Transformation comes when the old conditioning and ways of thinking that inevitably cease to serve are let go of. Their cracks begin to show, yet there’s still comfort felt in them as they’re known like an old pair of slippers whose time of service has come to an end. But when life is calling for growth and change these old habits being to feel like an increasingly heavy straightjacket, keeping one foot planted in the past. We are never who we were even yesterday and that which may have served us dearly invariably has to be sacrificed in service of what is happening in the current moment.
A step into the new and unknown may seem like a scary risk but let your loyalty be to the NOW. Let your loyalty be with what is opening up before you and you will see the fruits of this trust in life’s wisdom. Even though there may be trepidation, notice how fully you are held. Life comes up to meet you with each step, even when there’s fear, even when there’s hesitation, even when there’s resistance.
Life asks of us that leap of faith, that bold courage as we let ourselves be surrendered to who and what we are in THIS present moment. Let the old fall away and you will find that it transforms and gives way to the infinite possibilities of NOW.
Make friends with that aspect of yourself that you are rejecting or avoiding, those aspects that you judge or deem unsavoury.
That which we reject are often those aspects that require the most love, the most compassion, the most kindness, the most attention in-order that they be integrated into the wholeness of our Being. Those gnarly, messy, ‘bad’ rejected bits of ourselves are often being called to be transmuted into acceptance and love.
For love is the greatest power in the universe. Love has the power to move beyond all seeming boundaries and inhabit every aspect of life. Love has the power to transcend any sense of separation or ‘other-isation’. Love has the power to encompass it all.
So fall in love with all of yourself, all of life, and you will see that that love is eternal and ever-present even in amongst the mess.
‘Peace chaser’ is what I sometimes refer to the phenomena of someone seeking for the outward to always be peaceful so that THEY can then feel like a peaceful and spiritual person (I was one of those trust me….big time…). Spoiler alert: It’s a trap, it’s a red herring, it’s the opposite of freedom, of liberation. It’s a gilded cage of maintaining and trying to keep hold of peace as a ‘thing’. It’s mood making rather than a sign of true spiritual awakening. True peace is not a ‘thing’ to be maintained, it’s not a persona to adopt or a lifestyle to achieve.
It’s a natural misunderstanding, that yearning for peace and looking for it as an experience. It’s not wrong – the intention is good, the search for lasting peace and happiness. It’s where someone’s had a taste that that peace (non-suffering) is possible and so there’s a perfectly natural sense of “I want that, that’s what I’m after – peace”. But unfortunately it’s trying to put the cart before the horse and create what the mind THINKS is peace in the environment rather than ACTUAL abiding peace in the heart.
It’s looking at peace as a prescription to fulfil, not peace as a description of life when lived in and as your nature.
Because peace isn’t quietness and literal silence, peace isn’t calmness and non-action, peace isn’t about not rocking the boat ever again. Peace is not true abiding peace unless it’s there even in the midst of a heated fight, or even when there’s disturbances and constant change. Can you be at peace WITH these moments and what is being fully experienced? Can you be at peace even when the entirety of your life seems messy and complicated and falling apart at the seams? Can you discover the kind of peace that is not dependant on anything in life looking a certain way? Can you discover the kind of peace that doesn’t come and go? (Don’t get me wrong, if temporary peace is all that is available it’s not to turn our noses up at that either… it just will ultimately be unsatisfactory and transient)
True peace isn’t something you can attain and maintain. True peace is a description of something you ARE when you recognise your nature and you recognise the nature of life. It’s a description of the discovery of acceptance and love for WHAT IS – yes ALL. OF. IT. (even if it’s only on a bigger picture level with non-acceptance and resistance showing up in your experience too).
“What? So should I ditch the meditation/practice/technique that makes me feel more peaceful?”
No, not at all – Meditation or spending time quietly, silently, looking inwardly, practicing non-attachment, helps us to see our nature; Awareness that knows all of this, awareness that experiences the mind and all phenomenal content – thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, ‘outside world’ – all of it. Meditation etc. parts or clears the clouds enough so we can see the sky (ourselves – awareness/consciousness/divine nature/god). This feels peaceful not because we’ve gotten rid of the content but because we aren’t grabbing on to said content – we see that we are PRIOR to that content, aware of that content, and we accept that it IS coming and going as this is its nature and we see that WE (awareness) are the only stable constant. We are then able to enjoy (love) this content again because we’re not trapped in the grasping and wanting it to be different than it is – than its nature is.
So peace is a natural byproduct of what happens when there is a deep deep deep surrender and genuine love and acceptance of life in all its forms. Peace is the fragrance of life lived in alignment with the nature of life. Peace is the flavour when we (ego-mind) are not at war with life. Peace is the love and celebration of life – yes even the celebration (acceptance) of the yucky difficult stuff – awareness makes no distinctions! Peace is NOT just a peaceful experience.
So if you’re going to chase something… don’t just chase peaceful experiences… use that opportunity to discover who is the one that experiences this all.
We’re living in unprecedented times, certainly in living memory. And with unprecedented times comes uncertainty and a big step into the unknown. There’s no blueprint to follow. No way forward that can be relied on and measured against. No absolute solutions and answers. We are left flailing in the open-ended unknowingness of the moment, searching for a new ‘norm’, and whether we like it or not we’re called to stay nimble, stay fresh, and change with the moment.
So can we find peace and contentment in the midst of this, in the midst of uncertainty?
I would argue that this is much of what the spiritual awakening journey shows us and a lot can be learnt and mirrored from it for these current times.
Much of what characterises the spiritual quest is the breaking down of what you thought to be true and the emergence of a fresh perspective, often conception free and open with a lack of grasping at life – at least if you’ve really got down to the bottom of the quest. Or if you like – a spontaneous lived in the moment, unconditioned view of life. This requires a radical unknowingness and uncertainty because certainty is born of held beliefs based on, or built on, previous concepts of the conditioned mind.
When these conceptions begin to crack and fall apart we are left in a space of groundlessness with nothing to hold on to. A step into the wonder of this moment, like a small child without knowledge and ‘shoulds’ of how the world is.
The stability IS the uncertainty and unknowingness. Life becomes a playful exploration of whatever is showing up. No past or future are referenced, just an intimate and raw relationship with NOW.
