Jeanne Mitchell, the 67-year-old athlete who placed third in the annual Ironman Triathlon, held in New Jersey, in the 65-69 age group, revealed how she challenged her will and physical endurance to the max in 2018.

Born into a wealthy New York family, well-educated and with an ideal home, she fell victim to an insurmountable depression that forced her to be hospitalized for weeks, according to international media, on April 5. 

Medicine was unable to help her effectively. It was not until 2003 when she began practicing the ancient Chinese discipline of Falun Dafa, that she began to feel meaning in life and relief, Mitchell explained.

She said, “In the past, my immune system was very weak, and I often caught the cold and had fevers. After I began practicing Falun Dafa, I became healthy almost overnight.” 

She added, “I found what I was seeking when I learned Falun Dafa,” a statement corroborated by her husband, who witnessed how she learned to overcome the conflicts in her life. 

Her attachment to the Falun Dafa discipline was such that she learned Chinese to read the main book Zhuan Falun, the original version that teaches her to practice Truth, Compassion, and Forbearance. These universal principles underlie the movement. 

Sports had not been her favorite pastime, but now she had a cause. She wanted to expose the persecution that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had perpetrated against Falun Dafa adherents in China for nearly 20 years.

So she trained for eight months until she finally managed to stand out from the 1,000 participants to wear a T-shirt with the sign “Freedom for Falun Dafa” on it. She hoped that such visibility would bring some relief to fellow Falun Dafa practitioners who were suffering all kinds of abuse and torture at the hands of the CCP. 

The impact of her feat indeed carried the message to many of her social media readers, some of whom wanted to follow the same spiritual discipline of Falun Dafa. 

There are many stories of overcoming physical limitations, illnesses, and addictions, among other problems, by followers of the ancient spiritual tradition. Huang Dengbao provides one example, a semi-trailer driver who risked his life on the job several times due to excessive pressure. He took up smoking and became addicted to cigarettes and betel fruit, which led to deteriorating health.  

After following Falun Dafa’s exercises and meditation system, he gained enough control over himself to overcome his vices. His improved health and control inspired his friends, who also took up the practice. 

However, brutal persecution and atrocities against Falun Dafa practitioners and human rights lawyers dedicated to defending victims of persecution persist.

For its part, the U.S. State Department has denounced the abuses committed by the CCP against spiritual minorities and Falun Dafa followers.

The most recent was in its annual 2020 Human Rights Practices Report produced during the Trump administration.

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