It’s all Grace.
Even when you feel Grace has forsaken you and life has thrown at you more than you can imagine would be possible, this too is Grace.
We are the infinite sky for which all spontaneously appears and disappears back whence it came. We must not falsely mistake the transient nature of life’s content for the inherent and ineffable stability of our true nature, our Self.
You are never not Self.
You are at your core, the embodiment of the Divine nature of life ebbing and flowing as it goes.
Even in your most unforgivable actions, these too are the actions of Grace.
And so all is Grace.
But when you take personal ownership of life you will find yourself feeling stuck in the push and pull of judgements of right and wrong. You will forever be chasing your tail trying to keep or trying to get rid of this or that.
You will forever be measuring yourself against ideals and questioning if you are ‘good enough’.
Can you accept all that you experience into your heart as that of the difference faces and appearances of Grace, of Consciousness, of YOU?
all is Consciousness,
all is Divine,
all is Grace,
all is Self,
and coming to accept this brings much peace.
But the ego-mind doesn’t want to,
it want’s the glory of ‘doing’ but with that it also gets the misery of failing too.
And so this cycle goes as it must, but this is Grace too.
Because there is Grace even in our most egregious ‘human failings’. This too shows us something, not for our comfort but for our growth, for our realisation. For our recognition that then blossoms out of the ashes of seen through falsities.
You are held in the arms of Grace whether you recognise it or not. Even through your suffering and your seeming missteps, Grace is there with you, guiding you, giving infinite chances to see her, to know her, as your very own Self.
When asked recently “How would I describe the work that I do?” I found it a very difficult thing for me to answer because in many ways I can’t define it as it feels too fluid, it is what’s called forth in any given moment. It changes person to person, session to session, moment to moment. But also I AM the work – my work is a reflection of me, of the work I’ve done, of the work I’m doing, of the lessons I’ve learnt, of the experiences I’ve been through, of who I was and who I am right now.
But many people assume Shaktipat is the focus of my ‘work’. It certainly seems that way as that’s what goes out most publicly to the world (If you don’t know what I’m on about take a look at the ‘watch‘ page), that and my writings. But Shaktipat for me is a modality, a tool albeit a powerful one, but much like how meditation or yoga, therapy, books, techniques and workshops are too. Yes it’s a part of what I do but it’s a tool, certainly not the wholeness.
For me the work and my focus, such as it is, is meeting people, connecting with people, holding their hand. Helping them to navigate their own life, their own questions and answers. Showing them how to trust themselves, how to trust life. Finding out where they are struggling and suffering. Being an open heart and a non judgmental space. Offering unconditional love. Being a mirror. Being an ally.
For as long as there are things like suffering, heartbreak, nonacceptance and confusion in this world there is work to be done, for all of us. And that work starts at home, inside of us. That’s where my main focus was for years, myself. Finding that unconditional love and acceptance for myself. Finding out who I was in all this. Finding my centre, my truth. Peeling away layers of old conditioning and false identification and finding ME.
And so when that journey inwards had come to an abiding stability of recognition and acceptance – A sort of full stop in one sense, the natural progression from there seemed outwards towards others. It’s not something I chose, in fact if anything I’ve resisted it every step of the way because “who was I to offer anything to anyone?” – All my knowingness and certainty had collapsed in a heap on the floor!
But when my heart was full of love and compassion for myself I found there was infinite space in there for more. I found myself having capacity and room for it all. My burdens were now lifted, (mostly) and there was now room for the burdens of others. Not as me trying to fix them, or take their burdens on as my own, but that I had room for them when they didn’t seem to have room for themselves. I had compassion and love for them when they maybe didn’t have much for themselves yet.
So what do I do? Back to this question that I hate to be pinned down on (lol)… I show up. I show up as me, and that me has space and time and love, and more importantly that life-trust that those that I meet with too have that available for themselves if they recognise who they truly are.
Shaktipat is part of that showing up, because as a tool I’ve found it to help enormously – for myself and others. From my side the process of giving shaktipat is almost like opening the energetic windows and doors of the person and guiding divine shakti (energy) into where it needs to go, to dissolve the thickets of views and concepts and bring the seat of ‘I’ out of the mind and into the heart of existence.
But my goal isn’t to awakening people per se, however I’ve found that awakening tends to be the solution to most problems and shaktipat (along with Satsang/talking) seems to help with that in a rapid and powerful way. But if awakening isn’t what’s being called forth, then that’s fine too. I have no agenda… no need for this ‘work’, this me, this showing up, to look a certain way.
If someone has cut their hand and turns to me for help, I would show up in that way. With clean water and bandages, tea and sympathy, love and compassion, and lots of tissues to wipe the tears from their eyes. I move where life calls me and have zero ideas of what that looks like.
Sometimes it means laughing together, sometimes it means crying, sometimes it means sharing or teaching, and sometimes it means listening and learning. Sometimes it just means Being. But whatever it is… I’m there, fully. I am me, and you are you and I require nothing of you other than to be your own light, your own truth in whatever way that is.
My ‘work’ is a natural outpouring of life when there is no holding back, no questioning why, no trying to BE anything, just a flow of life meeting life. Life LOVING life.
Every encounter that we have throughout our lives acts as a mirror back to our Self. In this way I can’t help but be grateful to all those I have met along this journey, this pathless path.