And so I would argue our current state of affairs is similar. We can’t rely on past, because there is nothing of comparison on this scale that can be directly applied to right now. And we can’t rely on the future because we don’t know what that will bring. So what we are left with, not as a booby prize, but what is uncovered as the previously unseen gem, is this present moment.
Let this moment be known not by measurement and comparison, but by its direct felt and lived experience. The wind on your face, the sound of the birds, the person in the next room moving about, your beating heart and your breath as it moves through your lungs. Hold no reference point other than your direct experience of this moment. Hold no ideas in the mind of how this moment should go or shouldn’t go. Let this moment BE as it IS.
This is peace. This is contentment.
When there is no conception of what should be happening, you’re left with what IS happening. And if there is no should, there is no judgment.
A space opens up around this experience. The cage of the mind dissolves and you’re left with the wide open space of NOW.
But the other big piece to this puzzle for me is in the form of love. When you allow yourself to just simply BE in this unknowingness, this nowness, you’re placing no blinds on yourself or this moment. You are acting in the most loving way possible. You are not placing a limit where there is none. The loving acceptance of the full expression of life as it intimately unfolds.
With this peace quickly becomes joy. Joy is the loving expression of when peace is known in the heart.
When the dreams of imagination fall short despair finds its way to the surface of your awareness.
Despair is what’s left singing its sorrowful song and haunting the corridors of imagination when the is-ness of life has other plans for you.
Despair is felt deeply when your life fails to live up to the mind’s impossible standards.
But despair is also a gift.
It gives a clue, an inkling, a map of discovery into where there’s still loyalty to expectations and conditions.
So make friends with despair, ask it to show you what secrets it hides under its facade. What dreams were lost, what false realities were kept on its pedestal of desire, and what binds it still places on life that are yet to be released.
Despair as a yardstick to what we hold as sacred is a true gift. It leaves us with no doubt of where there’s still a chasm between our fanciful ideas and the lived reality.
So don’t demonise and pathologise the emergence of despair, it’s there for a reason and that reason is ultimately love.
When we find love and acceptance for the deepest depths of our reality, despair is finally laid to rest in the home of our heart.
“Love sometimes looks like having strong boundaries”
Story time… Boundaries are something I’ve always struggled with, in fact it’s probably been THE number one struggle in life for me. While it’s almost unrecognisably night and day compared with how it used to be, I still do struggle with it because that conditioning is so well ingrained. But luckily life shows up in ways to test where I still have trouble standing in my healthy and necessary boundaries.
And so boundaries is a topic I’ve shied away from writing about up until now, not because I don’t want to (believe me I’ve started to write about boundaries countless times!) but mainly because it’s such a big topic for me that I didn’t even know where to begin – posts ended up rambling and jumping all over the place. I think it’s also difficult because I’m still walking it, I’m still living the learning and growing from it. It’s raw, it’s intimate, it’s a big unknown because I’m not talking of a subject that’s all wrapped up in a neat bow, it’s woven throughout the fabric of my story in ways that I’m sure I haven’t yet gotten the big enough perspective of time to see some of the bigger lessons and themes fully. It’s coming, it’s happening, which is maybe why this is getting written right now.
Through my difficulties I’ve learnt that setting and keeping boundaries can actually be THE MOST LOVING AND HEALTHY THING that you can do when relating to both yourself and others.
A few years back this was a new and wildly scary one for me to accept. Like I was stepping on to an alien planet where all the rules had been turned upside down and I couldn’t fathom this is could actually be true. You see, somewhere along the line I had picked up the idea of the opposite of this being true; ‘No’ was not something acceptable for me to feel. No was not kind, no was not loving, no meant you were selfish and unreasonable, unloveable even. No was negative. No meant you were protecting your ego and if you were in a constant state of yes-ness to life then you were surely spiritually evolved.
In fact in my childlike innocence and ignorance I somehow misunderstood (or probably heard in a way that fit my learnt conditioning) that spiritually speaking if this was all one unified consciousness… then there ARE no boundaries… boundaries were false conceptions of the ego-mind to be gotten rid of. Somehow ‘no’ as a healthy and natural expression of life got twisted up into that idea of boundaries = bad. See… told you I had big issues and misunderstandings to unpick around this stuff !!!
‘No’ equated to wrongness for me and so I used to think my no’s were a pathology, a failing, a bad girl, an unlovable aspect of myself. I continually ignored them to the point that quite early on in my life I struggled to even say the simplest of no’s or ask for what I needed. This led me into a dark place of not only people pleasing and putting myself second to the point of mental and even on occasion physical danger. But more importantly it also led me to the point where I lost touch with my intuition and self knowing light. It put me on a path of having too many internalise voices of ‘should’ rather than being able to recognise my inherent and wisdom-filled true voice of Self.
For me it’s be a long journey home to this wisdom of self boundaries. So long that initially I didn’t even realise how off course I was because my boundaries were so covered up and hidden that when someone encouraged me to have my own boundaries, I felt lost, I felt confused, I felt like they were actually doing something wrong TO me, not helping me!
No’s are still in many ways uncomfortable for me. I still on occasion have a voice (yes albeit a very faint one now) that gets me almost looking over my shoulder as if I’ve done something wrong. But I’ve learnt that a ‘no’ honours yourself and in turn honours the other in that you’re not doing something that actually breeds resentment in your heart. Others can trust you then, trust you to communicated with them where you’re at, even if they don’t like what they’re hearing. Your yeses are true, clear and authentic and nothing is going unsaid and festering, there’s no reading (or misreading) between the lines.
I’ve learnt to love my no’s. I’ve learnt that “no” is a complete sentence too!! I’ve also learnt that my spontaneous natural expression is that of going with the flow (enneagram 9 anyone). As it happens my heart IS a (mostly) continuous yes to life, not as a pathology but because that happens to be in alignment with the most loving action and least resistance for me – acceptance… I learnt my yeses through learning about my no’s, so when there is a no… that no is to be listened to and to be trusted and honoured. That no is accepted wholeheartedly. That no is a sacred part of life. That no is just as much of a yes to life. That no, in that moment IS the most loving expression of life.
