“Crack open the shell of certainty and let the beating heart of life blossom” ~ Imogen
- Martyn took this photo of me the other day and have to admit, I don’t really recognise myself – and this was a bit of a shock at first.So much has shifted these past years and months that the image that I once had of myself, is no longer there, it no longer fits.Now I see a lioness, a strength, a power, a vulnerability, and an openness and it’s beautiful to see. I see someone who is sitting in the pocket of who she is, finally comfortable in her own skin. That process has been amazing to watch and certainly very intense to live.As I write this I get a flash of collective ‘should’ saying “You shouldn’t say things like that out loud, you should be more modest and humble, you’re being egotistical and attention seeking.” But the truth is that to not acknowledge this is to dishonour life and the changes and growth that we all go through. To take a moment to really sink into this acknowledgement, to take stock of the shifts and changes in life is a good thing. It brings with it so much gratitude to life, gratitude to the lessons, the gifts and the humblings that it has shown.It’s not personal, I’m not saying it with a puffed out chest, I’m not saying it for any gain or need for validation; it’s just an observation of what occurs when life is fully allowed to flow and live into every crack, and every corner of existence. When the shell of conditioning is broken. It happens to all of us if we care to look, if we care to let it in. I’m acknowledging the change in myself with the hope that others might be encouraged to take a look and see it in themselves too.I’m pointing this out because I always promised myself to use this platform of my blog to be honest, to show all aspects of so called ‘awakening’, to not sugar coat and present only one side of myself, but to bring awareness to all aspects of life on the path of self discovery, as well as bringing the ideas of awakening back down to earth, back down to the lived reality.In fact I came up with my blog name Beyond Imogen four years ago at the start of this unfoldment and process of what felt like being born again. Now I stand in some ways, completely and totally beyond the Imogen that I once was, almost no remnant is left. But in other ways I am completely and totally Imogen like I never was before. So totally and fully grounded into this experience, living it all without apologies.To not acknowledge this is a false sense of coy-ness. To not acknowledge the power and presence and rawness that courses in every moment is to deny the beauty and vibrancy of life.So I look at this photo and I am in awe, Martyn captured something. He captured the dramatic recognition and effect of just how much has changed.The old Imogen does not exist anymore. This Imogen has a wildness, a strength, and openness, a realness and a vulnerability about her that never was present before. This new Imogen doesn’t care what others think of her, she doesn’t care about self image. She just IS.And I bowed to that.[Photo Credit: Martyn Webber]
Make no mistake you will be judged and you will be misunderstood along your path of life.
The question is will you hold true to the discovery of YOUR truth, no another’s? Will you stand up for your direct experience rather than someone else’s ideals?
There are none so bright and full of love
than those that have allowed life to penetrate them fully.
Cracked open so immensely and felt so deeply
the depth and breadth of their experiencing.
Leaving no stone unturned, no shadow unseen, no feeling unmet.
Those that have surrendered so tenderly
to the acknowledgement that they know nothing.
That they are but a whisper on the lips of life,
carried in the arms of Grace,
and held in the groundlessness of Being itself.
Their cracked open heart laid gently to rest
at the feet of their very own beloved Self.
Your humanness is a gift to be cherished
not a dirty little secret to be hidden
It is divinity in it’s expression
ALL . OF . IT .
Don’t be tempted to run from it
Embracing the fullness of your experience
reveals the fullness of love
it reveals the emptiness of your core
and reveals that there was never anything to run from
and nowhere to run to
I have a secret to tell…
I sound like I know what I’m talking about
but in truth I live entirely in the unknown
No stakes to place
No walls or ceilings or floors to hang on to
life is a free-fall of continuous newness
It’s a leap of faith and trust
and it’s the ever present continuation of acceptance
I have no opinions
and no agenda
nothing to rely on
or anything to lay claim over
I see life as a gift
and all the content that shows up in it part of that gift
Most people are so quick to try and pin down life
to make rules to live by
find positions to take
and opinions to have
But to step into the unknown is to step out of the mind of conception
and into the realm of Grace
into the realm of Self
into the realm of awareness
logic will do you no good here
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.
When we experience a strong emotion or felt response to life there is a call to be present, a call to sink into it. It’s not the moment to run away and avoid. It’s not the moment to reject and try with all your might to change the course of life. Life is giving you a gift, an opening, the natural call to Self, the great unknowing by which all becomes known, accepted and loved. Don’t be afraid, the call into the unknown is the call home, the call to the ground of your Being, it’s the natural call of freedom and peace. In this moment attention is your true power, your place of healing. The only doing is the seeing, is the accepting. Tender loving attention embracing the aliveness of life.