As difficult as it sometimes is to admit, I especially have enormous gratitude to those encounters that have shaken and disturbed me to the core. Even when I’m kicking and screaming like a small child not wanting to take its medicine, the wisdom of life knows better. Always pointing me back to something inside that needs to be seen, or hasn’t yet fully been accepted or fully inhabited in myself. Even now I’m not immune to old behaviours, conditioning and habits that are yet to completely play out and be integrated and synthesised.
Although less and less frequently, I hit into these pockets of un-mined gold as they become unearthed by an interaction or a situation. I always say better they come out into the light of consciousness, than stay hidden in the depths of the shadows. And so I welcome them, these trials, this grit of life, because I know now the wisdom that they bring if one stays open and willing enough.
All of this is unfolding and unwinding gradually, like life is being transformed and re-written from the ground up and I trust that all that needs to be seen will come into the light of Being eventually. It doesn’t hurt that I feel nothing but gratitude for this process and for those that I encounter who have acted as a catalyst for this seeing.
I came across this great post by Scott Kiloby this morning on Facebook , it’s long but worth the read… (probably before you read my comments on it)
End the Neo-Advaita LieBy Scott KilobyFrom the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering…
[I’ll post the full article at the bottom of this page if you don’t want to hyperlink out to it.]
I agree with Scott here in that awakening is not the end. For me it was the beginning of meeting myself, maybe for the first time, and seeing where there were traumas and conditioning to be met, worked on and integrated. It’s a continuing process for me, one that I believe wouldn’t be fully possible without awakening (for me at least) as there were far too many egoic structures in place to prevent the ability to go where was needed to go. With awakening there was openness and space for it all.
The statement “there’s nothing to do and no-one to do do it” for me has truth to it on one level, but where the rubber hits the road on this human embodied level of existence it doesn’t account for the felt experience of living. And what really matters for our daily life is how we experience it, how we suffer it, how we love it, how we LIVE it.
Yes, there’s no one to do it, but yet doing happens. Yes there’s nothing to do, it’s all unfolding perfectly as it needs to… But that INCLUDES the work of healing and growing and integrating ALL aspects of this human experience.
Putting my neck on the line here… My perspective is that awakening is half baked unless the humanness is fully brought back INTO the awakened recognition of the underlying unity of this all appearing in awareness. To deny our humanity is to create separation and confusion where there really needn’t be.
Its BOTH-AND not EITHER-OR… and our ‘job’ on an individual level post-awakening is the job of clean up. The cleanup of what it means to live and breathe and relate in this world WITH the recognition of the underlying truth of our nature as that of awareness/consciousness. It’s a naturally occurring process if you let your heart stay open to all possibilities and make no attempt at pinning ‘wrongness’ to whatever needs to show up because is not ‘spiritual’ or ‘enlightened’ enough!
There’s a tendency to negate life with the ‘neo-advaitins’ (yes that’s a massive generalisation of course, no offense intended) to go towards the nihilistic and denial of the human experience in favour of tropes that can quite frankly be even more damaging such as “Who is experiencing depression? It’s just a thought appearing, it’s not real”. There’s a coldness, a non-compassionate side to it that leaves someone feeling hopeless and lost, or even gaslit. Because if not done very skilfully can be taken by a seeker as a denial or a wrongness for their felt experience, like they need to ignore or get rid of that experience of depression because it’s not real and it’s certainly not enlightened.
Humanness is relegated to the realms of ‘you’re identified’ putting it straight into shadow and wrongness. I would go as far as to say creating an idea of separation (the opposite of the nondual recognition) because it suggests that this experience isn’t ‘it’, that you aren’t ‘enlightened’ if you are experiencing life in this X,Y & Z way. But even the so called dream is a living, breathing, fully immersive experience IN and AS consciousness and that can’t be just denied away. It’s felt, it’s experienced, it can’t be separated from consciousness because it IS consciousness TOO.
The full colour experience of consciousness expressing itself as this human body-mind. It’s all the be met, it’s all to be experienced and it’s all to be accepted into the heart of life.
Anyway… just my 2 cents tapped out with my thumb on my phone first thing in the morning ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Scott Kiloby’s Facebook post 7th February 2020:
End the Neo-Advaita Lie
By Scott Kiloby
From the moment Buddha experienced the complete dissolving of all suffering while sitting under a Bodhi tree (as well as other experiences by sages that resulted in the same dissolution), man has become fascinated with the prospect that this kind of deep awakening is possible and that it may even be our our birthright – our natural state when the false ego is seen through. Buddha’s realization was that there is no self and that, since all suffering comes from the belief in being a separate self, when that self is seen as illusion, suffering ends.
The awakenings of the great saints and sages throughout history have confirmed again and again that what happened to Buddha is not connected to Buddha himself. It is an awakening available to anyone who shifts their perception from believing that their thoughts are true and that there is a self to seeing through the illusion of thinking and no longer being able to find a self. In this discovery, profound peace, freedom, love and even bliss can show up. No wonder people are chasing this elusive phenomenon called “enlightenment.”