- I saw an article about a popular video platform (ahem… shall remain nameless) banning “medically unsubstantiated” content today… It’s not the first thing I’ve seen in recent weeks and months on various platforms that brings into question freedom of speech and censoring of content all in the name of trying to curb “misinformation” or “fake news”. Once upon a time misinformation or fake news would have been to call the earth round rather than flat. It would have been a heresy to suggest it even but science and understanding is a constantly evolving thing, a working hypothesis rather than an ‘Absolute Truth’.Lack of freedom of speech honestly terrifies me as a proposition for society. It’s not even the thin end of the wedge… I think we’re past that analogy. I understand the imperative need to work and pull together as a collective, especially right now but not in the name of shutting down exploration, not in the name of shutting down thinking outside of the box.To try and calcify and control life’s expressions and evolution is madness. And while I do see a lot of weird and opposing views and opinions out there, even those termed as ‘truth’, I think it’s up to each of us to use our brains, do some research best we can, and ultimately follow our intuition on what works for us rather than have the whole thing taken out of our hands and centrally controlled. When did we become children who have been put on the naughty step by our ‘parents’??? Is this really how this whole thing has to go?
A Tug of WarRight now I feel we’re in a tug of war between fear and love, Ego and Primordial Being, and this is one of the ways it’s showing up.I feel the censoring of speech is always based in fear because in love there is room and freedom for it all, room for the exploration of it all. Truth, if it’s truly true will win out. To shut down exploration in favour of maintaining the safety or security of the ‘norm’ and the protection of the current popular theories or understandings of life, is the death of inquiry, the death of growth – generally and spiritually speaking.To explore our assumptions and current working truths is to kick the tires and the strength of our lived reality. When did dissenting views become such an evil thing? I feel it’s never a bad thing, and it always leads to greater and greater clarity and understanding. Yes it may feel messy and uncomfortable, yes it may look polarising and argumentative or contrarian… but this is only amplified if we hold tightly to knowingness and rightness. Even those tightly held beliefs will not hold up as the cracks of exploration begin to widen.Love and truth are the ground by which all is held. Love shines into the heart of life, bursting open any untruth. The unexplored darkest corners of existence can be lit with a single tiny light so I say… let love win out over fear. Be that light, be that love. Fear is control, fear is lack of love, fear is lack of acceptance, fear is lack of playful and vigorous exploration of life. But fear is not a drop in comparison with the power of love.It saddens me when I see this world more and more devolving into fear, into control, into lack of questioning and lack of freedom to explore. I may not agree with what your view or current working truth is, but I will go to the ends of the earth to defend your right for genuine exploration and freedom to express that. Love doesn’t control, love honours and gives room to differences.Just think of all the beautiful and amazing evolutions of understanding that occur through people stepping outside of the conventional norms and daring to discover, daring to explore and daring to follow love not fear.
Q: How does one receive shaktipat? How does one receive anything?
Practically speaking nothing need be ‘done’ to receive shaktipat, other than a general ‘yes’ and open-heartedness to life’s possibilities – I’d say this is true for receiving anything, from love to physical gifts and help, or even hard lessons in life. To receive is to be open and humble to receive.
Shaktipat doesn’t require your belief or faith per se, more an openness (even just a little will do) that goes beyond non-belief as this can deliberately close you off energetically to the potential spiritual growth that can come through a transmission – or any other form in life for that matter! I myself was incredibly skeptical, but still open to the possibility of shaktipat before my own direct experience became the testimony for its potency and lasting transformation in my life. It took me by surprise, and often still does…
But I get the sense you’re asking a different kind of question here, a deeper more existential one that requires a more nuanced response.
Shaktipat from the non-dual view of reality
So… how can one ‘receive’ shaktipat if this is all a singular non-dual reality of consciousness?
It’s a good question, one I have frequently found myself contemplating because the idea of ‘transmissions’ seems to be inherently dualistic, predicated on the idea of a separate giver and a receiver. But I always find myself coming back to this – that there are ‘working’ explanations and understandings of life from the relative view, i.e. the appearances or content arising IN consciousness – me and you. But ultimately all is only truly resolved at the level of unity or the absolute view, i.e. that the non-dual reality of consciousness is all there is – all else is an appearance IN and AS that.
The relative or dualistic view of life contains wisdom and truth if taken on its own level of understanding, but ALL conceptions and descriptions (even notions of duality vs non-duality) eventually collapse into silence if taken far enough. Fundamentally I feel life is a mystery to the limited human mind and so any attempt at codifying and explain it falls short of capturing the ineffable wholeness of the experience. Yet as a species, throughout time we continue to try to… go figure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So yes, in absolute terms there is only consciousness. No me, no you, no transmission, no awakening, and so how could one ‘receive’ shaktipat and spiritually awaken from said transmission?! And yet life plays out in this and infinite other ways. Consciousness forms differentiated undulations and textures of existence forming a ‘giver’ and a ‘receiver’ and the appearance and effects of a transmission all in the name of waking up to and knowing itself.
So as far as shaktipat goes, sometimes the story of spiritual awakening turns up in this form along a person’s journey or path. Is there really giving and receiving? Well, if you take it as a description of the apparent duality nested within the context of the ultimate unity of consciousness, appearing in myriad forms – sure. For my part I’ve seen the direct effects of shaktipat enough times now to see the validity and reality of it in terms of its potency for awakening on this relative plane of existence.
Simply put… it’s both true and untrue to talk of ‘receiving’ shaktipat. On the relative level the giving and receiving of shaktipat takes place as a means to awaken one to their nature as non-dual consciousness, which then gives way to the recognition that all is just appearances OF consciousness, TO consciousness, IN consciousness, and AS consciousness.
The ‘Conversations & Questions’ series comes from snippets of conversations taken from emails, 1-on-1 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…
You feel say you feel undeserving and unworthy of love but may I remind you that you ARE love. Love courses through your very being, it is the fabric of your existence. To say you are unworthy of it is like saying the sky is unworthy of being the sky because it has clouds in it.
Just because life shows up in a multitude of ways, some of which we deem ‘bad’ does not make you unworthy of love. In fact it makes it all the more necessary to discover the underlying truth of that love that pervades all and that is the groundless ground of it all. It becomes all the more vital to discover the ground of your love so that you don’t get caught in the belief that this or that thought or action IS all there is to you.
Make no mistake your messy humanness in all its manifestations IS part of your divine love story. It is an intimate part of you. Part of your path, part of your love song. Just as a knot in a tree trunk is part of the tree. But the thing that courses through your veins and through your very being IS love.