There’s an impulse to avoid difficult and uncomfortable feelings. To reject them and cast them aside, to deny their existence. We think we can exert mind over matter and control our inner world, think positive thoughts and all will be okay. Yet when we do this we push these experiences into shadow. We don’t resolve them, we hide them, we sweep them under the carpet.
Life includes in it the whole gambit of human experience, all feelings, all sensations, all types of thoughts and emotions, the whole spectrum. By judging what we experience as good or bad and trying to ‘keep’ good experiences and ‘get rid’ of bad experiences then we are limiting the wholeness of our expression. We’re putting ourselves in opposition to what is, we’re creating tightness and limitation where there naturally isn’t any. We’re trying to control what turns up in our life, a futile and unnecessary battle.
So instead don’t listen to this learned conditioning of avoidance, break the cycle and embrace all, reject none and find freedom in the wholeness of your existence.
I find it funny that the further into this journey of life I get into the less and less ‘spiritual’ I become. Granted, I never self-identified as particularly spiritual, but at least outwardly I certainly was a card-carrying member of the ‘spiritual seekers brigade’. I was brought up surrounded by spiritual types, I meditated from aged 6, I want to a spiritual consciousness-based school and university. I worked for companies where every single employee was a meditator and spiritual seeker. I’ve lived in spiritual communities and Ashrams. I’ve lived like a monk, albeit a married one, but a monk nonetheless (and I still do pretty much live like one).
For a while my focus was well and truly on the abiding recognition of awareness
I was asked the other day how I deal with being around others, particularly when there’s a level of pretending or not speaking your truth that seems to be required of you.
I too know all too well this feeling of suffocation in the company of others. The subtle unsaid permissions of what you can say, which topics you can touch on and how deep that can go. The unsaid permissions that someone can’t give for fear of threatening their own sense of Self, views and place in the world that they hold so tightly so as to keep the facade of security and knowingness intact.
I think this is why the idea of Sanghas can be so enticing, a place to commune with others who were of like mind and place in their journey of unfoldment, of seeing. A place when you can find common ground and openness, common experience and views. Alas it’s not as easy as it sounds to find the ‘right’ sangha!
You are lucky if you can find this in a partner or in a close friend or two – this is what I have with Martyn and this is what I am eternally grateful for. Alone together and full permission and delight of me to be me and him to be him. The freedom to be as we are, the freedom to plumb the depths and go anywhere – no ‘sacred cows’ that are off-limits.
You asked how I deal with the difficulty of pretending with others. Firstly I take plenty of time to go into my aloneness, isolation and unknowingness and revel in the freedom to be. This place of ‘only don’t know’ is such a beautiful place to be. Beautiful and vulnerable. Delicate, embracing and loving but powerful and full of strength. It’s in this space that we can truly see ourselves and breath in the fullness of existence. Taking this time of solitude is incredibly important, especially for me being the hermit and introvert that I am.
But these days when I am with others I find myself laying it all out to bare, trusting in this process and letting the chips fall where they may. Standing in my truth, being open and honest and trusting. Trusting that even if I get push-back or hurt that I can handle it, that they can handle it too and the freedom to be me, the freedom for them to be them is much more important than any particular outcomes. It has meant the loosing and changing of many relationships, but it has also meant the discovery of those relationships that can withstand this vulnerable nakedness of openness and truth that I find myself standing in.
Then of course there are those relationships where masking and pretending is absolutely necessary. Practically speaking I try to minimise the amount of time spent in these types of interactions, that certainly helps. Making sure that I do have plenty of alone time and nourishing relationships where masking and pretending isn’t needed so that there is capacity for those relationships where it’s not possible. Also in those interactions to find as much openness and compassion as is available in any given moment. To not shame or blame the need to protect, defend or set unsaid boundaries, but honoring and accepting those boundaries where we find them. Understand that they are often there for a reason, even if it’s a reason I (or they) can’t see or understand.
From a broader view of this topic generally for me it was the attachments to outcomes and desires in terms of interactions and relationships that had to go. The attachment to the desire of people liking me, people seeing me, the desire to looking a certain way, to be loved or even liked. Even the attachment to the desire to connect deeply or in a certain way, to be understood and acknowledged.
The power in the lack of attachment has been enormous for me, scary but completely freeing. I have nothing to lose, I have no rights to certain outcomes of how I think things should go. I just am who I am in any moment, it’s raw and risky feeling but it’s real and honest. And so in this I’m eternally grateful for what I do have, for all that comes across my path, forget about ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
There is only so much that one can repress and suffocate themselves, the cracks begin to show. The holes start forming and things start to escape in more violent and unpredictable ways.