Although Buddhism and other traditions began to write about the subject, the texts of the older traditions are sometimes hard to translate to the modern world. Plus many of the texts were written after Buddha died, leaving lots of room for mistranslation, just as when Jesus died and others began to translate his experience even though they didn’t experience it directly. Second hand knowledge is not only ineffective. It can also be highly misleading. And a lot gets missed in the translation of these older texts, which can frustrate current day practitioners seeking enlightenment. Plus the language that explains the practices in these older traditions is sometimes hard to understand or translate, leaving the seeker with little specific guidance about how to realize this profound state of consciousness. To make matters worse, many traditions become too bogged down in describing this state rather than giving any clear instructions on how to wake up. That’s like describing a lemon in books for hundreds of years, when what would be more potent is to let people actually taste and explore a lemon firsthand, leaving no room for second hand knowledge.
But the psychology of humans sometimes carries with it a need for dependency on the teacher and the teacher’s writings because they do not trust their own experience in the way I imagine Buddha did.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, a movement called Neo-Advaita was born. It’s promise – very seductive indeed – is that no practice is needed. “You are already free because there is no self,” as if pronouncing pithy one-liners like that automatically brings about the experience of freedom. They are referring to a sudden experience that comes out of the blue and “wakes you up out of ego.” It’s a lot like going to a meeting to listen to a teacher hoping to catch a cold accidentally. I find Neo-Advaita teachings to be first grade level fairy tales. Even those who have had such sudden awakenings by listening to Neo-Advaita teachings, many of them continue to struggle afterwards because they haven’t studied history and tradition. They lack context around awakening. They lack the understanding that trauma and certain core conditioning often sticks around even after a sudden awakening. What’s more troubling is that they often ignore this conditioning that is left, eager to pronounce to themselves, others and to the world (sometimes) that they are awakened.
I also noticed an interesting set of phenomena showing up in people after watching the Neo-Advaita movement:
1. Even if someone has a sudden realization while listening to an Neo-Advaita teacher, that teacher cannot help the student past that point. Why? Because there is a prevailing belief among Neo-Advaita teachers that once you experience that initial “pop” into awakening, into seeing no self, all your suffering and troubles are over. “You’re now liberated and so you can give up the search,” so the story goes. We now know through western research on trauma and years and years of anecdotal evidence that the “sudden pop experience where one expects never to suffer again” is mostly a myth. The more common experience among people is that sudden experiences can happen, bringing a profound shift in perception BUT that’s not the end of it. Within just a few years of that sudden pop, any unresolved traumas, deficiency stories or other deeply embedded conditioning can begin to surface for many people. And unless that person turns away from the infantile rhetoric of Neo-Advaita at that point, that person will suffer, albeit quietly sometimes, and flat out refuse to do any more work on him or herself. He has been conditioned by the Neo-Advaita rhetoric to ignore all the stuff that is still coming up, making him feel not-so-liberated at times. And there is no place in the Neo-Advaita atmosphere to even bring up these post-awakening issues. If you bring it up, you can expect to be shot down and hear more of the same rhetoric – “there’s no self.” But just saying there is no self is not enough. If someone has an awakening experience, “selfing” still happens, albeit much less. That’s what I’ve learned from doing thousands and thousands of one on one sessions. I’ve learned that Neo-Advaita is misleading people and that people truly aren’t waking up out of the deeper strands of conditioning. When people stay asleep to these deeper strands, that is bypassing. So they have no business claiming “full liberation” for that would be a lie. But these people can’t be blamed because they learned this misguided information from teachers they thought they could trust but whose own half-baked realization keeps them sticking to a party line that is outdated – namely that in one fell swoop, all self-referencing or self-identification vanishes immediately. I can assure you that this normally doesn’t happen. It’s the stuff of fairy tales told within cultures that long for a one time fix that will solve everything. Awakening doesn’t work that way. The teachers you see claiming that all suffering has ended for them are lying. Trust me. I’ve worked with them, spent time with them and have done inquiry with them. The lies have to stop because nondual teachings are coming close to becoming a scam (if they aren’t already).
After all, it takes courage to come out and say, “Hey I thought I was liberated but there is more ego stuff in me, I’m not done.” Nobody really wants to own that because it opens up the prospect of more years of work to undo what has been left behind in terms of ego conditioning. Bottom line: there are a bunch of half awake Neo-Advaita people (teachers and non-teachers) continuing to spread this misinformation about Neo-Advaita as some sort of magic pill. They are diluting the message of freedom, serving up a plate that is half empty and fooling practitioners that the plate is full, that they are fully liberated. And so the lies continue . . . .
2. Even if someone has a sudden shift through contact with a Neo-Advaita teacher and the shift feels complete, a huge misunderstanding can happen after that. The misunderstanding is that ”just like me, everyone can wake up suddenly and be free of all suffering at once.” Again, tons of anecdotal evidence shows us that this is a rare phenomenon. No one wakes up just like everyone else. Everyone’s experience is different. So if someone has had this sudden shift, they may feel pulled to go out and share a false promise such as “There are no practices needed, you can just wake up fully by attending this or that teachers meetings.” Most of the time, when other people do attend those meetings, the sudden shift doesn’t happen, and they eventually learn that they have to work out some very real human issues before they can truly live in a liberated state. This is bad news for people who were looking for that one time experience that ends all suffering at once. And the misleading came directly from the Neo-Advaita teacher who was also misled by his Neo-Advaita teacher.
For 15 years, I have been translating what the older traditions are really saying (the traditions that started way before Neo-Advaita) and also testing it out in my own experience and with the people I work with. I found that when you peel away the old language from Buddhism and translate it into a simpler language and then help people begin to explore their own experience more skillfully from awareness, waking up happens in a healthier way. These older traditions have a lot to teach us about how to be truly free. But these older teachings are often ignored because the promise of Neo-Advaita is such a seductive sales pitch that it wins over people very easily, but then eventually “fucks them up” once they realize after the awakening that the promise of Neo-Advaita was and is empty.
Helping people work through the human issues either before or after an awakening experience ends with a healthier and more balanced freedom. You don’t need to trust what I’m saying here. Just go hang out at some Neo-Advaita meetings. They can sometimes have the feel of a show being put on by a snake oil salesman. Something feels off if you have done any real work on yourself and your traumas or if you understand that trauma work is necessary for most people. Without work on trauma, a person can walk around all day claiming to be liberated while secretly suffering because they choose not to inquire into that suffering. After all, they were told that the sudden experience is the end of the road and there’s nothing left to do. Nothing left to do? We now know that everyone is traumatized to some degree due to solid western research. Walking around claiming liberation while you have unresolved traumas is like walking around dressed as Santa Claus. Everyone knows you’re pretending, especially those close to you who have to endure the brunt of your unresolved emotional baggage that you claim doesn’t matter because “there is no self.”
Post-Awakening Expectations and
Staying in the ‘Only Don’t Know’
Q: I can’t say that there have been any significant noticeable changes from Cosmic Consciousness to Unity Consciousness, is this common in your opinion? I guess it’s hard not to be waiting for some unmistakable shift?
Imogen: Yes, looking for certain experiences or markers post-awakening can get really tricky and can be counter productive, particularly if your awakening has been a slow unfolding process over many years like yours has been. It could be likened to you sitting in a warm bath and getting used to it, thinking it’s gone cold, then when you wiggle your toes you recognise it’s not cold you just adjusted to the heat.
Here’s maybe a tip for you…. Get curious, play and explore; in doing so you bump into life. Look more at the absence of stuff (triggers, old habits and patterns, old concepts and assumptions that have fallen away or been seen through) rather than a particular experience. Also those around you can be a wonderful mirror to show you what has changed in yourself.
Awakening is not an adding to, but a desolation of old conditioning, concepts, false identifications, and misunderstandings of the nature of reality to reveal the underlying nature and wisdom of your Self – conscious, awareness. It’s also NOT about experiences; spiritual experiences while lovely, are just like more shiny content. Awakening is the recognition that it IS content and YOU are the awareness/consciousness to which that content appears. It would be better described as the clearing away of the veils of ignorance into clear seeing.
But post-awakening the dawning recognition of this clarity can be likened to the power being cut to the ceiling fan but the fan is still turning for a while afterwards. For some it takes more time for the recognition of what has/hasn’t changed than others, especially if it’s been a slow burn so a lot of ‘work’ has been done before. You could still have some strong beliefs or habits stuck in your system that are making it hard to recognise a shift in a dramatic and obvious way. Awakening is slippery and subtle, and certainly not what the seeker expects it to be.
For me it was easier because I had Martyn as a reference point and we had many hours of conversations – I had a post-awakened mentor on tap which was very very useful! This is why I encourage post-awakening sessions to others because it was so invaluable for me. It can clear up a lot of confusion and doubt that still might be running in the system.
Q: I think you are probably right about having some strong beliefs and habits that are stuck in the system. For one I think that I keep going into the mind for verification.
Imogen: Yes looking to the mind for verification…. that will do it!!!
The best piece of advice I can give you right now is…. stay rooted in the ONLY DON’T KNOW.
What I mean by that is… don’t try to figure anything out. It will ALL be revealed in it’s own sweet time. Any answers, any realisations, any recognitions will dawn in their own time, like the sun naturally rises in the morning to clear the morning mist away.
Consciousness doesn’t need to ‘figure out’ anything… it emanates wisdom naturally just like the dawning sun. It’s the mind that wants to know, wants to figure out, wants to have certainty, wants to have answers now, now, now. The habit to look to the mind takes time to disperse post-awakening. Seeing that tendency for what it is, an old habit, helps… then when it happens there’s a remembrance of “oh you again”. There’s no need to get rid of mind (thoughts), just a vigilant eye and a recognition of the mind’s nature to try and pin down. The mind hates nothing more than ambiguity and not knowing.
Keep quiet and take your refuge in ‘only don’t know’. Any wisdom or answers that are needed will come about in their own way, in their own time not through the efforts of the mind, but through the natural outpouring of life tasting life. Only don’t know is the allowing yourself to stay open and not put any stakes in the sand.
The ‘Conversations & Questions’ series comes from snippets of conversations taken from emails, sessions, group meetings or in-person conversations. I take out any personal or sensitive content, but often these conversations have a universality to them that can be helpful to more than just one person. Feel free to get in touch via email, social media or even post your question in the comments below and I may answer them in this way….
I invite you into the fire of life
where the light burns so brightly
on all that is.
The uncomfortable and unfathomable
truth and rawness of this moment
is inescapable and unyielding
leaving no choice but to surrender.
