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Finding Your Peace During COVID-19

In this Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope to help support our health providers and share how I found some stress relief myself.

By Anne Yang, Neighbor
May 28, 2020 12:44 am ET

On Apr 26, Dr. Lorna Breen, originally from Virginia and a top ER doctor working in a New York hospital treating COVID-19 patients, committed suicide. She was suffering from work related stress. Dr. Breen had also contracted COVID-19. After Breen’s death, her sister set up a website to raise awareness and support medical providers. Breen’s sister told NBC, “I know my sister felt like she …couldn’t stop working. And she certainly couldn’t tell anybody she was struggling. And that needs to be a conversation that changes. People need to be able to say they’re suffering and to take a break.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. By remembering Dr. Breen’s story, I hope we remember her as a hero, and more importantly, that heroes also need support. Stress is an issue everyone of us has encountered.

When I was 14 years old, I took a three day long high school entrance exam in China – one test in the morning and another in the afternoon, each two hours – all together six tests covering six subjects. I was aiming for the best high school in town which had extremely competitive entrance criteria. Those who knew me assumed I would just sail through as a top student and no one seemed to understand that top performers were more prone to higher stress because they set a high bar for themselves. Those three long days turned out to be tough, harrowing and exhausting. For the first time in my life, I could not fall asleep. My body and brain seemed to have switched off the function of sleep and focused only on the exams. Luckily, I survived the hellish three days and nights, made good scores and did go to the best high school. But that sleepless experience awed me with the realization of how full of suffering human life could be. I started to harbor a secret wish from then on, that one day I would find a solution to these worldly sufferings and gain peace for my soul.

Before the Communist Party took over China in 1949, traditional Chinese culture was full of wisdom for attaining peace and serenity. Some may see it as religion. I tend to think it is more like a wisdom of life, a philosophy or way of living. It has a generic term – “cultivation practice.” It left footprints through ancient Chinese poetry, calligraphy, painting, crafts, medicine, worshipping, political affairs and historical records. In short, every aspect of Chinese culture was infused with “cultivation practice.” Yet, due to the Communist Party’s all out war against traditional Chinese culture, my generation, which was born at the end of the Cultural Revolution, largely lost the connection to this tradition.

I tried a little bit yoga, and picked up Taichi when I was in college. Then I came across Falun Dafa. “Thank God,” I thought. I found the solution I began dreaming of when I was a sleepless 14 year old.

Today, half a world away from China, I now host free meditation classes to introduce Falun Dafa online during this “stay-at-home” period. Otherwise the class is at a local library. The meditation is a great way for dealing with stress, it offers deeper wisdom, and things learned are something a person can take with them anywhere. Through Falun Dafa I found an inner moral compass that helped me navigate through life and pass through difficult times of stress or hopelessness. I now hope this online free class can help anyone who wants to find his or her peace: