Brainwashing & Peak Experience.
Date: March 28, 2011 10:41PM
I had lived in my hometown of Lincoln until the age of 23. I then had the opportunity of living in the Devonshire countryside with my girlfriend, Deborah. We had been together for over four years & were very close.
Initially it was a bit of a novelty living in the village of Halberton near Tiverton in the summer, with the horse drawn barges on the canals just beyond a field backing onto our cottage, though I grew restless for the city life after 18 months & I was missing my friends so decided to return to live in Lincoln. Deborah was not as keen as me to return as her mother lived nearby, though she did to come with me.
When we had re-settled I soon discovered several of my old drug taking friends were enthusiastically involved in meditating. In that short time they had changed quite a bit. One of them called Steve told me the experience was better than L.S.D. which I used to love taking. I also presumed meditation was perhaps a much healthier choice than taking drugs plus it was legal. I have a curious nature & love new experiences so wanted to find out more so I decided to go along to an introductory meeting a week later which my friends had told me about. It was in a hired room in a hotel in the city centre.
When I arrived with Deborah I found a handful of people running the introductory talk in front of an audience of approx 100 people. The organisers were smartly dressed, articulate & appeared intelligent & positive. They spoke about a ‘knowledge that you can't get in college’ & appeared to be offering something that was new to me. Some of what they talked about appeared to be philosophy & made sense to me though the rest appeared vague which created a strong curiosity in me to find out more.
I was told that the next meeting was to be less formal & at one of my old friends home the following week so I decided to go along. I thought I had nothing to lose, it was free & I thought I may learn something new. There was something about that 1st meeting; I could not exactly put my finger on, which made me think about it a lot.
At the second meeting there was a talk about something called 'Satsang' (An Indian word meaning company of truth). People spoke about their positive experience of Knowledge & when they did, others would experience a heightened state of awareness. This is impossible to understand fully unless you or I experience it. Initially the feeling is so subtle; you feel uplifted, positive & alive. There is also a feeling of warmth towards others & the atmosphere can be electric.
I was told this was only one part of Knowledge. Another part was called Service. If you chose to volunteer to take action in a physical sense to contribute towards helping the organisation, which I soon discovered was called the Divine Light Movement (DLM), you would experience this warm, heightened state again. The third & final part of Knowledge was to learn four meditation techniques. These were called Light, Music, Holy Name & Nectar. Attend Satsang, do Service & meditate & I was told that all my questions would be answered, as Knowledge was the answer for life itself. To be told this by everyone I met within the DLM was a very powerful influence too.
There was no pressure to join anything & while I was showing interest, I was introduced to several other people who were new to DLM too. We were all keen to learn the meditation techniques. It appeared that the ones that had been initiated, knew & experienced something at a deeper level than we did about Knowledge.
I attended several Satsang meetings in Leicester which was less than 50 miles away, before being initiated into the DLM. My new friends & their way of life began to become more of an interest to me. Everyone was very friendly & welcoming. I would just turn up for Satsang at someone's house I had never met before & would immediately be made to feel at home. Compared to my old set of friends whose idea of fun was to be regularly wasted & drunk & sometimes moan about their lives, this was a refreshing change for me.
I felt that I was choosing to make all my own decisions to be where I was & discover more about Knowledge. From my 1st visits to Leicester, I was shown videos of an Indian Guru called Maharaji. Everyone would sit quietly absorbing what this man had to say on video or audio. By listening to him, it began to alter my state, gradually at first, then more powerfully. Maharaji was the source of Knowledge & was continually giving Satsang to 1000's of his followers.
We would go into trance like states, a calm, warm & centred experience & although it was a new dimension of experience for me, it somehow appeared familiar at the same time. My new friends regularly spoke of 'coming home’. Whatever we had been searching for in life appeared to be resolved within this experience. We did not smoke, drink or take drugs; there was no need as what we were experiencing was more than enough.
After my third visit to Leicester I volunteered to be initiated into learning the meditation techniques. Deborah had attended the initial meetings with me though changed her mind at the last moment about being initiated herself, as she began to have doubts which she did not express fully to me.
