Table of Contents
1. Introduction – extreme addiction and suffering
I was born in 1970 in England to a middle-class family and had an older brother. My parents both suffered from alcoholism, but managed to function enough to be able to work and provide material things for the family. They did the best that they could do, but suffered emotionally and so didn’t have much of themselves to give to us children. We suffered some emotional and physical neglect. When I was 7 years old, my grandmother, who also suffered from addictions, gave me my first alcoholic drink and a vallium, a strong sedative, before visiting the dentist to have most of my teeth extracted because of tooth decay caused by a poor diet and neglect. The dentist was unaware of what I had been given and put me under a general anaesthetic.
My mother was a nurse, but still allowed me to have the sedative and alcohol. They found it difficult to bring me back to consciousness and I could have died. I started to self-harm at this age. I used to secretly break my bones with a heavy object and never had an appetite to eat. I lived in fear at home from my father’s unpredictable moods and was disturbed by his constant bullying of my brother and mother. Despite this, I got most of my affection from my father and as a consequence, I was spared from some of his rages. I used to try and behave in a way that made him happy and sought his approval constantly. My parents used to send us to bed very early, and my father would smack me most nights as I was meant to be quiet in bed.
I learnt to read and write when I was 4 and used to sit in bed and read bedtime stories to my brother. As we got older, we grew close as every night we would talk to each other about how our day was. I think we tried to emotionally support each other. We were badly behaved at school and used to get into trouble, but our parents never gave us any boundaries. We just got punished and they in turn blamed the teachers.
When I was 15, I began to drink alcohol heavily and my extreme addiction started. We had my 15th birthday party at our home. My parents went out. I jumped on to a friend’s back, but a knife was sticking out of his pocket and it stabbed me and I bled. My brother laid me down and didn’t call an ambulance as he was afraid of what my dad would do. I prayed to God not to die. My mother returned and didn’t take me to hospital; she was too angry and worried about her reputation as a senior nurse. As a result, the wound bled at school and they took me to hospital. This neglect went uninvestigated because of my mother’s status.
My brother died of leukaemia when I was 17 and by this time I was drinking heavily, 25 units of alcohol 4 nights per week. Extreme addiction progressed and soon I was drinking almost daily. I went to study to be a nurse when I was 20. During this time I was drinking every night. Bad consequences of this extreme addiction were happening. I escaped a sexual attack late at night. I was trapped and then prayed to God for help and so found a way out.
My drinking steadily increased. I couldn’t finish my nursing course as my health deteriorated due to extreme addiction. I had gastro bleeding and fear of everything had taken hold. I returned to the family home. I continued to drink and go out at night until late. I had dysfunctional relationships with boyfriends.
When I was 22 years old, I found drugs. I took ‘ecstasy’ (MDMA drug) tablets and ‘speed’ (Amphetamine) to start with. I would go out on Friday and stay up all weekend. I went to exclusive parties and nightclubs and valued only money, sex, expensive clothes and good looking men who could accompany me and pay for everything. I had various jobs where I got paid for my appearance, anything from doing TV commercials to promotional modelling. This paid me well but launched my ego into huge proportions. It made me believe that money was going to make me happy, while in actuality I was going through extreme suffering.
When I was 24, I was in Ibiza (an island in Spain) on holiday and met a man who was to be my fiancé. He was American. He lived in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. I moved out there and didn’t have to work. He didn’t either as he was from a wealthy family. I began to drink alcohol daily and take cocaine and smoke crack (cocaine that can be smoked). I lived a lavish and hedonistic life along with extreme addiction. Money was no object and society there was so corrupt and dysfunctional that I detached from reality. There was a moment when I had been awake on drugs for a few days and I was alone in the hot tub outside overlooking the hills as the sun came up. It was at that moment that I felt distressed because I had never felt so empty and unhappy as I realised that money wasn’t going to fix me. My relationship broke down after 2 years and there was much pain and extreme suffering.
I left USA to return to England. I kept drinking and taking drugs. Extreme addiction was getting out of control but my parents never commented. They drank with me every night. My grandparents, 16 year old cousin, other relations and my mother all died in the interval close to each other. I couldn’t cope and ended up in the same hospital where they were dying. I felt suicidal.
2. Prayer acts as a saviour lifeline
I prayed to God while crying in the shower to help me in the hospital ward and remove the extreme suffering. A man who appeared to be a patient started a conversation with me. I told him how I felt. He talked to me and made me feel calm and said everything will be okay. He came another day to talk to me. I went up to the ward where my mum was dying and he appeared again. When she died, I went to thank him as he said he was on the same ward. No one had heard of him and no one had seen him. He had bright eyes and it felt like I knew him. Then I realised that this could have been some spiritual experience. I met other people who came and stopped me from killing myself after this time. I only knew it when they left.