So cast aside these notions of worthiness with regards to love. You cannot be separated from the fabric of your existence and that fabric is the fabric of LOVE.
Did I Miss My Chance for Awakening?Q: I feel like it’s too late for me, I missed my chance of awakening.Too late… too late for what and for who? These are fears born of the mind, see this and you shall be free of this fear. “Too late” suggests awakening only happens in certain circumstances under certain rules and conditions, that you only get one chance at it, or that it’s only available for a finite few who deserve it. These are ideas and implications built from the mind (or learnt from others) about what awakening is or isn’t and allowed to run free with the fear of ‘missed chances’.But awakening doesn’t happen TO the person, awakening is FROM the person. It’s not anything the person DOES to achieve. It is the seeing through the facade of the person and in many ways it’s Grace that places that insight in the heart of you. Awakening is the description of consciousness waking up to itself, of consciousness knowing itself. But you are already consciousness whether your mind sees this or not.It really only comes down to a pernicious belief stuck in the mind and taking false ownership over this all that leads us to believe we are a person in a world of separate persons. Awakening is a living breathing continuous unfoldment of seeing this, not a static knowing… every moment fresh and new. Not an opportunity to be missed because of this action or that action, because of worthiness or unworthiness.Awakening or the realisation of conscious-awareness as the ground of your existence is your birthright and it’s available in this very moment as it’s already present in your current experience. So where is your attention in THIS moment?Right in this moment, release and put down any thoughts of past or future, right or wrong. Just BE here NOW. Have your loyalty be to this moment – Nothing to do imagination, nothing to do with past, nothing to do with future, just here, right NOW. Don’t be tempted to pick anything else up… let it all come and go as traffic passing you by. Don’t mind the mind, let your place of repose, your refuge be this present moment that includes all and excludes none – don’t get caught in the limited trappings and imaginations of the mind. Transcend AND include the mind and it will be seen as just another appearance in life, nothing to take too seriously.It’s the mind that says “I’ve missed my chance” but life is infinite chances, infinite moments, infinite love.Fall in love with THIS moment again and again and again. Have no thought of tomorrow, let your loyalty be to NOW. Let LOVE sink into the very fabric of this moment because in love there is room for it all – all missed opportunities, all failures, all strivings, all chances.
The ‘Conversations & Questions’ series comes from snippets of conversations taken from emails, 1-on-1 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…
A life of freedom is to embrace it all.
The highs AND the lows,
the light AND the shadow.
To celebrate each moment
as entirely divine and magical,
yet fully ordinary and mundane.
To enjoy the textures and colours of existence,
without judgment or division.
To be able to fall in love with it all.
The silence AND the noise,
the calm AND the chaos.
Life is here for us to enjoy,
because life as we experience it
is a continuous celebration of existence.
Where there is seeming conflict and opposition
sink into the resolution in the heart,
where there is room for even the most extreme of paradoxes.
Where there is grief and regret
surrender into the compassion and understanding of the heart,
where there is forgiveness for it all.
Where there is confusion and doubt
allow yourself to swim in the unknowing mystery of the heart,
where no answers or definites are required.
Where there is striving and longing
let go into the heart of this moment,
where everything is perfectly unfolding without exception.
Welcome each moment with the fullness of your heart,
with the fullness of acceptance and love for all that life is.
Give your existence to life itself.
Let your life be a celebration of that.
[Photo credit: Martyn Webber]
Oh Merciful Love!
Is not this love a universal love? A universal and all forgiving love.
You fear your actions put you beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness.
But what is unforgivable in the eyes of love?
Grace has no such judgements of deservedness or not.
Grace seeps into the hearts of all those who welcome her, of all those that open their hearts to the possibility of love.
There are none so evil, so bad, so unredeemable that cannot be seen in the light of love when the understanding of what makes us do what we do is given space to dance.
Grace is merciful, Grace is kind, Grace fills the air with the loving embrace of a mother unconditionally accepting her children back into the fold, endlessly time and time again.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are unworthy of love.
Unworthiness comes from the realm of judgement and assumptions of action being unforgivable.
Just look deeper: all action yearns for love, for wholeness, for acceptance.
In its way all action comes from love no matter how misguided and utterly messy the results may be.
So let us fall ceaselessly in love; let us fall fully into the arms of Grace.
We all have a relationship with faith whether we’re conscious of it or not.
Faith in your self
Faith in your body, in your health
Faith in human nature
Faith in your ability to know fact from fiction
Faith in your resilience, your gifts and aptitudes
Faith in your power and your drive to achieve
Faith in your learning, in your knowledge, your education
Faith in your spiritual practice or your meditation
Faith in your loved ones, your family, your friends
Faith in society, in community, even faith in government or systems
Faith in gravity and other in scientific explanations of life
Faith in something more than yourself, a higher power, an unseen force of life
Faith in nature, in mother earth
Faith in God, Gods or Goddesses
Faith in the divine
Faith in love
Faith in trust
Faith in truth
Faith in life
Even your non-faith has faith in that
So can your faith be greater than your fear? Can you let yourself surrender into faith rather than go with the contraction into control and mistrust, where you lose sight of that faith in life to show you the way no matter what? Can you choose love and trust of life over the fear of the unknown?
Faith requires faith in just the next foot forward, a step into the unknown, a step towards that which draws your heart to it.
Whatever your faith is in… let yourself fall fully into that until you find it opens up into the recognition that life couldn’t have gone any other way; that which is true was always true and that which is false has its wisdom too.
Have faith that in the end you are exactly where you needed to be all along.
Boy oh boy it’s been an intense year so far! I’ve noticed a massively heightened presence of energy in myself and had others report the same since around the end of January, before the covid-19 situation really took hold in much of the world. But I had no idea what was coming and it’s become the new norm, the energetic intensity and the ground shifting beneath the feet, only time will tell where or if it will settle.
Overall I feel there’s also a beautiful opportunity right now to face the things that are being forced to the surface of experience, many of which were always already lurking in the shadows, with compassion and kindness – both on an individual level and a collective or global level. I’ve actually been blown away by the kindness and love I’m seeing on both small and large scales, it’s incredibly heart opening and beautiful to see that our nature of love shines through in times like these.