I encourage you to breath into the fullness of your experience, let the chips fall where they may and find those moments, those people, those spaces, those pages even, where you can freely be YOU.
There is a mask that we’ve all experienced. Many even have several masks, each for a different set of circumstances, a different set of people. The mask that you wear for your boss is not the same mask that you wear for your grandmother, which is not the same mask you wear for your friends. All a partial view of who you are, what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.
But what happens when the cracks in the mask begins to show? What happens when that mask full of pretense and fake smiles becomes heavy and suffocating? When the toll of not showing the full range of your human experience, showing your whole vulnerable self becomes unbearable. What happens when you find that mask slipping off or not fitting anymore? So what then?
Can you leave the mask off, let it fall away, step out from hiding behind it and accept your reality? Or do you go back to trying to shove it back on and avoiding? What if it was supposed to crack, can you accept that? Accept that life has other plans for you right now, plans that you maybe can’t see, and certainly can’t control.
Can you be brave and stand up straight, hold your head high and walk forward into this next moment without reference to past, without wallowing in self pity? Can you hold your arms up to life and say, “Okay life, I’m ready for what you want of me, I’m here, I’m open and I’m listening.”?
If you say you’re done wearing this broken mask a million times does it make it so? Saying “I’m done” doesn’t make it so. BE done. Not tonight, not tomorrow, right now. It’s an action and a movement that rises up from within. An action that you can notice happening spontaneously. An action of Grace saying not next, not back there, but here – right now. Stay present. Drop any thought that says otherwise. Cast aside any thought that draws you into past and into future.
Life is making the wearing of this mask too painful, too impossible. So listen. Listen to life. Life is making it clear… “no more mask”. Can you stand true and listen to life, can you open yourself up to that vulnerability and stand naked without the safety of your mask, your mask that is so painful, so heavy, so constricting. What happens then? What happens when you set aside your mask and stand naked without it?
You are believing yourself to be weak and small, but maybe the cracks that you’re trying to hold together with sticky glue and tape actually were correct all along. Maybe they needed to break open. Maybe you can’t be contained by this false mask, this false shell anymore. Maybe the light that shines from within is making its escape through those cracks.
You find your life is falling apart. So what makes you think that it’s correct to try and tape and hold it back together? What happens when you let go?
I know it’s difficult. But when life falls apart you have two choices…. try and put it back together or acknowledge it and move on. Acknowledge that life wants something else for you, life is going in a different direction for you. So which will it be? The old or the new?
You’ve interacted with life in a particular way, with the mask and conditioning that has got you this far. Now life is taking that away from you. Now life is giving you the chance to move in a different way, without these crutches. They were only ever temporary, they were always going to fail at some point.
Life is for you, not against you. But it’s not necessarily in alignment with the mind’s ideas about what’s best. It’s in alignment with what’s actually needed, not what you think is needed. So where does your loyalty lie? With the mind’s ideas about what’s best, or life, reality, truth? Do you hold on to these ideas, or do you move forward, boldly step into this moment of life, raw, open, vulnerable but most of all with the strength of conviction that this is the only way. Will you falter? Will you stay loyal to the past? Or will you bow your head in acknowledgement that life has far bigger plans than the mind can conceive of.
When a door closes life is giving you an opportunity to walk through the window that it has just opened. To try another way. To leave behind the burdens of your past, to let go of the heavy mask of personhood. This is your chance to step up, to step out, to move beyond yourself, your small, controlling, afraid mind. To step into the darkness of unknowing with the light of Self and say, “Not today, today I make a different choice, today I choose myself not those doubts and fears. Today I take off my mask for the last time and stand free in the vast expanse of it all.”
Step into your new reality, step into your own light. It’s right here now and it cannot be overshadowed, it cannot be taken away. It’s right at the core of your being and you don’t need to run away from it any more.
All your choices have led to this, they are not something to be ashamed of, they are not something to second guess. Your choices ARE your path, your path has lead you to crack open, for the mask to become unbearable. Your choices are choice-less and so all you can do is accept that it’s all Grace. Every single choice, every single thought, it’s all Grace. Grace doesn’t pick and choose, it’s all of it. The sun doesn’t pick and choose what flower to shine on, it shines on all.
Don’t dwell on your past, it will do you no good. Accept where you are, see that it’s all meant to be exactly as it is. Life’s showing you that you’re not in control and whatever is happening is just part of your path.
