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.
Interview by Phil Escott for the Carnivore and Beyond Podcast talking about spirituality, awakening and ancestral health. For more information about Phil go to pureactivity.net
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….
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
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.
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.
- 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]
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.
- 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.
One of the biggest helps for me to move beyond my conditioned responses and traumas and to heal and integrate them has been learning how to cope with strong and intense emotions – which for the record I was pretty fantastic at avoiding for most of my life!
I would say that when all the strategies for avoiding no longer worked the only way to turn was through and into them. It was a case of let go or be dragged but turning into them was definitely the last thing I would have originally thought would be of help, go figure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
For me this was learning to hold emotions and energetic arisings like you would a small child in a loving embrace, to pull them closer and say, “It’s okay you can be here. I don’t need you to change or be gone, you don’t need to be fixed or healed. You can be just as you are for as long as you need. You are also free to leave if and when you’re ready to as well.”
It was Adyashanti that first introduced me to this idea of embracing not running away from difficult experiences. To lovingly hold what is arising tenderly closer than close in my heart with the deepest compassion and patience, to let whatever is showing itself to just BE. And in this way whatever is coming up in the moment gets to be fully heard and met, not cut short or rushed but just patiently allowed for as long as needed. There’s no waiting or willing anything to be gone, just the full acceptance that if it’s there, then it needs to be there. To unconditionally allow, accept and embrace with compassion and tenderness.
And so in this I have learnt to not run, to not avoid, to not change or reject, or try to morph, transmute or even heal anything. But to just innocently and patiently accept and love anything that can and does show up in the field of experience.
This was and is one of the most powerful tools in my tool box of life, allowing me to come to a place of deep peace and okay-ness with whatever shows up. I’ve also noticed over time this has spontaneously become a big part of how I meet others too, it’s seeped in not as ‘something I do’ but as a by-product of meeting myself this way continuously. The work started with me.
I know there’ll be those of you well versed in non-dual teachings that will ask “yes, but WHO does the work?” So let’s not be coy and beat around the bush…. yes there’s no ‘I’ to ‘do’ the work but you can be damn sure that nonetheless the work sure does show up to be done! And for me it was almost as if that work could only really truly begin in earnest once the false ownership of ‘I’ was let go of and the inevitable flow of life came rushing in.
I don’t have any method of teaching or techniques to hand out, but if I were asked what was most helpful to me where the rubber meets the road in terms of the practical embodiment of life; the act of tenderly embracing whatever showed up was the most pivotal turning point of my experience. Whether you take that as a prescription or a description… I leave that to you to discover.
Do not shrink into smallness
Let yourself roar and feel fully into your inherent power.
Your power is found in the courage to be you,
to fully present ALL of you.
To cease with the judgements and accept all of your wholly divine messy humanness as your own.
To not second guess and hide yourself for fear of shame and judgement from others.
To let them see you, really see you in all your glory, in all your power.
Power is not an ‘evil’ blunt instrument that gets indiscriminately wielded around.
Power has many faces.
Power is found in full on vulnerability and openness
Power is found in the soft tenderness of heart
Power is found in the depths of sadness and heartbreak
Power is found in all the bits of yourself you can’t yet met
Power is found when living on the knife edge of exploration
Power is found saying no in order that you follow your yeses
In love and acceptance, there power resides.
So don’t be afraid to stand in your power.
Don’t be afraid to turn up to your life in a completely unapologetic way.
Own your power, don’t shy away from it.
In relationships we have to trust and we have to communicate. It’s a constant leap of faith to say the things that we think they won’t want to hear and we won’t want to hear the answer to, to constantly face the fear of rejection and hurt.
But if you do take that leap of faith and trust, then it’s my experience that life constantly surprises you. It’s such a beautiful thing, but it’s scary, terrifying in fact. I’ve been with Martyn for 15 years and it’s STILL scary. I still have to take a breathe at first sometimes before I say something that is tender and edgy for me, something that I’m not sure of his response to.
This feeling of fear doesn’t disappear over time, you just get used to it. You learn to know it, you even learn to love it because it tells you where your edge of comfort is. It never fully feels safe to share those things that you don’t want to share, because it’s NOT safe. It never feels safe because when you reach an edge of yourself it’s ALWAYS scary. It’s not about the other person, it’s about you. It feels scary to you because you can’t guarantee the response and that’s terrifying, and that doesn’t stop.
If it does then you’re living out of truth and in a fantasy of your own making, because the truth is you can NEVER guarantee what’s going to happen, or what someone’s response is going to be.
So speak even though it’s scary, give them and yourself a chance to deepen and grow. Relationships aren’t easy. They never stop being a constant leap of faith. It’s very much a part of it, and that leap of faith is happening every single second if you’re lucky enough to be in a nurturing relationship. If you’re lucky you are relating new and fresh every moment, every second without reference to past or future and that is both wonderful and terrifying.
It’s opening your chest up, your heart, and trusting. Sometimes your heart gets hurt, but if it stays open life and love goes even deeper than the hurt and that is truly magical. Because with great risk comes great reward.
That risk is terrifying, love is terrifying, so it’s okay to honour that and feel that. But I encourage you to step forward even so, to open your heart wide. Only you can do that. Love is magical, love stretches you to capacity and then stretches you some more.
Love is all there is.