The ground is shifting quickly beneath our feet and that mirrors the process of awakening in a way. It’s the dissolution of the certainty and assumptions of stability that were being falsely held on to, falsey nurtured, lent on and relied on. I’ve noticed that those that tend to fair better overall are the ones that can handle living in the unknown and uncertainty, better still those that learn to fully live in the trust and joy of life… this could be said for both awakening AND the current global situation.
There many right now needing to self-isolate and step back from the busy day-to-days of life and this gifts the opportunity to look inwards for comfort and solace rather than outward to the changing content of life. Gifting the opportunity to find that which IS stable in you – your Self, thereby allowing all else to move and shift and change as it inevitably does, all the while not holding on to anything.
There are many parallels with awakening I feel right now and while I don’t want to hang my hat on any bold claims or anything like that as I feel time will tell… it seems like many are being to be asked by life to take a leap of faith and step more and more into the unknown and into trust, and let the old or false certainties fall away. If we let that happen for ourselves life opens up into a different space, a space where what we once relied on doesn’t serve anymore, a space where we have to look to a deeper truth.
For me, trust has been my biggest friend through all this. Letting myself surrender even deeper into trust and love rather than non-trust and fear has brought the most solace and comfort, even… dare I say it… joy and peace.
Some Practical Advice
(take whatever’s useful… leave the rest)
On a practical level I’m aware of both my own and many others creeping fear and uncertainty due to the current pandemic unfolding before our eyes. I don’t think much of the world is exempt from being affected in some way and I’ve had many people reach out to me in the past weeks looking for help with coping or just to simply connect. I just want to say my heart goes out to all those affected with this in anyway, big or small, there’s no doubt we are experiencing extremely choppy waters right now.
But I thought I’d share some (I’m sure they’re others) of the more practical things that I’m implementing or bring increased awareness to right now, as well as advising others to do that ask this question of me. They’re easier to qualify and get your hands on in terms of feeling like you’re ‘doing’ something useful…
• Stay present – Going into thoughts of future is where 99% of our fears and worries come from. Every time the mind wanders into the future… even tomorrow, come back to now. Feel your feet on the ground, your breath as it moves your chest, your heart as it beats. Let yourself ride the wave of what you’re going through in this moment without going to the mind where it’s all about the future, what ifs and judgment of the situation. Focus on the felt experience of this present moment. Come back and keep coming back, out of the future or past, out of the mind and into NOW – now is always about the felt experience of now.
• No labelling – Keep the attention away from labelling in the mind and on the direct felt experience – no labels or judgements necessary here… No rights or wrongs even, just another wave in the ocean. Just feeling into anything that’s arising, allow what is there to be there but don’t invite it for lunch, let it pass through. Allow your attention to rest on the physical and energetic sensations of the body rather than the mind. If you’re having trouble, start with the focus on the breath, don’t control it or judge it, just notice it.
• Separate practical and emotional – Deal with emotional/energetic first, once centered and calmer, less charged or triggered, less overwhelmed then you are clearer and freer to deal with actual practical as it comes up… again not living in the future and what ifs, just one foot in front of another. If there’s a decision to be made that you’re having difficulty with… keep quiet, focus on the emotional and energetics of what you’re experiencing, let that pass or at least acclimatise into your experience and then you will be quieter to hear life’s answers and solutions as and when they come up, not pushing for when that ‘should’ be. It’s not reaction then, it’s what needs to be done without the emotional overlay and charge.
• Minimise TV news consumption (and tv generally if that helps) – I never normally watch tv but have been tuning into news this past week. My gosh I’m shocked at the energetic imprint it leaves! I can feel the collective energy of fear so powerfully and it definitely amplifies my own. So if you can stop, or at least minimise your exposure. And if you do choose to watch be aware of the potential effects on your already overactive physiology. Reading the news for me is a better and less impactful way of staying informed, just sticking to the briefings of the government rather than the media’s inflamed opinion pieces. This also applies to social media too…
• Find the positives – Find things that are real and true in your life in THIS moment – like: I am safe and healthy, my kids are safe and healthy, I have a full belly of food, I have a roof over my head, I don’t need to do anything or go anywhere right this minute. In this moment everything is fine.
• Self love – Taking time for yourself, even if you feel you don’t have time… do it – even 10 minutes of meditation, or 10 minutes in the bathroom giving yourself a foot rub or a massage of your face or shoulders! Meditation, satsang, calming music, a walk in nature, quiet time with a book, whatever that looks like to you. It’s so important for us to be able to take care of others to be first in a good place ourselves. It’s not selfish, it’s 100% necessary.
• Talk it out – Find someone who will allow you to voice your fears and feelings without inflaming, judging or trying to fix. Someone who you feel safe with to take off your mask of ‘okayness’, a compassionate ear that lets you process what you’re going through out loud. Sometimes it’s too overwhelming to sit with our emotions and energies, if this applies to you… talking it out can help, just choose very wisely who that’s with.
• Be kind and patient with yourself and others. It’s a difficult time for many, emotions and energies are very high. Be aware of this, let anything that happens wash over you, don’t hold on if possible. We are all dealing with things best we can, yes you included, yes them included. Sometimes that looks messy, but that’s still the best that it can be in that moment. So be forgiving of yourself and others.
Stay safe out there and I’m here if you feel to reach out.
In these difficult times it’s all the more important to make peace with this current moment. To stay grounded in the reality of now, right now, not 5 minutes or 5 days from now. Panic and fear almost always appear in regard to future, in regard to next. Don’t forget to take a moment, take a breath, stay out of the mind and come into the now…
Bring the attention to the breath, to the body, to the energetic arisings of the felt experience. Don’t be tempted to label, judge and fix, just notice quietly and innocently your present moment awareness where there is room for it all.
All emotions, all thoughts, all sensations – you are the ground, the vessel for them and that vessel is only ever in this present moment. Let this moment and all it’s content wash over you like a wave moving in the deep sea ocean, or a cloud passing in the sky.
Have this moment be your refuge, your safety, your retreat, your place of comfort and solace.
Fall in love with this moment.
Make peace with this moment.
This life is sacred.
This body is sacred.
This mind is sacred.
These emotions and these thoughts are sacred.
This fear and this grief is sacred.
This existence is sacred.
All of life’s existence and expression is that of consciousness.