While I was dancing in a nightclub, on a high wall, I fell and cracked my head and was rushed to hospital. I also had taken an accidental drug and drink overdose at the same time and survived. I have been in a couple of bad car crashes where they had to cut me out of the car and I walked free from injury. I accidently overdosed from drugs a few times and survived. Doctors were baffled by this. I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for 2 weeks when I was 28 as I wanted to die. (Editor’s note: A person has three possible times of death, probable death, death and definite death.)
All the time I was moving from one relationship to another, moving to different cities where the partners lived. My drinking and drugs continued and my self-esteem got worse. My father quickly remarried, after my mother died and kicked me out of the family house. I had nowhere to live and no money, so I became a lap dancer. I worked in Lanzarote (island in Spain), Tenerife, London, Iceland, Japan and Australia. I became spiritually bankrupt.
I met my husband back in the UK while I was on a work break, got pregnant and soon after married. I had to stop drinking as I was pregnant. It was difficult and I was having panic attacks. My husband was emotionally unavailable as he was stoned every night. The baby was born and I began to drink again and take drugs when the baby was asleep. I was 32 when my life/emotions became unmanageable and I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous due to my extreme addiction.
I began to pray every day and made contact with God to reduce extreme suffering. My marriage broke down. I couldn’t relate to my husband and he got us in debt and kept smoking drugs. After 8 months, out of the blue, I began drinking again and got back with my husband. We inherited a large sum of money and that meant we could take more drugs and drink and buy a house. But we didn’t get along.
I continued to pray and help others as I never lost what I had learnt in Alcoholics Anonymous. I went out one night when I was drunk and a man put drugs in my drink and raped me. I just blocked the whole incident out.
I got pregnant again with my husband and while I was 17 weeks pregnant, I suddenly got pain in my hips. Soon I couldn’t walk and was in an incredible amount of pain and extreme suffering every minute of the day and night. It made me cry constantly and pass out when it got intense. I had terrible morning sickness too and vomited constantly. It was hot weather and I became dehydrated but I didn’t care as I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband carried me to see the doctor and he said my heart is under strain and I felt like I was dying. I went to hospital and they treated me and gave me very strong opiate drugs for the pain. These didn’t take the pain away totally, just took my mind away from it. A few weeks later, I lay in bed in more pain and prayed to God to help me. In my mind’s eye, my head filled with a bright light and I asked it to heal me. The pain and extreme suffering stopped while I had the light in my head.
Every night for the next 2 years, I prayed and the light would come into me and fill my body. That was the only time I was pain free. I still couldn’t walk or sleep and was in a wheel chair taking more and more painkillers. I went to see a reiki healer and she said I had a thick band of black energy over my hips and womb. As she worked on me, I felt incredible fear and saw many visions of serpents and a phoenix rising. (Editor’s note: When snakes are seen, this usually indicates severe ancestral problems.) I began to cry and release the pain.
I split up with my husband as he had become abusive and I suddenly had the courage to leave him. I believe God gave me the thought to get up and walk and use the crutches to support me. I ignored the pain and very slowly each day I began to walk, and then run, and my body recovered.
I continued to drink, but less. During a very short time period, I had a tumour removed from my back, suffered a miscarriage, nearly lost my home and I went out on a date and the man raped me – it took me to a rock bottom. God gave me a thought and I took myself off the opiate drugs and gave up alcohol and cigarettes.
It took me 3 months and it was a painful process. I realised I had an extreme addiction problem and returned to Alcoholics Anonymous. I kept praying and sitting in God’s light every night. I become curious as to what this energy was.
3. Finding SSRF
My spiritual practice began in April 2011. I came across the SSRF website after searching for an explanation to experiencing warm white light while meditating. As soon as I began reading the words on the website I experienced Divine Consciousness and had a feeling that I had come home. I read it for 4-5 hours per day and couldn’t stop emailing questions that arose to the login feature on the site, as I was trying to comprehend the content.
That moment was a turning point in my life as I began to follow advice and do the Shri Gurudev Datta chant for about 2 hours a day for the first week and then when I learnt that I could do it while I was doing all the other duties in my life, I did it all day.
God immediately moved the chant from my head to my heart. I was blessed with spiritual emotion and as this increased, so did my desire to chant. On awakening in the morning, I surrender myself and ask God to direct my thinking. I ask Him to remove all obstacles from me as I carry out His will. I ask for His direction and His intended plans for the day and tell him that I love Him and will watch out for His gentle emotion that He gives me to tell me if I am carrying out His will. I thank Him for gracing me with His presence.
4. Daily spiritual practice
My daily routine in spiritual practice was like this: I did the Shri Gurudev Datta chant for 20 minutes followed by the salt water remedy to reduce the negative energy/ancestral ghost and start my day by waking the children. I used to set my alarm clock to enable me to do this discipline part of my spiritual practise to plan. I continued to do the Shri Gurudev Datta chant and surrender myself in prayer regularly to ensure that my mind and intellect is free from my will. At 2 pm, I prayed and thanked Lord Datta for allowing me to chant and then I would say namaskar to Lord Krishna and ask if I can do the Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya chant and do that until bedtime.