The fire burns bright tonight
and with this
the ground shifts beneath your feet.
The stability that felt hard won
is gone in an instant
taking with it
all sense of knowing
all sense of certainty.
Your heart burns bright
with all possibilities
All that is
all that was
all that can be
held in the infinite fiery embrace
of this moment.
Resistance is futile here
for there is space for it all.
Yes even resistance itself.
The heart surrenders
the fever breaks
and with it
a sense of awe and wonder
that even this
can be included
in your story
Sending love to those who are trying to heal from things they do not discuss.
Sending love to those that have been caught off guard by life in unimaginable ways.
Sending love to those that feel alone and unable to share what they are going through.
Sending love to those that feel they are unworthy or undeserving of kindness, of love.
Sending love to those who are struggling but are still trying their best to survive.
Sending love to those that need it most but feel shame and fear to ask for it.
Sending love to those that suffer silently with nowhere to turn.
Sending love to those in the belly of darkness and pain.
Sending love to those that feel misunderstood and unrelatable.
Sending love to those that are trying their best even when it seems like it’s not good enough.
Sending love to each and every one of you walking your life’s path.
Sending love…. 💜🙏💜
The arrogant one
The fraudulent and untruthful one
The one with complete lack of integrity
The narcissistic and the deluded one
The selfish and self-centered one
The unjust and angry one
The petulant and unreasonable one
The unkind, uncompassionate and unloving one
It is our job to make friends with all these aspects of our self and not just the aspects that are easy to love.
It is our job to find love and compassion for those parts that are hardest to accept.
To forgive ourselves for rejecting and excluding that which so desperately wants to find its place, its home too.
This is the job of work to do.
For if not now, then when? If not you, then who?
This is where life is calling out in pain and suffering.
To love that which is hardest to love, hardest to accept.
To stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, closer than close with the unloveable, unworthy, unsightly.
To meet with space, and love, and compassion those aspects that feel unmeetable.
For there is room for all in this vast space of being-ness, this constant changing play and display of life.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman… probably one of my favourite all time quotes.
Love excludes none and includes all.
Freedom excludes none and includes all.
Life excludes none and includes all.
Can you exclude none and include all?
Can you be the room for both-and not either-or?
Can you bring into the fold, into the inner sanctuary of Being the love, the tenderness and the compassion for even the sinner and tax collector in you.
For it is easy to love your friends, but what about your enemies?
Ideas many associate with Jesus’ teachings, but look beyond the voice that says it, to the meaning and the truth behind it. See what it points to.
The suffering born of separation comes from the abandonment of loving all, the abandonment of seeing yourself reflected right back at you in all of the forms and shapes of life. Be it on a individual internal scale, a familial scale or even a societal and a global scale.
The ability to not other’ize’ and alienate any aspect of life goes hand in hand with the ability to see yourself in it all.
To include and love it all.
To make peace and friends with it all.
find your biggest fear
and make friends with it
get to know its nature
its seeming binds
let awareness penetrate and
light up the corners
of your existence
so that the shadows
have nowhere left to hide
Patience is not just a practice to be kept.
Patience is not just an effort to be continuously made.
True patience comes naturally and spontaneously
when you are impregnated fully with love.
That love which fills every corner of your heart.
That love that knows no bounds,
no time limits,
That love is where the vast and infinite patience for it all is found.
Patience for the journey as it slowly walks its path.
Patience for the moment it takes to find those right words.
Patience for the emotion that takes its time to pass.
Patience for the highs and lows of life to cycle through at their own pace.
Patience for the stories and dramas that get played out again and again.
Patience for the body as it takes its needed rest, its needed pause.
Patience for the constant learning and the seeming wrong turns.
Patience for the endless opening and heartbreak that life inevitably brings.
Patience for the childlike discovery and excitement of every new moment.
Patience for the depth of human messiness that is yet to unfold.
Patience for even the impatient need to move onto the next and the next.
Patience isn’t a practice,
patience is the fragrance of true love.
Because with love there is room for it all.
To meet others we first have to be willing to meet ourselves. To meet ourselves doesn’t just mean to meet the bits we like or are proud of and ignoring those aspects that we wish weren’t there. To meet ourselves means to meet it all, embrace it all, learn to love and accept it all. How can we expect to be met and to meet others if we’re not even willing to go there ourselves.
It not an easy journey, learning to meet all parts of ourselves but the process lightens the load and brings peace and freedom into the heart. We’re then no longer in a cage of avoidance and denial, we’re no longer afraid of what lurks in our shadows because we bring light to it all, we bring love to it all. We bring space so there’s room for it all.
For some the idea of bringing all of ourselves, even our shameful dirty hidden parts out into the light of awareness all at once will feel like too much of a task, too big, too soon. Maybe thoughts will come like “It’s too overwhelming. I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know where to look.” But it doesn’t have to be a big one shot deal, it can be softly, softly, slowly, slowly approach. It doesn’t even have to be a big digging expedition, just start to soften this very moment, lean a little bit more into something that’s arising for you, find the low hanging fruit. Sit with the discomfort as if it were a friend in need, sit with it for a little longer. Bring a tender arm of embrace to your anger or your loneliness, your self hatred or your unmet needs, your sadness, your shame. If it all feels like too much too soon, just find a crack, find a moment where your gentle loving awareness can shine some light and some love on a dark corner. Is there something in you that you previously rejected that you can meet with acceptance instead?
