By Bhakti Vinode, Gardener (as seen in The Guardian)
My story begins in London when I was 20 years old. Myself, and my new friend Glen were walking around the West end of London. We spent all of our money and Glen suggested we go to the Hare Krishna temple for a meal. I said no but he convinced me to go.
There were many young people from all around the world there and they gave us a very nice meal. We were living in a squat at the time and drinking a lot.
The Krishna devotees asked me if I wanted to go to stay on a farm/retreat that George Harrison had donated to them. So I went and stayed for a month.
It was very peaceful with nice music and food.
After I left the farm community I went back to the squat and the West end of London and ended up in Brixton prison due to drinking and drugs. Most of my lifestyle wasn’t good for my mental health around that time of my life.
When I was 25 I went back to my parent’s house in Scotland but I became a bit depressed due to unemployment and the drinking environment I was in. I was also trying to stay away from friends that I considered trouble.
Then both my parents died within a month of each other, they were both 52 years old. I was devastated and ended up back in London, sleeping on the streets for over a year. I was completely lost and bewildered and depressed and ended up in jail again.
While in jail I thought I don’t want to get in any more trouble, so when I got out of jail I went to Edinburgh and got a job in a garden centre. I stayed in that job for year and visited the Krishna temple at weekends.
Then I was asked if I wanted to move in to the temple so I did and lived in the temple as a monk for 3 years. Then I decided to move out and sell Krishna books on the street to make a living for the 6 years after I left the temple.
The Krishna lifestyle is very good, very disciplined. So that way it was very good for me, and though I was struggling with my mental health problems during my time with the Krishna devotees, I also found a horticultural therapy gardening project, run by the Scottish Association for mental health.
I trained there for 3 years, it was 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. The staff were very supportive and friendly and treated me as an individual person, accepting me and my Krishna lifestyle. I made friends with lots of the trainees as well.
After 3 years working there myself and Jan the manageress of the gardening project went to the doctors and I asked the doctor if I could go and do the garden at the Krishna temple under Jan’s supervision and the doctor agreed.
I wasn’t using any drugs, I was just using the garden as a therapy. I did speak to a physiatrist while I was at the horticultural therapy project, he recommended I stop drinking and I told him the Krishna meditation and life style helped me a lot, he said don’t give it up then.
So I then started the garden at the Krishna temple here in Scotland. It went very well, I was working with a lot of nice volunteers and making friends with local people.
My friend in a rock band then taught me how to do a nice meditation.
The meditation was about caring for people I had hurt in the past, and that helped me a lot because I did some things in the past that I regretted very much. The therapy with John my musician friend was a life changing experience. I felt peaceful after doing the meditation with John and felt a heavy burden had been lifted from me. After that I continued to do the garden at the temple got married and now feel happy and satisfied in life.
My new motto is do what it takes to help yourself…
If believing in God helps you fine, if music helps you fine, if gardening helps you fine, my experience is friendships are very important and my motto in life is a little bit of love makes up for a lot, we all have love in our hearts, and all we need is love so everyone can be happy, satisfied in life.
Now I try to do things with love that helps me forget my problems and lots of people reciprocate.
Everyone is looking for Love.