In the last couple of decades, there has been an upsurge in the number of people turning to alternative therapies and different forms of meditation to reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Here is one group of Greek Australians who have taken on an ancient meditation practice that originated from China.
Hailing from Greece, Bill Thodori moved to Melbourne, Australia, in his 20s. However, sometime after his move in May 2002, Bill started to feel dizzy and his health started to deteriorate. Unable to find a cure for his unexplained illness, Bill was forced to give up his job.
Road to Recovery
After going through months of suffering, one day, Bill decided to contact a friend named Antoni, who was also from Greece and resided in Sydney. Bill then told him about his hardship he was going through. However, little did he know that the conversation would pave the way to something that would end up changing his life.
Bill was aware that Antoni practiced Falun Dafa, as he had tried to learn it before.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a meditation system based on the core moral teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. The practice has five sets of exercises, including meditation.
“I liked the things [Antoni] was doing and the way he was acting,” Bill said. “That got my attention. But due to my poor English, I could hardly understand when reading anything in the English language, or people talking in English, so I had to stop.”
However, this time, Bill decided to give the spiritual practice another try.
“Believe me, less than one month in, I can honestly say all my symptoms disappeared,” he told Neos Kosmos, a national Greek community newspaper in Melbourne.
However, Bill is not the first person who has experienced the spiritual and physical healing power of Falun Dafa, a discipline that was first introduced in China in 1992 and is currently practiced by over 100 million people worldwide. According to several surveys conducted in the past, many who practice Falun Dafa’s gentle exercises have experienced an improvement in their overall health and well-being.
For instance, a small-scale North American survey report conducted in 1999 in which 235 Falun Gong adherents participated found that 97 percent of them had their health improved after they took up the practice.
Mental Health Benefits
Apart from the improvement in physical health, Bill told Neos Kosmos that the practice helped boost his mental health and also elevate his moral character as he began to constantly strive to follow the teachings of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance in his daily life.
“Like the Ancient Greeks said ‘Healthy mind, healthy body.’ I believe the mind does a lot of things, major things,” Bill said. “With truth, compassion, forbearance, exercise, meditation, calming your mind everything is happier.”
To illustrate this further, Bill shared an example of how he used to be a “very, very edgy driver” in the past but it all changed after he took up this spiritual practice.
“A decade ago, I remember, I was driving and very calm,” Bill recalled. “It took me a little bit longer to go from A to B, but it felt like a very short distance. The day after, it clicked, and I realized that when I am calm and cool, even if takes me a long time, I feel like time is passing very quickly.”
Not long after he took up the practice, Bill’s colleagues and family started to notice the changes in him. Now, his entire family practices Falun Dafa, including his wife and two daughters, aged 10 and 13.
“I have two kids, and honestly sometimes it’s scary to watch the news; Falun Dafa is a kind of hope,” he said.
His oldest daughter, Violeta, told Minghui.org that through practicing Falun Dafa, she “learned to treat everyone with kindness” and would “never get angry.”
“I never say bad things,” the teen added. “My heart is very calm because I never hate anyone, which makes me different.”
In fact, the Thodoris are not the only ones who have credited Falun Dafa for changing them. Sofia, who also originally hailed from Greece and now lives in Australia with her husband, said the practice changed her from being a strong and aggressive person to one with patience. It also helped her to quit her gaming addiction.
Before practicing Falun Dafa, Sofia played computer games for up to 16 hours a day, according to Minghui.org. Despite wanting to give up her addiction, Sofia admitted she didn’t have the willpower to control herself. However, she stopped playing computer games shortly after practicing Falun Dafa.
“I played the games again after I started practicing Falun Dafa, but I found this time my addiction wasn’t that strong, and gradually I lost interest in them,” she said. “If I played again, I would feel a sharp pain in my eyes, and my body felt terrible. I decided to quit playing them altogether.”
Having benefited from the practice, Sofia told her family in Greece about it, including her father, whom she had not talked to for years after their parents got divorced.
“Our relationship has returned to normal,” Sofia said. “I have given up all the painful memories, and no longer hate anyone.”
Just like Sofia, who hoped her family could learn about Falun Dafa, Bill also aspired for his community to know more about the practice that has helped change his life.
“It’s about morality; basically truth, compassion, forbearance—imagine, you can’t get better than that,” Bill told Neos Kosmos.
“See when you think something is good, it’s selfish just to take and not to give.”