There is nothing in life that is unworthy of love, unworthy of acceptance despite what the mind might say. So the greatest gift we can each give this world right now is meeting ourselves fully so that we may meet others fully in turn. This is how we can heal both individually and collectively. When we allow space for it all, we can move from a place of love and understanding. Instead of feeling unheard, unseen and in turn not hearing and seeing others, can we move from a place of not trying to fix but from a place of real hearing and non-judgment? From here we’re able to offer comfort and even a helping hand that is needed, and not some misguided fix or judgement that we deem applicable before we’ve really taken the time to listen.
This holiday season, give yourself and others the gift of loving presence and the freedom the be exactly as you/they are: love without the binds of judgement – acceptance.
In all that I write and share I only ever want to invite you to explore, discover and ultimately accept the entirety of your experience. To standing in YOUR truth, YOUR self… not mine and not anyone else’s. To encourage and support you to see more and more of the beauty of your expression, even when that expression isn’t how you thought it ‘should’ be.. to accept even that too!
It’s never been about knowing or being anything. It’s never been about gaining or loosing anything. It’s never even been about changing or fixing anything. It’s never been about being more than or less than. It’s simply about coming to see all that you ARE. It’s an accepting, it’s a recognition, it’s the very act of living and being ALL that you ARE. Taking the binds of limitations off and taking a full breath of life.
It’s about walking through life step by step, moment by moment, learning to love all aspects of it. Learning to love even the hate, or the fear, or the shame, or the frustration; even the sadness, or wrongness and definitely the messiness too. Learning to see it’s all there as part and parcel of life. No separate boxes for good and boxes for bad.
Don’t judge any of it. Judgement puts a box on life where there is none. Judgement says this not that. Judgement assumes a knowing… but if we’re completely honest, we’re all clueless to the beautiful mystery of life. If there’s any sort of knowing, it’s a knowing that this life, this beautiful crazy messy life is far too incompressible, far too mystical to rely on any kind of knowing as ‘the truth’.
Life can’t be grasped, life can’t be contained, life can’t be worked out. Life is to be enjoyed and experienced, not to be figured out. You can try, but even that’s just a part of the play too. The dog chasing its own tail.
A multifaceted, multi-sensory experience playing out in its full range of diversity, all part of the dream… All of it arising in and as consciousness. A beautiful, beautiful display of life. A light show of this very moment.
Every cell of my being delights in the exploration and aliveness of living, exploring and playing with this so called life. No expression limited, no expression judged, just one big playful dance with the infinite expressions of life. And for that… for that I am so eternally flawed by life’s ineffable beauty and grace.
To me it’s all an endless expression of love and creativity of life. Expression just for expressions sake. I don’t see any boundaries or limits to what that expression can be, what it wants or needs to be. And in this expression, this expression right now, life seems to want to shout its love from the rooftops.
So what’s left in my heart when all other false boundaries, conditionings and beliefs are left behind, thrown out and dropped, is love. Love and gratitude for all of life. Faith that whatever is playing out for each and every embodied human expression is exactly perfectly as it ‘should’ be.
It’s those moments where we are hardest on ourselves that actually call for the most kindness, for the most understanding, most forgiveness, the most self love. But sometimes that feels like an impossibility, the moment feels too heavy, too overwhelming to bring kindness into the equation. It feels like too much of a leap and too far to go.
In those moments where self love and compassion can’t be found maybe it’s possible to look instead to the ways in which we’re being unkind and too hard on ourselves and loosen the grip just a little, for just a moment. Let some space, some breathing room into the moment. Take a momentary pause and feel the relief and space and peace that that brings.
Sometimes it’s not a case of completely flipping the script, sometimes it’s just the case of simply finding the tiniest of cracks to what is already there. Those cracks can be found anywhere and are waiting and willing to be found. Sometimes the kindest thing that can be managed is to find that single crack in life to take a momentary respite.
When you find a friend where there is no pretence, no mask, no holding back.
A friend that you can laugh and cry and shout and be with no matter what flavour of you is shining through.
A friend who can see you at your messiest but still see your beauty and your love.
A friend who is a safe haven of fierce loyalty and kindness when it feels like the whole world is against you.
A friend who inspires you to grow and stretch into the best version of yourself,
but doesn’t scold you for being at your worst too.
A friend that you have no fear of judgement or rejection with.
A friend that tells you straight when you’re drifting off course but never judges you for it.
A friend that holds space for you even when you can’t hold space for yourself.
When you find that friend
… cherish and nurture them, don’t take them for granted.
For true friends who love you for exactly who you are are hard to come by and a blessed gift of life.
To all those friends who have walked this earth with me for however long or short…
thank you, thank you, thank you.
Fear is a call into the unknown beyond the known, and the mind hates nothing more than the unknown. The mind is the realm of the known, the content of life, but our essential ground of Self is beyond that, it’s prior to the known content. It’s not the object, it’s the subject – the seer, or awareness of the object or content.
And so fear arises because the mind cannot grasp the magnitude and scope of what lies beyond it. It can’t find the edges and boundaries that it looks for. This is because objects have edges but Being has no edges, no start, no finish, no physical attributes for which the mind can grasp on to, categorise and ‘know’.
