Personal Transformation Experience

Baba and Barbara

My wonderful adventure with Swami began in 1998. At the time I was 24 years old and my life was going really crazy. My family was having major problems with my brother taking very heavy drugs and was just being diagnosed with bulimia and mental problems.

It was a time when I had to struggle for life and look after my brother as well, since our parents would refuse to face these issues and take any responsibility.

I would take care of my duties towards the family and work, but inside of me I felt that my life was very much close to an end. I could not stand so much pain and the sense of emptiness inside of me. Each weekend, after work and all worldly duties I would retire to my house and would seriously think of committing suicide. I would go out at night and walk for hours and hours, I would take cold showers trying to calm down. Doctors would suggest me to take mental drugs, but I would not accept to take any. I felt that my own salvation was not in a pill.  I felt that my pain was beyond worldly circumstances and I had to figure out why happiness seemed to be so far away, why I could not simply be content with all the things that normally make people happy.  My mind would never stop prompting me with questions: What was the true meaning of life? What was its purpose since we were just a small moment in the infinite time of the Universe? What was worth all this suffering?

It seemed to me I was in a black tunnel with no way out and my mental questioning was leading me nowhere. Moreover, I had to struggle every day at work with very poor results since I simply had no strength. I had started my own company a few years earlier and all responsibilities were put on me. And I had no energy. I had nothing to give. I had to take care of myself. Everybody around me expected me to find my own way as I had been in the past and could not stand the fact that I was in need of help. My family would refuse any help, very few friends would stay close to me and my business was paying a high price for me being "away". Doctors suggested a long psychotherapy pathway (apparently seven years would be required to get out of bulimia!) and drugs. I was desperate and said to myself: "If I have to live another seven years like this…I better leave this planet now". I felt that I had to search another way out.

But how? I approached Reiki and different natural healing systems. I started reading books of self-awareness. I was surviving, but spending a lot of energy trying to live a normal life. Apparently my health was not improving, it was even getting worse!

Until.... Baba came and changed my life forever. It happened through my Reiki Master, one day she showed me a picture of Swami saying that she just came back from a trip to Prashanthi Nilayam. I recall looking at His picture and recognising Him as if I had known Him for ever. From that day onwards, I started buying any books available on Baba. I would spend most of my free time reading about Him and looking at His pictures, talking to Him most of the time. I was definitely "testing" Him in a stubborn way since I felt that only He could save my life: "If you are God, come show yourself to me and heal me". I was very touched by one of His statements: "Nothing is impossible for Me, I always come to save my devotee who prays to me with a pure heart. I shall not fail". Therefore, I said to myself, "Ok Baba, I will pray to you as long as I can breathe, no matter what happens, I will not stop".

I started repeating the Sathya Sai Gayatri all the time, on my way to the office, during my often attacks from bulimia, performing my duties rather than in my spare time. The Mantra was in all of me, my life was just chanting this Mantra with hope and reading Baba's life tales and discourse. I would spend most of my time, far from worldly urges, just with Swami, trying to establish a connection with Him. I felt it was my only chance to live…only God could be the ultimate response to all my questions.

It was not easy and I realise now that it was a test for my faith as well. At first I could not really see any result and I was suffering so badly. But each time I would feel weak and lost I would say to myself: "I won't give up as long as I can breathe. Baba said he is God and He will take care of me." I would ask Him: "Please help me, I cannot take it anymore, please Swami give me a sign, do something" and immediately "strange" things would happen: might be a friend who would call me and say some sweet words or at work some critical issues would be solved instantly (my company was in huge financial troubles at the time!). Baba was there for me and I could feel it. I would attend the Milan Sai Centre weekly…go there for Bhajans and would cry most of the time. It seemed like all the emptiness I felt inside was gradually filled with Swami's love. He would send me every information I needed to know. He would reply to all my questions (He still does most of the time!). For example, after some time visiting the Sai Centre in Milan, a devotee (with no knowledge of my bulimia problem) would simply hand over to me a small book on Swami's discourses on being vegetarian which I became right afterwards.

My dear Sai friends, I must tell you: what was supposed to be a long calvary according to the doctors opinion, turned out to be that in 9 months time my "food problems" were completely solved and I could handle my big challenge to help my brother (who is now Swami's devotee and has a very happy life!!!) and run a company at the age of 24 (more stories to come on how Swami helped with the company) with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It was not a one day miracle, but it happened.  It was a combination of Grace and Love from Swami and faith and efforts on my side. We should not expect Swami to work things out for us. Life is a challenge, but I can say for sure: no matter how hard or "impossible" it may be, Swami is always there for us, helping us and showing us the path.

Therefore, in few humble words: "Never give up. Do your best and Swami will do the rest!"

Barbara Franci

Region 2 Italy