- 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 so much of my spiritual path/story that I haven’t yet shared on this blog or social media. Not because I feel the need to hide it, I’m not particularly attached to privacy even, but because I’m still living it each and every moment. The implications not yet seen, the fullness of understanding not yet known. And yet the more I walk this path, this world, the less and less the need to understand, the need for certainty seems to matter to me.
These days I find the words are there less and less. The *need* to communicate less and less. But somehow these last few weeks it feels like there’s an elephant in the room that I’ve not been addressing, in the past few months its been somewhat stopping me from publicly writing more than a few snippets here and there. More and more my private writings seem to be addressing this. There’s been a shift in my focus, but somehow to talk of it I feel the need to contextualise it with my story a bit more.
10 years ago today Maharishi Mahesh Yogi died.
I remember the day clearly, we were in the Dominican Republic on a holiday marking our 1st year wedding anniversary. I turned on the TV (probably the only time I did) to see it on the BBC news tick-a-tape completely out of the blue – “THE BEATLES GURU DIES”.
At the time we were living in the epicentre of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) moment in the US; Fairfield, Iowa, the place we had called home for the last 2 years, and would go on calling home for the next 7 almost 8 years. But TM was much more to me, it was something that shaped and formed my whole life, my formative years, something that I had inherited, 20 minutes twice a day, as natural to me as brushing my teeth, I never knew life without it.
I learnt TM when I was six years old
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
Wow I feel like a lion has been unleashed. This brutal honesty in service of truth that cuts with the precision of a well known blade is quite a surprise to me. This sharp intellect that can spar and duel with words unknown to me, spilling out like nobodies business.
There’s still a tendency that’s been around all my life – that when confronted with an assertion by someone, to shy away, to back down without even looking, to assume that they must be right… “who am I after all? I know nothing.”
The image of relationships and enlightenment don’t normally go hand in hand. The stereotyped image of the ‘enlightened monk’, shunning the material householder life is something that’s been around in spiritual traditions for a long time. So out of this there comes the common misconception that you can’t be in a relationship and be successful on the ‘spiritual path’. But being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that awakening can’t be there too. The relationship doesn’t have to go, only the attachment to the relationship has to go. Don’t get me wrong, the result of that dropped attachment may actually be that the relationship ends. Ultimately that’s what was meant to happen, and all attachments do eventually fall away – what’s left is what’s left, maybe the relationship will be there, maybe not.
Two years ago today I collided with the Self, setting in motion the falling away of life as I thought I knew it to be. I was smacked over the head with the realisation that who I took ’Imogen’ to be was false. There was in fact no identifiable ‘solid’ form of Imogen that could be found. It’s been quite a journey, a journey to realise that what I sought was always here, looking out at the unfolding of an apparent journey. Although I now see that that collision was ultimately a fleeting experience it was so dramatically felt that it changed everything. It changed my casual interest in spirituality into a search that left everything else in its wake.
The abiding realisation of non-duality came about a year and half later.
I’m so deeply and profoundly grateful to the life that has put me in the way of some amazing lessons. Lessons that have come from many different sources and many different teachers. I see now that these teachers have each come forward at the perfect moment to ultimately teach me that I am beyond all teachings, that I am the One that they point to.
To Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, for giving me TM from an early age, that allowed me to experience transcending on a daily basis throughout my formative years. This gave me the understanding that all of life is unified consciousness and that there are infinite possibilities within this. Without you my whole foundational paradigm could have looked horribly different.
To Amma, for flooring me with your presence and for opening me up to a the possibility of a world outside of TM.
To Wayne Liquorman, for showing me how much power there is in a teacher’s unspoken presence; and for introducing the profound realisation that all of this suffering is from a false sense of doership.
To Adyashanti, for guiding me into the present moment silence of the Self. For encouraging me to love my wounds and pull them closer. And for your reassuring words when the ground had fallen away for the first time.
To Suzanne Segal, for blasting off the doors of the identified body and the illusion that I believed that I was separate from the tree. And later on for showing me that I wasn’t alone in being duped into believing that enlightenment ‘looked’ a certain way.
To Sri Mooji, for showing me what deep abiding love and surrender is. For allowing me to be fully me and for opening up your heart and home to me. You never gave up on me, even when I was ready to give up on this journey.
To Ramaji & RASA, for taking me all the way home. And if that wasn’t enough, allowing me to be so brutally honest and blunt with you. Through you I found my voice.
And to Martyn, my love, for being my biggest ally, supporter and teacher in all of this Leela.
Thank You, Thank You and a million more Thank Yous
For links to these teachers click HERE