Awareness-consciousness makes no distinction between the ordinary and the extraordinary,
no distinction between the humanness and the divine.
For all is the playground of existence.
All is the sacred emanations of life.
All held in the embrace of awareness.
Do not presume to know better.
Do not presume that your minds judgment of what is holy and what is not
means anything in the eyes of consciousness.
For even the messy, fearful and supremely human expressions of consciousness
are sacred and beautiful moments dancing in the light of awareness.
Even the protestations of right and wrong,
the valuing and the rejecting of this or that,
even these too are sacred expressions to be experienced and tasted fully.
Can you include it all?
Because how is it possible to not?
Can you really truly reject anything if even that rejection is included too?
That which turns up as us and in us is there through Grace,
it’s there as the wisdom messenger of life,
it’s there as the sacred actor on the stage of life.
So don’t cast aside any aspect of your experience so quickly.
Don’t belittle and shame your sacred humanness.
Let life dance in you and as you in it’s holy uncensored way,
beyond the logic, beyond the reason, beyond limits and conditions, beyond it all
– just as it is.
Post-Awakening Integration & Releasing Old Conditioning
Q: I’m fearful of what will happen as I continue on this journey of awakening. It’s coming up right now because working with you these past weeks I finally experienced a shift into Unity Consciousness and see the integration deepening as well. But the fear is mainly there because after my initial shift into non-duality a year ago I had a pretty traumatic time of instability and integration where I couldn’t function in the world very well. I don’t want to go back into that unstableness and overwhelm that came with that first major shift. I’ve felt this sense of “My God what is coming next, what if it’s like the other time?” And while it’s not been like that at all this time so far, I still have a little bit of fear of “how will this be?” I feel I can’t make plans because I don’t know how I will be in the coming weeks and months and this scares me.
That you will hit against a major period of instability is an assumption and definitely not a certainty at all. What I can say is that you will go through what you need to go through, but it rarely looks exactly the same. Especially once you’ve gone through something all the way to the bottom and it’s done. The next time it’s got it’s own flavour and shape to it, but it’s never the same.
So on the topic of stability I can’t offer you any guarantees, but I doubt it will look the same as it did a year ago. You’ve been through a lot since then, and a lot of wisdom has been embodied and a lot of trauma released and integrated.
But in the broader sense it’s also a good lesson for life really, that actually we can’t plan and we really don’t know what life will throw at us at any given moment. In many ways life gives us what it needs to give us for our evolutionary and spiritual growth. In some ways we are at life’s mercy and any plans are pretty futile unless they are just seen as a sketch.
To me this is where faith comes in – the trust and love of life itself to show us the way. This is why I use the word Grace so much, because to me, it’s all Grace and it’s all a gift. There’s an assumption generally that gifts are nice. But gifts are not always nice, nevertheless they are gifts because they show you something, they give you something or they teach you something. Life doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle and the human capacity is phenomenal. It blows me away to constantly see the resilience and capacity of human beings.
But I understand that fear and while the appearance of fear in your experience needs to be fully acknowledged rather than ignored, I also encourage you to question whether that fear is actually calling on something in you to go into it, rather than away from it. Our mind plays all sorts of tricks and what-ifs but what’s happening is not necessarily any of the things that you fear it will be. Often the presence of fear is actually fear of the unknown itself. The mind wants certainty but life inherently can’t provide that for the mind.
Recently I’ve been getting many people coming to me with similar stuff. They’ve already awakened and have stabilised in that recognition and yet they’re struggling with integrating aspects of life to varying degrees. Some struggling on little things and some are struggling in a big way. But the answer is the same – going into the experience, not away from it. There’s a subtle assumption that all prior ‘issues’ will be solved upon awakening. It’s not true! Sometimes there’s even a feeling of “I shouldn’t be dealing with this stuff anymore, I should be done with it, I thought I’d be done with all this ‘personal’ stuff.”
Q: Yes I’ve noticed there are quite a few people that are struggling so much with this, “I just can’t deal with more and I wanted it to go away, I want it to f**k off. Really, I just can’t deal with this.”
I recently talked with someone who post-awakening everything’s been going great for a good while and then they hit this similar sort of thing. There was still a sense of, “Okay, so this is arising and I can sit with this for X amount of time but at some point, okay, now it needs to be done.” And so sitting together we came to the discovery that there was this sense in them that “Okay, now I should be done. Now you need to go.” And it’s actually at that point I believe, it’s the learnt conditioning that’s still present kicking in and is saying that something shouldn’t be the way it is.
And that’s the point at which they needed to hold it closer, get more intimate with whatever is arising. Not in terms of “I need to keep this” but in terms of, if there’s a sense arising of, “Okay this needs to be done” that’s when the most self compassion and attentiveness needs to be present. That’s when the most space, the most attention, the most acceptance, and the most love needs to be felt because that’s actually the call inward right there. It’s the call out of the head and into the heart of awareness. Into the subtler, a-conceptual nature of life where the call of acceptance for all that arises is heard. But the conditioned mind has a tendency to go, “Right, I’m going to throw a stone in the bush, and I’m going to distract you”. This is because it feels the attention and the sense of control slipping away from itself (the mind).
To me that’s a handy little hint indicating that you need to break out the ‘inner child compassion’. Where you go, “Okay, all right, you want to be done but that’s just a subtle form of rejection. We can sit here for as long as you need to be here. You can be present and you are free to go when you need to go as well. But I am not going to give you any rules to live by.” I won’t sugar coat it, it’s really hard to break that particular conditioning. To break that cycle of feeling like, “Okay, now I’m done. I’ve been at it for a couple of years. Now is the time to get my reward, time to get the good stuff. Now it’s time to be done with all of this”.
But it’s actually when you lean into that feeling that the space of emptiness opens up. And that’s the space of love and the fulfilment of all the things that we’re searching for. That’s where you find all of life, all of love and it’s not a goal, it’s just the natural fragrance and emanation of it.
Q: How is it for you when these things come? Because I know you also struggled lots with this initially post-awakening.
I still do occasionally. This is the thing people don’t get and so I try to be really honest with this because there’s the assumption that I don’t struggle is in of itself an idea that perpetuates the idea that “It’s just my problem. No-one else deals with this. (S)he’s got it all sorted out. (S)he’s done. I’m wrong, I’m broken. When I’m ‘awake’ I’ll be fixed.”