I was told that after the initiation ceremony I would be called a 'Premie' which meant lover, a lover of life. A couple of Premies also told me I may feel quite high for a few weeks afterwards as I 'blissed out' after learning the meditation techniques. I enjoyed the ceremony & rituals & was initiated into the secret mediation techniques with ten other people. Everything was free & everyone was warm & friendly. I returned home to Lincoln in a very peaceful & blissed out state.
Several days later Deborah told me she had done some research on the Divine Light Movement (This was before the Internet) & told me that I had joined a cult & had been brainwashed. I thought that was ridiculous & it did not make any sense at all to me so I assumed she must have been mistaken as I certainly didn’t feel brainwashed! She also told me that it was not uncommon for Premies to have nervous breakdowns.
Around this time my pre-Premie friends started to become uneasy around me as I started to become someone they hardly knew as I became completely absorbed in my new experience which had altered many of my inner core values. Even the tone of my voice had changed. I had become another person experiencing a very different world within only a few months of hearing about DLM. It concerned me that I was losing most of my old friends & I mentioned this to my new Premie friends. They just told me to keep on practicing Knowledge & everything would be all right.
Because my inner world was rapidly transforming, my outer world began to change very quickly too. A few weeks after being initiated, Deborah left me abruptly as she could not handle me anymore. I was becoming akin to a religious fanatic. When she left this caused me deep inner confusion. Why would the person I loved leave me when I thought I was doing what I thought & felt was so right? Doubts began to grow.
In my 'enlightened' state I began to make decisions which began to make my outer world more complicated. I lost my well-paid job then found it difficult to pay the rent on my flat. I began to feel like I was under the influence of a very powerful drug that I could not see or touch, which took me higher & higher & I did not know how to switch it off.
Within a few more weeks I started experiencing paranoia, anxiety & began to hear voices. As I became more confused, to justify this, I thought it must be because I was not meditating properly so tried to do more to balance myself, not realising that these powerful techniques were probably making it even worse for me. The world of Maharaji and Knowledge had become obsessive & all consuming; I did not know which way to turn & became very frightened. I did not realise at the time that I was losing control of my mind.
You may naturally presume that you wouldn't fall for something like this yourself & that I must have been gullible. Unfortunately it is not that simple. I would have thought exactly the same thing myself until I actually experienced it. I did not join the DLM because I felt something was missing in my life. Analysing my past would not produce an answer. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time & was seduced into an efficiently run cult by people I knew.
While my mind continued to deteriorate I bumped into an old friend called Jock one day who I hadn't seen since all of this had begun. He had absolutely no idea what had happened to me or what was going on in my mind. Jock was going to London to visit his girlfriend & suggested that I go with him for a break. I was in such a suggestible state of mind at that time that I would have perhaps agreed with anything anyone said, so decided to go with him.
We went from Lincoln to London on the train together. My mind was creating many weird thoughts & I felt very uncomfortable as I began to believe that I could read peoples minds & they could read mine too. When we arrived in London we went for a drink in a pub where someone offered me joint to smoke. I hadn’t smoked cannabis in months, though instead of relaxing me it triggered off even more confusion. I stayed with Jock for only a few hours & then wandered off into Notting Hill on my own in my confused state.
I did not have any money or food & ended up sleeping in a park somewhere in the centre of London for 3-4 nights, I cannot remember how long exactly, as my mind & then my appearance began to deteriorate. I have never been so frightened in my life. I was now experiencing a living nightmare in my imagination. I believed that millions of people in the world had become confused & were insane & I was somehow going to be their saviour. The images in my mind became more vivid & disturbing which caused me to experience anxiety & paranoia to a level I had never imagined possible.
It was a miracle that I did not harm myself or anyone else. My thoughts could have easily led me to jump off a building or throw myself under a car in my deluded state & no one would have known what had motivated me to do it.
After several days, I found myself wandering around Kings Cross station. By this time I was convinced I was responsible for starting the 3rd world war & countries were launching nuclear bombs at each other & I was radio active. This may sound funny as you read this though actually believing it was happening to me at that time was absolutely terrifying.
Somehow & fortunately for me, I could just about remember my parents telephone no., dialled it & my mother answered. I told her I was dying & to please come & get me; I told her where I was & waited at Kings Cross Station after handing myself in at a police station. It was obvious to the police that I was mentally ill. They put me in a cell & a few hours later my parents arrived in their car to take me home. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had not been able to contact them.
