Sunday, August 27, 2017
Successful businesswoman felt empty inside, but then she found a simple meditation that changed everything
At some point in life, every human being confronts the fundamental questions of their existence: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life?
As an Assyrian born in Jerusalem, naturally my environment led me to these questions. Yet I could not feel satisfied with the answers I received, even though I went to a faith-based school run by German nuns, where religion was a regular topic of study. The guidance was vague and abstract, and I was looking for concrete spiritual facts. I had a stubborn feeling of emptiness and questioning inside that could not be resolved.
In 1970, I forgot these questions for a while as I moved to the United States with my family, due to escalating conflict in the Middle East. I finished college and began working my way up in the business world in New York. By 2001, I had become a successful businesswoman, working for a prominent financial institution in the World Trade Center.
I knew that on the surface it seemed I had it all. Yet, I always felt something was still missing; that there must be something more. I wanted to know the truth, so I decided to continue on my spiritual journey with determination. Yoga was my next attempt at answers.
Yoga gave me better health, and it soothed my spirit temporarily, but it couldn’t answer my deeper questions. Worse, due to the intensive yoga training—sometimes up to six hours a day—I hurt my knee badly and had to have surgery. After the surgery, I was devastated when my doctor said I had to stop doing yoga and crossing my legs in meditation. I felt like I had put in so much effort, and it had gotten me nowhere.
One day on the way to the office, still feeling pain from the surgery, I was struggling to overcome my feelings of hopelessness. I felt trapped by the restrictions of my injured body.
“What is the point?” I thought. “My life is empty, my body is broken, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Just then, something on the ground in front of my office building caught my eye. It was a flyer describing a meditation practice called Falun Gong—a self-cultivation practice rooted in traditional Chinese culture. I read the introduction and thought to myself, “This might be what I’ve been looking for.”
I dialed the number on the flyer and found out that a Falun Gong practitioner lived nearby and would teach the exercises of the practice at his home for free.
I found a copy of “Zhuan Falun” online, which described the principles and practice of Falun Gong. To my surprise, I couldn’t put the book down. The guiding principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, the evolution of the universe, the relationships among all things—all of it resonated with me. I couldn’t believe that the book could answer my questions. It was so profound, yet simple and straightforward.
When I did the Falun Gong exercises and meditation the first time, I felt a strong energy surge throughout my body. “Wow,” I thought. I couldn’t believe how strong the energy felt, and could also sense a field of light. I was surprised and excited and could hardly believe what was happening, yet deep down I felt calm and happy.Nadia Ghattas at a Falun Gong event in New York | Courtesy Nadia Ghattas
Since the day I found the flyer on the floor, 16 years have passed in the blink of an eye. I am 62 this year, but people around me often say I look younger. It is hard to describe the physical and mental benefits I have received from following this spiritual path.
Shortly after practicing Falun Gong, the pain from my knee surgery disappeared and it no longer felt weak and fragile. I could sit in the full cross-legged position for an hour.
Before, I had many problems with my teeth. I had to go to the dentist to get deep cleaning regularly to save my teeth from falling out. The dentist tried to convince me to have gum surgery or risk losing my teeth. But after I’d practiced Falun Gong for three months, my gum disease disappeared. My dentist had said if I didn’t have my teeth pulled then I would lose them all within 10 years. In 16 years, I have had no problems. Now, every time I go to the dentist, he is amazed and says, “Your teeth should be gone by now.”
These physical changes were relatively minor compared to the changes in my character. Soon after I started practicing, for the first time, I had the feeling of being whole and complete; the nagging emptiness was gone. Many people commented that I had changed a lot. My coworkers and clients said I looked different, that my face looked different—more peaceful and relaxed. The tension was gone.
They would say, “I want to do whatever it is you’re doing.” Some of them said they liked to be near me, and made an effort to spend time with me because they said it made them feel more peaceful.
I used to be very judgmental and couldn’t tolerate other people’s faults. Now, I have become more patient and understanding and started to resolve some long-existing conflicts. In the past, I felt very angry towards my father, and we didn’t speak for over 25 years. Before he passed away, we reconciled. When I forgave him, I felt real harmony in my heart. The sense of peace and forgiveness was so profound to me, I didn’t think I could ever achieve such a reconciliation. It was a wonderful feeling.
In my field, many people will do just about anything for money. I used to think that a person had to strive tirelessly to make money and compete with others to claim their position in this world. But now I have changed my mind completely.
I have come to believe that I will receive what I deserve in life—no more, no less. It is a principle of Falun Gong: there is no need to doggedly pursue success; as long as you are conscientious and perform your work righteously, the results will come naturally. If I can focus on my work and be honest and considerate, then, without pursuing, I can win customers that others cannot. The sense of peace from living by this principle makes me feel joyful and relaxed.
In business, it’s common for people to strategize and try to manipulate others for their benefit. In meetings or when making deals, there can be many mind games. But I am able to keep calm at those times. Many people have said that they want that ability, too, and have asked me how I do it.
My customers know that the guiding principles of my life are truthfulness, compassion, forbearance, and they know I will not cheat them, so they like to do business with me. In this way, without harming others or my own conscience, I have found professional and financial success. At the same time, I take material success more lightly and care less for accumulating possessions than I did in the past.
The past 16 years have been an incredible journey, and I am so grateful to finally have discovered the path my soul was searching for.