Let your old life go, let it fall apart and be ready and willing to step into the great unknown, ready for Grace to show the way. But you can’t take your baggage and past with you. All you have is this moment. Your past does not define you, this moment does, and this moment is gone as soon as it came. So be undefinable, just BE.
Where you see brokenness and endings, I see beginnings and the shell of personhood breaking away to reveal your true Self – open, fresh and full of possibilities.
You have all the tools, all the things you need in life. You are not lacking in anyway. You are not broken, you just need to accept all that you are… accept even the seeming imperfections into the wholeness and you will see that your light was there all along… hidden under the rock of self doubt, strategies and egoic-mind. But the light of your true Self is far too infinite and vast to be hidden by a rock.
Emotions, traumas and experiences, all of it are life’s way of showing you that it’s alive and kicking. Don’t be tempted to create separation where there is none. You contain multitudes and that’s a beautiful thing…not something to run away from, minimize or control. But something to be embrace, accepted and integrated.
When you notice the pernicious tricks of the mind creeping in, simply let go and return. Let go into the unknown. cast aside the tendencies of the mind to grasp and ‘know’. Notice this dynamic and let go, anything other than this simple act is a distraction.
So notice and return to the core of your being… everything you are, everything you think you need, right there at the bedrock of your experiencing all that time.
You are perfect.
Life is such and unbelievable gift, how often do you stop and smell the roses? Appreciate the little simple ordinary moments? Without reference to the past or thoughts to the future.
We miss the beauty of the moment so easily. Ordinary life has become so throwaway, so undesirable. Instead marked with the next glamorous instagram shot, the next big ‘experience’, the next enviable goal. Next next next. We miss the sheer joy of this extraordinary, but divinely ordinary moment.
Whether that moment be filled with anger, joy, sadness or bliss it doesn’t matter. Just the fact we are alive, that we bear witness to all of this. Oh the magnificence that
This morning I came across a beautifully articulated post on Facebook by Unmani (one of many I might add). She recently unexpectedly lost her husband and has been sharing openly her journey/processing throughout this difficult time – it’s beautiful, raw and brave and I see that this is very much what she is being called to do, for the benefit of herself and for all those who read what she writes.
“Walk through life with the palms of your hands open to what life brings;
no clinging, no denying, just this – what’s here right now.” – Imogen
“As long as you want life on your terms there will be something to gain or lose;
the opposite of freedom.” – Imogen
I have gone from living the (American) dream… good job, beautiful house, wonderful friends, two beloved cats, more stuff than we could ever want or need, plentiful money, gorgeous and loving husband – I wanted for nothing… and now I have nothing (except the husband of course 😜 I’ve still got him thankfully).
We have no home – not even a real base, we move from house sit to house sit every few weeks, new place, not knowing anyone, not knowing the area, living out of a hand luggage suitcase. No money to speak of – most people would be shock at how little we live on right now, no possessions – I literally mean it when I say all we have is a hand luggage suitcase each that fits all our stuff, no friends or people we hang out with (because of the said nomadic lifestyle) – just us two 24/7. Nothing really that we need or have to do, no purpose or meaning, no ambition and drive, no desires.
And yet I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. So happy I could cry sometimes with overflowing gratitude and love for life as it is. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I make no judgements either way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about this particular lifestyle being the holy-grail answer to suffering, it’s not like we ‘chose’ this, it just sorta happened that way. I never set out to live like this, and I hold no position on it… this could all change tomorrow.
I know this because it’s happened before, pretty much over night, the day Serenity died changed everything, we pretty much walked out of our full lives in Fairfield, Iowa to this…whatever this is………
It’s about living in truth and freedom in each and every moment. I live in the unknown, it can be uncomfortable for most to hear/imagine that, but is where I live, it’s a choice-less choice. There’s no in and out of this, it’s just my reality, where all of life is lived from and as. Raw unadulterated living.
The love that I feel in my heart is sometimes overwhelming. The love for all of it, all of life – doesn’t matter what that looks like… the beautiful, peaceful, messy, ugly, complicated, happy, raw, blissful, simple, mundane, inexplicable, ordinary, extraordinary life that I am honoured to be experiencing.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you
Look at the world as if you know nothing,
don’t draw any conclusions
about what you experience,
or who you are.
Innocently move through life
experiencing what is
without the burdens of ideas,
judgements and conclusions.
Take each moment a fresh,
knowing that this moment will never be again.
Lovingly embrace each experience of life,
how lucky we are to have the play of life
grace us with its beauty and light.
Embrace all, reject nothing –
see that you are the master of none but the father/mother of all.