The next day, on the suggestion of my mother, I agreed to see a psychiatrist who visited the house. The psychiatrist suggested I visit his hospital the following day so I happily volunteered to go. On entering the hospital I quickly changed my mind as I was interviewed by another psychiatrist in his consulting room with two staff either side of the door & was told I was not allowed to leave, which made me angry. I felt that I had been tricked. I thought I did not belong in there & believed I just needed a few nights sleep & I would be ok.
I was locked in a small room on my own after being given a dose of tranquillizers which knocked me out. When I woke up I discovered I was on a ward with several other patients, mainly schizophrenics. Until I had been admitted, my mind had been racing so fast & my body had tried to keep up with it. Normally, I would have weighed ten and a half stone. In the weeks before being admitted, I had gone down to eight. With the tranquillizers in my system, this allowed my mind to slow down. I soon discovered that one of the side affects of the drugs was that I now had an inexhaustible appetite. Within ten weeks, I put on four stone & grew out of most of my old clothes.
Several days after arriving on the hospital ward, Peter a schizophrenic lifer, came up to me with a knowing sparkle in his eyes & said,
"I know why you are here!"
I said, "Why's that?"
He said, "Because you are Jesus and you've come to set us all free!"
I did not say anything to him, though I smiled & nodded my head and thought to myself,
"That's amazing. How did he know that?"
This was how confused I had become. I was truly on another planet.
I took me several weeks to realise that I had had a nervous breakdown. I was kept in hospital for several months, eventually being allowed to stay with my parents at weekends. Within the first few months of being on my ward, three of the patients managed to successfully commit suicide. Quite high odds when I realised there was only 25 of us there!
I was sectioned, which meant when I was eventually allowed to return to live with my parents, which I had to do, I also had to report frequently to the hospital for one year so they could monitor me & I could collect my supply of tranquillizers. With my mind messed up & knowing that there was no guarantee of recovery, suicide certainly crossed my mind as a logical exit. I was hanging on to my life by a very fine thread indeed.
Then something happened which helped me in an unexpected way. Several months before I began to experience the world of Maharaji & DLM, Phil, a close friend of mine unexpectedly had a nervous breakdown. This was nothing to do with DLM. Things started to go down hill for him around the time he lost his job in a bank. He had told me the work had been stressing him up. He lived at home with his parents & began to cut himself off from the world outside. His Dr. registered him with an outlook ward at the hospital meaning he had the freedom to leave it when he wanted as his mental condition did not appear to be a danger to himself or others.
While Phil was living with his parents, he used to visit Deborah & me each week. He was basically a good guy, intelligent, well mannered & friendly. At the time I did not understand exactly what a nervous breakdown was; no one does unless they experience it themselves. I tried to get him to socialize more, as I thought it may give him something else to think about, though it was became more difficult to get through to him. He kept saying that he felt like his mind was in a cage & the walls of the cage were closing in on him & it was beyond his control.
Anyway, Phil eventually appeared to be getting better & I did not see him until he visited me in the same hospital several months later. By then I had begun to understand some of what he had been experiencing first hand. A few weeks later, I was on a weekend break from hospital & was in the kitchen at home. I remember it was a beautiful summers day. My parents were sitting outside on the patio, drinking tea & reading the newspapers. I then heard my mother say, "Oh my God, Rob, I think you had better read this!"
My mother showed me an article in the local newspaper that I discovered was about Phil. It said that while recovering from his breakdown, Phil's father, who he had been very close to, had died from natural causes. Phil reacted to this by having a relapse, which resulted in him deciding to drive his fathers car into the countryside, connect a hose pipe to the exhaust & then that was goodbye to him too.
The psychiatrists believed I was in a more unstable condition than Phil as he had not been sectioned like me, though he had still killed himself. This sobered me up somewhat & gave me a reality check. I now had a clear choice. I could either struggle through each day, praying that my mind would somehow function properly again or I could take the easy option & go & join Phil. Fortunately I chose the former, though it was not easy, as my mind was so damaged.
One year after my breakdown (I personally prefer the word breakthrough), I could describe how my thought processes had been while recovering. If my thoughts were to have been written down on paper, some of the words would have appeared much LARGER, some words much smaller, and some some some words words would would would keep repeating themselves. Some words would become all jumbled up, (lal umledbuj pu) and there would also be ........... spaces ......... where ........ no thoughts ........ existed........
