a limp for many years.
I later completed training to become a teacher, but my condition meant that while giving lectures, I could only stand for about 15 minutes at a time before having to sit down to have a rest. My greatest wish was to be able to stand and walk normally like other people.
It was not until I was 50 years old, in 2010, that the option to have knee replacement surgery came my way. I had to undergo two months of hospital treatment before the operation, and the combined cost was US$2,600, many months’ salary for me.
Unfortunately, not only did the surgery take a huge toll on my body, but I continued to experience pain and discomfort in my knee. It took five months to learn to walk normally after the surgery, yet the pain in my leg persisted. Just the thought of having to go through the operation again in 15 years’ time and the difficult months of learning to walk afterward plunged me into a deep depression.
Adding to my suffering was the ever-present stomach pain. As a result, I wasn’t able to eat or sleep well for many years and was in low spirits all the time.
Plagued by constant pain, I couldn’t even imagine life being any other way, until one day heaven smiled on me and showed me a way to escape from my miserable condition.
Embarking on My Journey of Recovery
I remember vividly the moment I embarked on my journey of healing. It was one afternoon near the end of 2013, when one of my colleagues introduced to me a traditional Chinese practice for the mind and body called Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong.
My colleague told me that many people had found improved health and well-being after practicing Falun Dafa. The practice consists of meditative exercises along with moral and spiritual teachings from the Buddha School that are centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. My colleague recommended that I try doing the exercises and meditation and read Zhuan Falun, the main book of teachings.
I was immediately interested. As a Buddhist and a Vietnamese language and literature teacher in a school for gifted students, I had read many books over the years including those on spiritual topics and Buddhist principles.
After I got home I eagerly went to the falundafa.org website to look for the exercise videos. The exercises were easy to learn, and after doing them for the first time that day, miraculously I enjoyed a restful sleep that night without any pain in my knee. Indeed, it was my first good night’s sleep in decades.
Upon reading Zhuan Falun, the more I read, the more interesting I found it to be. The words are simple, yet the contents are profound.
The book, which emphasizes developing one’s inner wisdom and moral quality, answered many questions I had about life and helped me understand and appreciate the purpose and meaning of my own life. Despite the torment I had endured for so many years due to my health problems, I began to feel more peaceful and calm, with a sense of optimism for the future that I hadn’t felt in years.
Key to a Healthy Body
Shortly after I started doing the exercises and reading Zhuan Falun, I experienced another series of miracles: I stopped having stomach pains and my right leg was no longer as heavy as it used to be. I was able to go up and down the stairs easily, without having to drag my leg every step of the way. I also started being able to stand at the podium to teach for the entire class period without having to rest.
My health continued to improve along with my earnest efforts to improve my moral character. I realized that the long years of pain and misery had turned me into a self-centered and narrow-minded person, filled with resentment about my circumstances in life. With that recognition, I did my best to face troubles in daily life with a positive attitude of kindness and consideration of others. As taught by Falun Dafa, I strove to examine myself for answers to problems rather than look outward for solutions or to assign blame.
Changing old habits isn’t easy, but what I found helpful was remembering these words from Zhuan Falun: “When you take a step back in a conflict, you will find the seas and the skies boundless, and it will certainly be another situation.”
These words help remind me to maintain a calm mind and compassionate heart in daily life, giving me room to buffer amid challenging situations and encouraging me to look inward when problems occur and to take things lightly. Indeed I have found that these are some of the key ingredients to having peace of mind and a healthy body.
The Full Lotus
Another miracle that occurred was being able to cross my legs in the full-lotus position when doing the Falun Dafa sitting meditation. At first, even though I no longer had pain in my knee, the double lotus was impossible for me to do. However, I was encouraged when a fellow practitioner said to me, “With Falun Dafa, nothing is impossible.”
I practiced the exercises at the park with other practitioners, and gradually my faith strengthened. Along with that, my leg somehow relaxed, and after five months, I found myself able to sit in the full-lotus position. I gradually built up my endurance, and three years later I was able to do the sitting meditation in that position for an entire hour.
A Precious Gift
I am grateful to be able to say that I am now perfectly healthy. With my daily routine of doing the exercises and studying the teachings of Falun Dafa, I am able to take care of my family and fulfill my calling as a teacher.
I am also thankful for the health benefits this ancient practice brought to my uncle, whose chronic itching condition disappeared after he made steadfast effort to practice Falun Dafa.
Not only my health problems, but my old habits of blaming life for being unfair and holding onto grudges and bitterness are now far behind me. Falun Dafa and its principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance have truly transformed my body and soul. If I were not an “insider,” I might find it a miracle that’s hard to believe.
To me there is no gift more precious and sacred than Falun Dafa—a true path of goodness that has benefited me so much—so it is something I am enthusiastic about sharing with others.
I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to tell many people in my community about Falun Dafa. Many who have called me to ask me about the practice have gone on to experience for themselves the benefits that I have experienced. I am happy for them and look forward to having my story read by many more people so that they may also have the opportunity to learn about Falun Dafa and embrace its goodness in their lives.
Nguyen Thi Nhung lives in Vietnam.
Falun Dafa is a cultivation practice of mind and body that teaches truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as a way to improve health and moral character and attain spiritual wisdom.
For more information about the practice, visit www.falundafa.org. All books, exercise music, resources, and instructions are available free of charge.