And it’s not true. Not true at all.
Q: But does it arise in the same way as before?
I would say the intensity, length and the frequency are much less, mainly because when I see it arising, there’s not a breath of hesitation in that I know what this is. I’ve been through it enough times. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I know what needs to be done now. So I hit up against these pockets. They’re like coal seams in the way that you’re going along in life and you hit up against a pocket. These pockets in life show up sometimes, it’s not like you have to go digging for them. It could be a new situation that you hadn’t bumped into before, or an old school friend, or any number of things. But now I recognise it, it’s familiar and my body recognises it. It’s not even to do with the mind anymore, it’s just that I physically recognise it and I allow and greet it like an old friend.
Not only do I allow it or put up with it but I love it too. And I don’t mean I smother it in love, what I mean is I accept it, I allow it and I am compassionate to that aspect in myself that is arising. I don’t try and reject it, I don’t try and push it away, I’m compassionate with it and I give space to it. Whatever’s coming up needs to be there and it’s calling for my attention. The way I respond to it is almost with the attitude of that’s the least I could do – not because I should but because that’s what feels most true and loving. That I can give it my attention in the moment, that’s the least I could do. So I give it my attention and my love. I give my attention to all these other things in life, why can’t I give that thing that is coming up the same level of care and attention?
Q: Yeah, so true. And when you do that do you feel it doesn’t take long for you to move through it?
It depends. It depends on the level of intensity or the size and depth of that pocket. Sometimes it’s a tiny little thing and I barely notice it even before it’s gone, it’s only a momentary something. But sometimes it might be a couple of hours or even days that are needed to attend to what’s coming up. They’re much less frequent now, those kind of big pockets. But they do come up. But also I haven’t got the attitude of ‘needing to move through it’ anymore, as if what’s showing up is wrong. I accept it fully as part of the current of life.
But as an example, I had one come up a few weekends ago. Some situation came up and I recognised it was something that I hadn’t dealt with since almost the beginning of mine and Martyn’s relationship. It had been in the background all this time, so much so that I hadn’t even noticed it was still there because it hadn’t actively come up in so many years. And then this big pocket came up and, whoah, the intensity of that was so vivid, so raw. I spent a sleepless night just sitting with it very intensely. I was watching this process of the mind and the body literally trying anything it could to get out of this situation that it found itself in. Any excuse to not sit with it and include it, integrate it or embrace it, and to instead run far away from it. But I found myself saying to myself, “Okay, all right, it’s okay, you’re trying to get out of the situation and I hold the space for that even.” Even in that desperate mind-body attempt to avoid the crap that was being felt, I was present and holding enough space for that. So yeah, it still happens for sure.
You see I’d done very little ‘work’ before awakening compared to the depth that I discovered was needed to be held, healed and integrated post-awakening. The intensity of what I felt a couple of weekends ago was what it felt like pretty continuously for many months initially post-awakening. I’m amazed I got through it in those early days, but I did, even though there were times where I felt that I might not make it – quite literally. It was quite unexpected, the level of intensity for me. It’s probably why I put so much focus on helping others in this way now.
Q: It’s the same for me. It’s so much less and not so frequently now than a year ago.
These things do pass in really a relatively short period of time but we think that it will last forever when we’re in the midst of it. Even the intensity of those first few months and year(s) post-awakening, when it feels like it will go on forever, in time it’s seen as only a small part of your life story.
I feel the processing of these pockets could almost be likened to when you get just a little bit of a song stuck in your head. Round and round the same chorus or the same couple of bars of music or something and you cannot for the life of you get it out of your head, no matter what you do. You have to be finally willing to play the song all the way through to the end, otherwise what happens is you get stuck on the little brain worm of a couple of bars or the chorus over and over again.
And so the willingness to do that has to come about. And it’s not something you can force because sometimes you’re just not ready to go there and do that. But eventually whatever is coming up has to be played out, and when it’s played out fully, it’s done. Then in the future, when something comes up, it may be very similar but it won’t ever be the same thing exactly.
So surrender is actually what is required. It’s that surrender and freefall into the allowing of the full song to be played out. I feel it’s actually the only way eventually.
But sometimes we’re like “No, no, quick, quick, I want the song to be done”. But the song has exactly the right amount of beats, the right amount of words, it’s got its rhythm, its pace. It’s the full length of the song and you can’t speed the song up and end it any quicker, you also can’t slow it down and keep it going.
So the recognition of this process brings an ease to it in itself actually because then you get to learn your rhythm. You get to learn the rhythm of this song playing out, and then it becomes less alien. You’re no longer thinking “Oh what is this?” And I think that’s the thing that comes in time is the recognition of, “Oh, this is what’s happening. This is nothing to be afraid of”. It’s actually old stuff that’s coming up that needs to be processed. It needs to be gone through instead of trying to push against it.
Q: Yeah, I can’t do it, even though I’m trying to escape it for sure unconsciously, and sometimes consciously. But it’s impossible. I have to stay with it.
And maybe you’ve also noticed the more you don’t listen to life, the louder it gets. Learn to actually listen to that intuition and trust it. For me, I feel it in my gut, but I think other people feel it in different places in their body – but it’s never the mind! If I ignore that intuition, and the more and more I ignore it, the louder and louder the lesson gets.
Q: Yeah. Before awakening I could only see the results of ignoring my intuition later, maybe some days, a week after. But now it’s instantaneous.
Yes, it’s keeping you right there in the present moment process. It’s life’s mechanism for keeping you honest and truthful to yourself. Sometimes those intuitions go against every rule, go against every idea that society has about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. But you cannot not listen to it because it is the right thing for you. Even if seven billion people tell you it’s the wrong thing, it’s the right thing for you and only you will know that. Being centred in your heart and not your conditioned mind you’ll know if it comes from a true and honest place of Self intuition or if it’s coming from layers of conditioning and ego. Awakening certainly makes it easier to see those distinctions.
Once you let go of those layers, or once those layers have dissolved and gone, each of us has the answer to life in this moment. Not the answer that it ‘should’ be, but the actual natural, spontaneous answer to every moment. It’s comes from truth, your truth, not my truth, not anyone else’s truth. Just truth, your truth.