So arises this fear.
into the unknown.
The fear that it will never get ‘it’. The fear that it can’t control ‘it’. But there is no ‘it’ so both of those fears in a way are very well founded in Truth.
Fear isn’t something to circumnavigate, something to avoid. It’s just a sensation, often intense, arising in awareness. It shows us where our boundaries lie still, it shows us what has already been lit up in awareness, it shows us where our known comfort of the mind is. But who and what we are lays beyond the boundaries and comfort of the mind. Don’t let the presence of fear tell you to stop. Instead make friends with it, it will show where your false edges are. Let it be your guiding light, lighting the path of darkness. Let go into the unknown and you will discover the unknowingness of your Self.
Q: Can you tell me how to get rid of attachment and aversion?
It’s not about eliminating (getting rid of) anything but seeing that it’s all arising in you – consciousness. This is awakening. Experiential focus or identity is shifted from the foreground (phenomena) to the background (consciousness). When this is recognised to be true in your experience the need for elimination of ANYTHING disappears. All is accepted as an arising in you, and this is true freedom. From this, peace is found and suffering is eliminated. Suffering is the lack of acceptance of WHAT IS.
Let me give an example to illustrate why this recognition is actually the most fundamental recognition of awakening.
Just as the clouds appear and disappear in the sky, phenomena (thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc.) are appearing and disappearing in you. Is the sky any less the sky just because it has clouds, or a storm in it? No. Are you any less YOU if there’s something arising in you? No.
We become either attached or averse because we mistake the phenomena for ourselves. We believe we are good or bad, right or wrong if we have certain experiences (phenomena) showing up and so we try to keep or get rid of these things. Consciousness makes no distinction, consciousness is ALL that shows up, ALL THAT IS. No separate piles of good consciousness to keep and bad consciousness to get rid of, no separation at all – just a continuous flow and play of life appearing as different forms and experiences.
It’s only the limited human ego (mind) that judges and says what should or shouldn’t be. If you can see through this and understand experientially (not just intellectually) that this is the futile continuous hamster wheel of the mind, you’ll come to the end of needing life to be anything but WHAT IT IS. You’ll see that the peace, freedom and stability that you seek is in fact right here when the seeking is dropped. When the hands of life let go of the grasping for what ISN’T and accept what IS.
Keep quiet, let all judgements cease, and what you are left with is what is. If this can be accepted into your heart, then you are free, then even if attachment or aversion show up… they will be seen as yet another phenomena arising in YOU, consciousness YOU. And the beauty of it is… you need nothing to be what you ARE.
Don’t be tempted to listen to another’s heart as each heart has its own way, its own movement that when allowed to fully shine sings its own song. Your song is unique and makes you YOU. No wrong notes, no right notes… just YOUR notes.
More often than not all it takes is simply getting out of your own way, getting out of the mind and taking your hands off the tight grip of needs and wants. It takes a willingness to get quiet and innocently listen. The song of the heart never stops singing, we just get good at ignoring it under the weight of expectation.
So let your heart sing with the fullness of its voice, the fullness of its love.
“Crack open the shell of certainty and let the beating heart of life blossom” ~ Imogen
- Martyn took this photo of me the other day and have to admit, I don’t really recognise myself – and this was a bit of a shock at first.So much has shifted these past years and months that the image that I once had of myself, is no longer there, it no longer fits.Now I see a lioness, a strength, a power, a vulnerability, and an openness and it’s beautiful to see. I see someone who is sitting in the pocket of who she is, finally comfortable in her own skin. That process has been amazing to watch and certainly very intense to live.As I write this I get a flash of collective ‘should’ saying “You shouldn’t say things like that out loud, you should be more modest and humble, you’re being egotistical and attention seeking.” But the truth is that to not acknowledge this is to dishonour life and the changes and growth that we all go through. To take a moment to really sink into this acknowledgement, to take stock of the shifts and changes in life is a good thing. It brings with it so much gratitude to life, gratitude to the lessons, the gifts and the humblings that it has shown.It’s not personal, I’m not saying it with a puffed out chest, I’m not saying it for any gain or need for validation; it’s just an observation of what occurs when life is fully allowed to flow and live into every crack, and every corner of existence. When the shell of conditioning is broken. It happens to all of us if we care to look, if we care to let it in. I’m acknowledging the change in myself with the hope that others might be encouraged to take a look and see it in themselves too.I’m pointing this out because I always promised myself to use this platform of my blog to be honest, to show all aspects of so called ‘awakening’, to not sugar coat and present only one side of myself, but to bring awareness to all aspects of life on the path of self discovery, as well as bringing the ideas of awakening back down to earth, back down to the lived reality.In fact I came up with my blog name Beyond Imogen four years ago at the start of this unfoldment and process of what felt like being born again. Now I stand in some ways, completely and totally beyond the Imogen that I once was, almost no remnant is left. But in other ways I am completely and totally Imogen like I never was before. So totally and fully grounded into this experience, living it all without apologies.To not acknowledge this is a false sense of coy-ness. To not acknowledge the power and presence and rawness that courses in every moment is to deny the beauty and vibrancy of life.So I look at this photo and I am in awe, Martyn captured something. He captured the dramatic recognition and effect of just how much has changed.The old Imogen does not exist anymore. This Imogen has a wildness, a strength, and openness, a realness and a vulnerability about her that never was present before. This new Imogen doesn’t care what others think of her, she doesn’t care about self image. She just IS.And I bowed to that.[Photo Credit: Martyn Webber]
I wear my scars
not like armour
that I’m proud of
or a badge of honour
that I boast about,
but as acknowledgement
for what I have experienced.