My sons also did the salt water remedy daily. I would do the salt water remedy again before bed and pray to God in thanks for allowing me to be with Him all day and that I have been given a chance to grow spiritually. I also prayed through the day to check on my motives for doing anything and check for God’s will and say sorry for any mistakes I make – as my daily introspection. I tried to stick to this daily plan but due to negative energy distress and the fact that I am human and imperfect, I didn’t always keep up the chanting constantly. The point is that I did it to the best of my ability as this is my primary purpose of life. I love God. After 1 week of this spiritual practice, while driving the car, I felt a wave of what I felt was like pure love floating upwards like a soft breeze and as I thanked God, it continued – later I learnt that this is spiritual emotion.
5. First year of spiritual practice – perseverance
It was decided that a guiding seeker would be assigned to me and I would attend public Satsangs each week. During the first months, I experienced a fight between negative energies and myself but persevered. At the time, my children were very young and I was a single parent with many emotional and psychological issues due to severe destiny and ancestral problems, so to be released from the constant fear and extreme suffering that I was used to, was an immense experience, however fleeting at the time. I felt happiness and freedom that I’d never experienced in my life and understood what love felt like for the first time. I spoke to the guiding seeker on Skype every 3 days for him to support me through the rapid changes, the experiences and remedies to help with distress that came.
I imbibed the start of many qualities such as a fighting spirit, obedience, surrender to God and a deep faith that God is there to protect and teach. I began to have periods of peace and people around me noticed this, asking me why I look so happy. I freely shared about chanting and God and offered to answer any questions they had while going home to browse through the SSRF website and ask my guiding seeker for an answer. During this first year, I asked God to put chanting over my heart so that my mind was free to do spread of Spirituality and there it remained ever since. My yearning to progress was strong and still remains so. (Editor’s note: When a seeker has intense desire to realise God, God helps with overcoming even severe destiny.)
6. Second year of spiritual practice – spiritual experiences
Soon I began attending a Satsang with other SSRF seekers from England. We were guided together during weekly Satsangs. We began the Personality defect removal process where we began to look at our mistakes and do autosuggestions. This process was painful to start with but the benefits far exceeded this. Awareness of my personality defects increased and I could see for the first time why I behaved/thought like I did. God changed and lessened these personality defects and as a result, worldly life slowly began to get easier. My problems were mostly of my own making due to defective reactions of my mind resulting in negative reactions/action. Longer periods of peace began.
I began to do more sit down chanting with concentration and more of spiritual healing remedies to protect myself from negative energies. My relationship with my sons became closer and full of love as we began spiritual practice together and I passed on all that I learnt on a daily basis. I still had to undergo destiny in the form of illness and financial issues but all were shortened and severity lessened due to doing spiritual practice. As time progressed, I began to sleep through the night and an increased ability came to accept destiny, so happiness was maintained to a much greater level than before.
That year I was graced to be able to attend an SSRF Seminar in England with other seekers. Her Holiness Lola Vezilić was guiding us and this experience increased my yearning to put even more efforts in spiritual practice. I saw coloured Divine particles appear on my body to help me and then a peacock feather lay on my doorstep when I returned from the SSRF Seminar. During this year, the Deities Whose Names I chanted would appear before me and I was able to surrender my subtle body, at their Holy feet. This would increase Bliss. Also, this was a way to get a break during distressing times and feel closeness and protection. I would experience often subtle fragrances. In fact, all my subtle senses became a little more acute.
7. Third year – Faith and Bliss
This is when long periods of peace and Bliss started occurring. Optimism and happiness are the main emotions experienced on both levels. There’s a feeling that I’m half in this world and half in the other dimension with God. Now I am in a constant dialogue with God within me, Whom I am asking/introspecting what He thinks and for explanations of situations. There is a feeling that everything is going to be ok, fear has largely disappeared due to a deepened faith and I experience that God has brought me through many situations already. When negative thinking comes, it is short lived as God has given solutions through past experience or prompting from co-seekers. A love and unity is experienced for co-seekers and desire for all to progress together. I feel strong and able to deal with situations as they arise due to less emotional reactions. I’m in a good situation to be of use to God and those people He brings on my path. There is still a long way to go but I’ve been brought further than I could ever have imagined! This has happened only by God’s Grace and a small bit of action from me. There’s a strong realisation that it is God’s will that I’m on this path and will continue as per His wish. Spiritual practice continues. It is a miracle to be where I am now, from the broken, suicidal and depressed woman that I was 3 years ago. I can only express gratitude to God for this.
– Ms. Annette Brown – UK, Europe