I feel we are conditioned into so much shame and wrongness with our experience. It’s very difficult to go against that conditioning or break it, but it’s very simple in terms of the work that needs to be done. So the reconditioning, or the deconditioning of that shame and that wrongness is a big part of the post-awakening work and embodiment in many ways. Because it’s going away from the ‘shoulds’ and into the ‘what is’. But you really physically feel that shaming, that wrongness in your body, and it’s hard to ignore.
So I think wrongness is a big one to get over for most people. When we have a conditioned sense of wrongness for whatever’s appearing in our experience, there’s a voice that says “This is wrong. This isn’t correct. I shouldn’t be feeling this. I shouldn’t be going through this. I shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be”. When we recognise this to be false the release that we feel is that relaxing into the sense of “Okay, this isn’t wrong. This really isn’t wrong. None of it is. It’s all perfectly as it is”. The release of any sense of wrongness is to me so powerful.
I feel there’s actually no such thing as ‘wrong’ experientially speaking. Because the idea of wrong automatically creates a sense of separation between something correct in consciousness and something incorrect. But if it’s appearing, or happening, surely this IS consciousness, this IS life too!
Q: Yeah. I’m doing wrong, I’m being wrong, and the shame of many different things.
For most it’s been a lifetime of that, this is why it takes time and it can be a difficult one to fall away. We talk about there being no time, yes, it’s all now. But at the same time, in the paradox, there is time too, and it takes time for these things to unwind and unfold. It takes great patience and great forgiveness of oneself.
Q: What do you think the difference is between dealing with these things post-awakening and pre-? Is it easier? Is there less resistance?
Before awakening it’s difficult to really deal with and see a lot of the conditioned behaviours because the ego-mind strategy and structure is working against this in many ways. Functionally it’s protecting the mind and self image from going into the depths of held beliefs where it all begins to fall apart and be seen though. But a certain amount of ‘work’ can be done as you go without a doubt. I personally just wasn’t very successful at this, or rather I should say my mind was very efficient at building structures to avoid this! Post-awakening a lot of these false structures and identities dissolved or at least were seen through, so this is when there was true openness to have it all arise. The brakes came off, so to speak.
Generally I’d say after awakening what happens is that there’s an acceptance of whatever is arising. There’s nowhere else to go, there’s nothing to be done that isn’t already happening, it’s just what is arising in consciousness. And so the human experience is very raw in that way because you’re faced with whatever’s coming up in your life. So that’s where I’d say there’s lack of resistance – you can’t hide from life, it’s just happening.
Even in that recognition and acceptance, resistance or fighting against something can still show up. But the meta of that is that there’s a complete acceptance somewhere in there, maybe deep down even, there’s the acceptance that “Okay, this is what’s happening”.
This sounds like a very ordinary and obvious thing, which it is, but it’s the full acceptance of the recognition that there’s nothing else other than this. This is what life is presenting right now. This is what is showing up in me. And so therefore it’s not wrong.
But that can take a little bit of time to come to trust this as old conditioning still plays out that says otherwise. So initially this can feel very groundless and there can be a lot of fear that can come up with that. The rules of right and wrong in regard to experiences get thrown out and you’re just left with the suchness of life.
If you’ve been conditioned to believe that the feeling of groundlessness is wrong, that you’re a broken human being if you experience that, then that can bring up a lot of embodied trauma and fear of uncertainty. You can intimately feel that sense of groundlessness, the emptiness, the void; but the mind interprets the lack of control and the lack of anything to hold on to as threatening to itself. It can feel like life or death to the conditioned mind, and this can take some patience and courage to work though as life gently guides you to see that it’s actually not true; that groundlessness is the ground of your Self and it’s nothing to fear.
But even in this post-awakening process of unwinding old conditioning and integrating the current lived and embodied experience, fundamentally there’s a recognition and acceptance that whatever is showing up simply is. It’s not even right or wrong, it just IS. And what is is not personal, it’s just an arising in consciousness.
The ‘Conversations & Questions’ series comes from snippets of conversations taken from emails, 1-on-1 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…
It’s okay to honour someone’s differing opinions or experiences while still standing in your truth…
You can both be open to another’s view and know your own, all at the same time without any sense of compromise or confusion. It doesn’t have to feel like either/or, you can leave room for it all.
Life is quite adept at containing seeming contradictions and paradoxes within it. Where we make rules for how life ‘should’ be there will always be exceptions to this. My feeling is that this is absolutely no mistake… It keeps us open and nimble to all possibilities. It helps show us that there really isn’t anything you can hold onto on this relative plain of existence, just temporary appearances.
In this way life becomes a playground of experience; a banquet of taste and texture of phenomena. A full spectrum of colourful embodied experiencing, there for us to enjoy.
Along the way of the spiritual quest of Self discovery there are as many teachings, teachers, techniques and paths as you can shake a stick at. Many claim to be ‘the best’ or ‘only way’ and this plays into the seeker’s mind of “missing my chance”. But life shows us the untruth of this if we care to take a look.
Life is constantly providing opportunities to point back to the underlying nature of reality. The unified consciousness appearing in multi-faceted expressions that is life as we know it.
We need not worry about “am I following the correct teacher/path/teaching?” or feed the envious thoughts of “is the grass greener over there?” Have faith in yourself, trust your intuition and follow your nose. For your way into self discovery cannot be compared and judged by anyone else’s measure. Your path towards the liberation of your Self clarity from the limited ego-mind is mapped out perfectly for you. There are no wrong turns, no dead ends.
Yes, use teachers and pointings but hold them very lightly. See them as a tool, a mirror. Don’t be so attached that when they cease to serve their purpose, you have trouble distinguishing between what you have learnt from the outside and what you have discovered in your heart.
Sometimes we literally have to cast out that which no longer serves us. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t honour that it once did. We don’t have to reject or redact it out of our life story. But our maturity says, “this served beautifully that period of time, now is time for something different.”
Don’t stick with a teaching out of comfort, loyalty or fear. Honour that which you are drawn to not out of reaction but out of love. Stick with it because it points you back to good questions, methods or experiences of insight and discovery that ultimately lead to yourSelf. If it resonates and sparks curiosity or joy, take it all the way to the bottom until it transcends itself.
Have faith in your way and let life show you which turn it wants you to take next.
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.
~ Imogen Sita
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