Grace Is Real: A Journey From Addiction to Peace

Grace Is Real – A Journey From Addiction to Surrender

In this soul-searching narrative, we journey into the realm of grace — a term that goes far beyond religious sermon or spiritual cliché, and becomes an important catalyst for personal transformation.

From a skeptical upbringing in Sweden to moments of divine intervention, what unfolds is not just a story of recovery from addiction, but a deeper tale of realization and spiritual awakening.

Discover how grace illuminates a life once darkened by substance abuse and despair, and leads to a profound sense of purpose that has lasted over two decades.

Grace in Hindsight – How Sobriety Revealed a Divine Plan

Growing up in Sweden, grace was a word I only heard in sermons during the times when us Swedes went to church for holidays like Christmas, as well as other traditional events like weddings and graduations. The word grace is not a common word Swedes use in spoken language.

So, when I first got to AA and heard others share about grace at meetings, I would get annoyed and irritated. I remember thinking “What the F… are you talking about?”

Subconsciously, it somehow triggered the memories of how I sometimes felt as a child: alone, disconnected, and without any concept of God. For me, grace felt distant, something clearly unattainable.

In the early days of recovery, I was mired in anger and depression, so it was incredibly hard for me to understand grace or any aspect of a higher power. But as the days passed, and I stayed sober and kept going to meetings, I began to see that,  indeed, moments of grace had played a great part in the events that led up to me becoming sober.

“I realized I was powerless over drugs and alcohol.”

How Unmistakable Events Aligned to Remove All Doubt of the Existence of Grace

I understood that, throughout the last 24 hours of my drug use, many events aligned in such a way that there was no doubt something bigger than me was at work in my life, something beyond my limited consciousness.

I had been up all night using drugs and eventually fell asleep on my friend’s apartment floor, while his cleaning lady swept the floor around me. Around 5 p.m., my friend returned after buying more drugs. At that moment, it felt as though an invisible force lifted me up by my collar, giving me the strength to say, “I have to leave now.”

After I got home, I realized I had missed an important appointment that day.  The drugs had overpowered me and hijacked my thoughts and my actions. I went into a panic and was more frightened than I had ever been. I saw for the first time that drugs controlled me, and I had no control over them.  As we say in AA, for the first time, I realized I was powerless over drugs and alcohol. 

I shouted angrily at God out the window,  “You were supposed to help me!” 

Something shifted, and not until later did I realize this moment of grace, because from that day onward, I never used drugs or alcohol again, and that was 25 years ago.

Finding Grace in Recovery –The Sunlight of the Spirit

I often heard people at AA meetings speak about the sunlight of the spirit. At that time, I envisioned an image of the sun’s rays shining through the clouds. The clouds blocked that sunlight from the spirit shining through, from shining on me. To me, the clouds represented alcohol and drugs. They represented all the anger and all the fear that occupied my brain. They blocked me from seeing anything that could resemble grace or from feeling any real joy in my life. 

As the years went by and what I had envisioned shifted, I discovered that it was also negative emotions, resentments, and distractions that cut the connection to that light. I slowly was able to see rays of sunlight and I would know when I was connected with it and when I was not. I knew that even things like junk food, some movies or TV, or toxic relationships would also block me from that light. 

“Grace is not linear, and most often only becomes recognized by the conscious mind in hindsight.”

Why I Never Used Again

The desire for this connection is the reason why I have never had alcohol or used drugs again. To be connected with the sunlight of the spirit became the primal desire and dharma of my life.  

It is in this sunlight that we find grace, or that grace finds us; no one knows which one comes first. Grace is not linear, and most often only becomes recognized by the conscious mind in hindsight. For many of us, it’s only in hindsight that we can see how grace played a part in shaping our lives. Some of these events were easy to navigate, while others were more difficult. These are incidents that have a great impact on the direction and destiny of our lives, like meeting someone who forever changes the course of our lives.

How Awareness and Self-Reflection Led Me to Transformation

Personally, I believe that it was all the effort to understand myself and clear out all the ‘weeds’ — the resentments and negative emotions — that gave me the space I needed to see all of the patterns that needed to be broken down, patterns that cluttered my mind. Then, meditation and becoming more connected with my breath became important elements that enabled me to be more present and more aware of grace operating in my life.

By becoming the witness to our thoughts and our actions, we are able to observe our faults and our neurosis, and when observed we can let things dissolve. And as I started to clear the weeds of my emotional state, I could surrender negative emotion and allow for forgiveness and love to come in, and slowly but surely, grace began seeping in here and there. It was through this process of letting go and deep surrender that I was finally able to observe grace in real-time. Grace will sneak its way in if you work for it and truly wish for it. 

