Students meditate using Falun Gong

Falun Gong focuses on truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.

Liala Helal

UCorrection: The Daily misreported how long the Chinese government has been persecuting Falun Gong practitioners. It has been persecuting them for six years. Also, the caption reported the wrong day the students were performing Falun Gong. They were performing the exercises Tuesday outside Coffman Union.

University student Jess McQueen said a new student group changed the way she thinks.

Before she joined Falun Gong Twin Cities Club, she said, she used to see “problems in everyone else.” The group practices the ancient Chinese exercise and meditation for the mind and body.

“Now, I see what I’m doing wrong and am a lot more tolerant of other people,” she said.

Every Thursday this semester, the group met to practice the art at the St. Paul Student Center.

Followers of Falun Gong learn from a book of teachings instructing how to improve daily life. It focuses on truthfulness, compassion and forbearance.

McQueen said the meditation has made her feel lighter, more energetic and less tired.

“I can tell that my body’s changed too,” she said. “When you clear your mind, your body is cleared of illnesses too.”

Falun Gong is practiced all around the world. It originated in China, but the country’s government has been persecuting practitioners for years, McQueen said.

“I want people to know that it’s a good practice and there is no reason for the persecution,” she said.

At an event Tuesday outside Coffman Union, the group tried to spread awareness of the persecution of practitioners in China.

“Today, we’re just trying to clarify the truth about the persecution in China,” McQueen said.

Some demonstrated the exercise, and many lotus flowers were displayed as symbols of purity and hope.

“The flower comes from the mud, but you know it’s still clean and nice no matter what’s around it,” group member Ming Wei said.

She said it is an analogy for people to know that no matter how bad things are around you, you can still be kind and compassionate.

Wei said that after she started practicing Falun Gong, her back pain disappeared.

The practice uses Chinese methods of “looking at our bodies as energy channels,” Wei said.

“There are so many acupuncture points, so when you have a problem, it’s probably coming from your energy channel,” she said.

The exercises have the person reach up to get energy through the fingertips and then through the rest of the body.

“When you get a cold, the main reason behind it is because the energy channel is blocked,” she said.

Ming Johnson, a University alumna, said persecution of practitioners has been going on for more than 60 years.

Wei said the Chinese government has also tried to negatively reflect Falun Gong in the United States.

She said the government uses methods to threaten people into giving information on who is practicing.

If a Chinese person’s U.S. visa expires, he or she might have to go back to China, which means he or she could be persecuted there. For that reason, “not everyone is brave enough to do it,” Wei said.

But she said Falun Gong has been a guide to her life and has made her not feel scared.

Wei said she’s too busy thinking about the well-being of others instead of herself. The three main concepts of the practice empower her over her fear, she said.

“Fear comes from caring about personal interests and selfishness, so no matter what, I will try to do more for others,” she said.