I could not understand what people were saying to me; they appeared to be talking too fast for my mind to keep up. I was taking my prescription drugs though did not know if these were some of the side affects of the drugs or the state of my mind so it did concern me what my mind would be like when I did stop taking them.
What people tried to have a conversation with me, most of it went over the top of my head. I just nodded & smiled, pretending I could understand them, hoping they would not realise how confused I was. If I tried to read a book, I would interpret the meaning of the content in a confused way too or if I watched TV. the same thing would happen as well as me forgetting what I had watched within minutes.
From what I was experiencing at the time, I came to the logical conclusion that I must have burnt out some part of my cognitive faculties & had some form of permanent brain disorder. To make matters even worse, no one had any idea what was going on inside my head. Family or friends would say to me that I was looking a lot better; they meant well though they did not have a clue & I did not have the ability to articulate my experience. I could find no one who could offer me any practical help whilst I felt very alone & frightened.
Even though my mind began to repair the worst of the damage after the first year, for another ten years I felt lost, depressed & out of sync as I struggled with my life. My mind gradually did begin to clear, though my self-confidence & trust in others was damaged. I eventually found myself full time work, moved out from my parents after the first year & also found myself another girlfriend who I lived with for over five years, though I felt a large part of me was still missing. After the experience of my breakdown I had changed, though the new me did not work properly.
My relationship with my new girlfriend eventually began to fall apart so I decided to move out & live on my own. I disconnected from my parents too. I just needed some space. While I tried to begin a new life, I was physically attacked three times within eight months. This was partly due to me not being conscious of how I was communicating with others & also due to the type of people I was allowing into my life.
I kept making decisions that were complicating my life, not realising that there may be another choice available to me. The third time I was assaulted by a guy quite a bit taller than me who belonged to the local motorcycle gang. He had gone out with my previous girlfriend after I had left her & she had bad mouthed me to him because she was bitter about being rejected even though I tried to do it gently. After this assault I had to have two weeks off work as I could not see out of one of my eyes properly. I had ended up in hospital & came close to losing sight in one of my eyes. I still have the scar underneath my right eye to remind me of what happened. I kept attracting bad luck though I did not know how to switch it off yet.
The week before this incident, I had seen a programme on TV. about international sales people that went on body language courses to help them improve their communication skills for when working in different cultures. As I was still in shock & did not particularly want to mix with people when I was off work & recovering, I bought a couple of books on the subject to see if there was any way that I could improve my communication skills so I could get along better with others too. As far as the assault was concerned, I did not report it, I was not interested in whom was wrong or right, the important thing for me was to make sure nothing like that ever happened to me again.
I became fully absorbed in studying & experimented with altering how I could communicate on a non-verbal level. Within weeks I was able to communicate in a far more confident, positive & relaxed way. I felt like I had shed an old skin as I discovered another new world, though a far more positive one this time that I could control myself. The next time I went out to see my friends, as I entered my local pub, other than buying a drink, I did not speak to anyone for approx 30 mins because I was so aware of how people were communicating non-verbally. I remember it to be just a sea of gestures which I had not been aware of before & it fascinated me!
This new found enthusiasm led me next to Susan Jeffers book, 'Feel the Fear & do it anyway', which I devoured & again, another significant shift took place in my personality & behaviour. Someone recommended a third book called 'The Winners Edge' by Denis Waitley about self-image & these new learnings became the catalyst that triggered off my second major life changing experience which was more profound & far more positive than the first one.
My energy level increased dramatically within weeks, as well as my I.Q. I was able to think & communicate at a far higher level. At one time I remember reading 17 books at the same time & cross referencing the information as easily as if I were reading a comic. I could easily lose myself in reading, as it was so enjoyable & I was finding it so useful. I mainly read psychology & approx 180 autobiographies within the next few years. Years later, many of those learnings are as clear as if I had discovered them yesterday.
I wasn't half experiencing anything. I was completely there, in the moment. I also began to experience a peace of mind that I could never remember experiencing before & I felt love pouring out of me towards everybody & everything & for the next 18 months I experienced no fears, worries, problems, physical aches or pains.