Discovering Grace Through the Pathway of Surrender

When we let go of the dramas, our speculations, and our opinions, we create more space for grace to appear. Grace happens when we say yes to life, and not no. Grace happens when we stay present to life and go with the flow through the doors and through the openings. We discover that there is something out there showing us the way, something that is looking out for us.

When we allow for life’s ups and downs, rather than resist, and just flow with this undercurrent of energy, we can live in the experience of grace. Grace is a cosmic unfolding and invisible pathway that we are only able to see when we become open enough to follow the signs. Now, I am able to look back and see countless moments of grace. 

“The pathway of surrender has enabled this visceral experience to come to pass.”

Moments That Forever Changed the Trajectory of My Life

And now that I have actually felt it, it is so clear to me what it is. Moments and events, some simple ones and others more powerful. For example, two of the most important events in my life have been my recovery from drugs and alcohol and meeting my teacher Sally Kempton.

Grace is the only explanation for these events. Gifts from God. Gifts that were instrumental in guiding and directing me toward the next phase of my journey, moments that forever changed the trajectory of my life. None of these events ever consciously came from anything I’d planned or even imagined before, they came from a place beyond my mind, beyond the conscious mind.  

At this point in my life, when surrender is the way I live, grace has become more tangible. I can feel and see it. The pathway of surrender has enabled this visceral experience to come to pass. 

Grace is something indescribable, like love, something we cannot see and something we cannot touch. Most of us know what it is, but not many of us feel that we can truly say we have experienced it in our lives. Grace is like a street light at night, lighting up the dark street ahead, that shows us a path forward that seems impossible or that confuses us. A path that not until years later, do we see it was perfectly and divinely chosen for us. 

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Abdi Assadi is unlike any other healer or spiritual teacher ever encountered. He is an expert in martial arts, and a dynamic healer practicing a diverse array of Chinese and Eastern Medicine, indigenous shamanic rituals, and meditation techniques. With a clinical practice in New York City for almost 4 decades, Abdi has accumulated a vast knowledge of real life experience working with several thousands of individuals, guiding them through the most difficult times, and teaching them how to understand themselves. One of the greatest things about him is he merges the human psyche with the spiritual psyche.

Steeped in deep wisdom and insight that is rare to find on this planet in these modern times, Abdi has an extraordinary ability in perceiving and comprehending human souls and their individual psyche. Guided by the divine, Abdi guides you to open up and see beyond your limited Self, into your own soul. His impeccable discernment enables him to unleash personal remarks that pierce through your veil, statements that you will never forget and in an instant alter your perception of yourself and your reality.

– Quotes from Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi:

All spiritual masters teach us that love is an activity before it is a condition – and that love is all-encompassing.
Page 18

It felt like I was coming off a race track and driving in a school zone. He knew, years before I did, that my speed was my way of suppressing my early childhood anxiety, and that only slowing down could heal it.

Why do you need to use all these words like God and spirituality? It is right here Abdi, all around you, all the time
Page 40

one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
Page 51

Ultimately it keeps grace out of our lives because we are using our will power to manipulate every event and person around us.
Page 74

His lesson, which I had begun to learn for myself, is that outside circumstances do not define our internal experience if we can surrender into them. Painful or undesirable situations will always arise; true suffering comes from our ego’s desire to resist life as it is.
Page 77

Note from Pernilla:
I met Abdi in the fall of 2014 and when I arrived in his office the first thing he said was, “It’s time that you stop carrying other people’s anxiety.” In the year that followed, my entrenched codependency patterns reared their ugly heads and I was confronted with a part of myself that I had never even known was there.

A few years later, Abdi said, “When are you going to start writing your book?”I looked at him in surprise. I was not a writer. My expertise was centered around creating crazy good Excel spreadsheets. However, I started writing and collecting notes about life issues and life experiences … and here we are a few years later.

Sally Kempton is a preeminent meditation teacher of our time.

She is an expert scholar in Hinduism and all Hindu texts especially in Kashmir Shaivisim. Formerly Swami Durgananda, she left monastic life in the 1980’s to teach publicly. She has written several books and is one of the most known and loved spiritual teachers in our time.

Note from Pernilla:

I met Sally at one of her workshops at City Yoga in LA in 2003. She had the most gentle and loving disposition, and I just wanted to always be around her. I was fortunate to have been part of her two year-long “Transformative journey” courses in 2006 and 2007 and many retreats ever since. She is the true representation of unconditional love and transmits intense shakti from her Guru Swami Muktananda.

Sally is the primary building block and foundation in my spiritual journey. Without her, I would have never found and stuck with meditation – the most transformative experience of my life. Without her, I would have been lost without a clue where to go next. Her wealth of knowledge of yogic philosophy and incredible understanding of the human condition is what makes her a force to be reckoned with.  She understands your depth and makes you feel seen, heard, validated, and deeply loved.