For the lessons
I have learnt
and as a reminder
of what I have gone through.
They depict the humbling
life showed me.
They are just a part of me
A part that I once tried to hide
A part that I was once ashamed
and avoidant of
A part that I have now
learnt to embrace and love.
My scars tell a story
But it’s just that
They don’t define me.
There’s a tendency to avoid dealing with the subject of mental health in some spiritual traditions and teachings. To poo poo inner work and growth, to try to meditate away ‘negative’ emotions, reactions, thought patterns and conditioning. But spirituality and spiritual awakening is not a panacea, it is many things and in some ways a lot of the “problems” of the mind do in fact disappear. But in some ways post awakening the work and cleanup becomes intensified and it can become even more important to address and give attention to anything that’s still arising. This can be when some of the true work begins, because the strategies that have stopped you from looking beneath the covers of the mind dissolve.
It is the embracing not the running away that allows one to look at where the stored traumas, memories, reactions, conditioning and energetic imprints are having an impact on the current moment, your current experience of life. So in some ways it’s only then that you can truly move through and on from the issues or patterns that may have plagued your life.
We all know someone, or maybe ourselves that have experienced mental health issues, and yet it’s still so hard for society as a whole to acknowledge, embrace and talk about. Why do you think we even need to have a ‘World Mental Health Day’. We’re too quick to try and fix, instead of taking the cues that are being shown. Those cue want to be heard, want to be seen. Not fixed or forgotten about, or covered up, or shoved under the carpet; but instead seen and heard and embraced like a small child looking for love.
There is no manual about how to live life. It’s difficult and there are no singular right or wrong answers that apply to all. But especially when we pay too much attention to what those around us, and society are saying about how we should feel and act and be in life. Often the first thing to go when we try and fit into something that we feel we should be fitting into, is our sense of internal well-being and peace.
The term mental health is a catchall for many experiences and often comes measured against a theoretical blueprint about what it is to be ‘normal’. This is massively problematic, particularly as from everything I can gather, there is no normal. And beyond that… often these things that we fear are ‘abnormal’ about ourselves are actually experiences that our friend, our neighbour, our family member, the stranger on the bus are also feeling and experiencing too.
The mental suffering comes in when we falsely accept that our experience is wrong – that we ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing x, y & z. I’ve often said to people that I encounter along the road of life who tell me that what they are experiencing is wrong or broken, that what if they were an alien who had just arrived on Earth and were told x, y & z is completely correct to feel, what then? What would their relationship to x, y & z be? Would they think it wrong? No.
So it’s often our relationship to how we perceive what we’re experiencing that causes it to be wrong or right, to suffer it or not. What if we were taught happy is bad, sad is good? It’s our labelling of experiences that determines their value and therefore where we derive our sense of value in life. What if we were to drop these labels and sit in the pocket with our experiences. To not run away from the ‘bad’ and towards the ‘good. But to feel all.
I feel this is true mental health. To attend to all that’s arising with awareness and compassion, without labels and judgements of right or wrong.
Mental health assumes there is a good health and a bad health. It measures this good and bad against the idea (or ideal) of normal. But show me normal, find me who it looks like? We have to face facts, there is no one-size fits all. There is no ‘normal’, just life playing out as it does with all its colour and variety, shapes and sizes, all its seeming paradoxes and diversities.
Make no mistake you will be judged and you will be misunderstood along your path of life.
The question is will you hold true to the discovery of YOUR truth, no another’s? Will you stand up for your direct experience rather than someone else’s ideals?
- Letting go of a specific image of safety and security is so tricky. But life calls this of us again and again when we get too comfortable putting our stability and sense of security into objects and ideas that in their fundamental nature can’t provide that for us except temporarily.Can you find your home, your safety, your energy and the warm embrace of love in something far more stable… your SELF?It’s to deepen and sink fully into that recognition and then all the other phenomena can and does come and go without the ‘need’ for you to depend on the ephemeral for any derived sense of stability and peace. Find that which is unchanging in your experience and it will lead you home to an unshakable okay-ness and acceptance of all that Grace presents you with on your path of life. True freedom.
There are none so bright and full of love
than those that have allowed life to penetrate them fully.
Cracked open so immensely and felt so deeply
the depth and breadth of their experiencing.
Leaving no stone unturned, no shadow unseen, no feeling unmet.
Those that have surrendered so tenderly
to the acknowledgement that they know nothing.
That they are but a whisper on the lips of life,
carried in the arms of Grace,
and held in the groundlessness of Being itself.
Their cracked open heart laid gently to rest
at the feet of their very own beloved Self.
- If resistance shows up,then let that resistance in too.Let it wash over you and into youwithout any sense of wrongness.Even resistance in all its gloryis held tenderly in the depths of Being.So fall,fall darling oneinto the heart of surrenderand let life all the way in.Even if only for a moment,this moment is all it takes.