Everything had a purpose to my life & I experienced synchronicity to what now seems an impossible degree. People & circumstances that I either wanted or needed, materialised for me at the right time as if I had an invisible magic wand. I lived in the here & now throughout this period for every waking second. Initially I thought, 'Have I gone crazy?' as everything I experienced was so perfect & I thought life isn’t supposed to be that way. I did not realise at the time I was having what I later discovered was called a ‘Peak Experience’ or temporary enlightenment.
My initial questions were quickly replaced with an experience of life that felt as whole & as sane as I could possibly be. My mind & body were working together in perfect harmony as I experienced an intense & aware feeling of being connected to the power of the universe. Everything was beautiful.
All my senses became alive & I felt much more in tune with nature. When before I would have walked past a tree, hardly aware of it, now I fully appreciated & marveled at the beauty, colour & aliveness of it. This experience was as real as the ground I could feel beneath my feet. Sometimes colours appeared so rich & images so well defined that it would feel like I was walking around inside a Technicolor film.
I felt such a strong connection to a universal energy which I cannot put into words, as it went far beyond them. I felt completely free to do anything I wanted as there were no psychological blocks preventing me. Whichever direction I chose was right for me & I could see endless possibilities stretching out in front of me with a vivid & crystal clear imagination.
As soon as I woke each morning, insights to unresolved issues from my past would present themselves to me without asking for them, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle sliding into place without effort. The inner core of my being was showing itself to me & my mind & body were purring like a well-tuned sports car. Because I felt so relaxed, balanced & at peace, I had an abundance of mental & physical energy which I would never have imagined was possible. I was fully awake & alert as well as experiencing a deep sense of joy that I will never forget.
When I listened to music I could feel it at a much deeper level, speaking to me, the hairs on my arms standing on end when I listened to a well written piece, taking me much higher than any drug could do. For several years I had drunk alcohol & smoked cannabis, though I let go of both of these without effort, liking shedding an old skin as I discovered they only dampened experience. I was truly high on life.
Some people I met would feel the energy that was emanating from me & remark at it in a suprised way. They wondered how I was able to make them feel so high, even though I was not trying to do anything. As this energy was transferable to others, it showed me that it was not just a subjective experience. Everything felt right & all I did was motivated by clear, positive intentions. The core of this experience was a love that at sometimes felt like it would overwhelm me, though never quite did.
I can remember thinking at the time, "This must be my experience of God & if this is God, God is really cool!" It had absolutely nothing to do with organised religion though; what I was experiencing went far beyond what people had tried to teach me in church which from my new view point struck me as quite crude & questionable. This was not a book & rituals that I had to try & decipher or have explained by someone else so I could understand their meaning; what I was experiencing was the experience of all experiences. It explained everything to me & more. It certainly went beyond anything I could have possibly imagined or tried to have consciously created myself. I certainly did not have the intelligence for that.
It was like gazing at those computerised hologram puzzle pictures that used to be the craze; if you were able to focus beyond what appeared to be a meaningless pattern, all of a sudden you would see the 3-D image. My perception of reality had changed from a black & white 2-dimensional chaos to a Technicolor 3-D image verging on overwhelming clarity within weeks. That was how different my world had become.
I was able to go to work, drive my car, play guitar in a band & communicate with others without sounding or behaving strange even though I was experiencing life very differently to the people around me. Fortunately for me I did not feel the urge to preach anything about my experience, as I am sure people would have thought me weird as they would not be able to relate to it. To this day I have never met anyone who has had a similar experience, though I have read about a few on the internet.
One thing I was very conscious of when speaking with others was how fearful, unhappy, frustrated & confused people were with their lives & how unconscious they appeared to be of being caught up in their own dramas. I felt compassion for everyone. Everyone & everything appeared special & important to me.
I thought I must have hit the jackpot! It felt like god, the universe or whatever you want to call it, had said to me, "Life doesn't have to be so painful or meaningless or a puzzle anymore. In fact, you can look at the lid of the puzzle box right now & see the completed picture if you want", & I did.
After 18 months living life like this, the intensity, energy & feelings gradually began to fade a day at a time & no matter what I tried to do, it left me as effortlessly as it had appeared.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/29/2011 08:58PM by rrmoderator.