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
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
- 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.
Two and a half years ago I experienced a life shattering shift (just over a year after the first glimpse of non-dual awareness in April 2014 – The Collision That Changed Everything), not a bad life shattering, a beautiful and indescribable life shattering after I received a 15 minute Shaktipat Transmission over Skype from a spiritual teacher from San Diego, CA.
SHAKTIPAT & HOW I CAME TO KNOW ABOUT IT
For anyone that knows me, you’ll know I’m not much one for woo-woo and spiritual new-age modalities. I wasn’t brought up with ideas and words such as ‘chakras’ and ‘kundalini’, I came from the worlds of Transcendental Meditation and Self-inquiry. Over the years I had experienced many times over the strong presence of an enlightened sage or master, but somehow I never gave the idea of Transmission/Shaktipat much weight in terms of its ability to directly awaken someone. My inherited view was that years of meditation, study and a pure sattvic physiology was what was needed to stabilise in non-dual awareness. Later on this view was replaced with Self-Inquiry as a means to root out the pernicious I-ego belief. But in 2015 my views on spiritual transmission (Shaktipat) as a means to awakening, unexpectedly changed.
In early 2015 my husband Martyn arranged a Skype session to receive a Shaktipat Transmission after reading the book ‘1000’ in which describes the different levels of consciousness and how Shaktipat is a means to rapidly increase one’s level of consciousness.
I won’t sugar coat it, at the time I saw it as a desperate seeker’s Hail Mary. I was pretty darn skeptical – some guy waving his hands at you over Skype and you become ‘enlightened’…. just like that?! Yet in the following weeks and months I saw such a dramatic change in him that my skepticism soon morphed into curiosity. Gone was the tortured suffering of a seeker, and in its place an ease, lightness of life and wisdom that was enticing to witness. About six months later I sat on my own Skype call. Still slightly skeptical (ok, pretty skeptical) but also totally open and ready to experience a Shaktipat Transmission for myself. And with that one Shaktipat my world as I knew it changed..
THE POST SHAKTIPAT EXPERIENCE
Everything that I thought I knew to be true dissolved in an instant. What came next was a discovery if you like, learning to live life a new, a fresh in each and every moment, as if I was a baby experiencing life’s firsts all over again.
After the initial few months of integration (which wasn’t an easy time… but that’s another story) the words began to flow. Gush in fact. I couldn’t stop them. And so I started this blog – Beyond Imogen. I spoke to whoever would listen, and I spoke to no-one, but the words seemed unending. I would wake up in the middle of the night, grab my phone or a notebook and write as these words came thick and fast, a tidal wave of description and insight.
And then one day, silence. The words stopped, the writing stopped.
That was about 18 months ago.
ONWARDS INTO THE UNKNOWN
So much has gone on since, so much and yet in many ways nothing at all. This peace, this ease, this deep abiding love and causeless joy of life, this ever-present Isness, this inescapable multifaceted raw human existence, it’s oh so obvious. There are no words. No words do it justice, no words capture the totality of it. This silence is far more eloquent than words could ever come close to.
And now….another phase seems to be opening up, a new level of integration.
As to my writing, now I respond, the words flow forth when they do, when there is someone to hear them. I feel the calling to be more intimate, more personal, no holds barred – share what is called for. But now it’s not really about the words, the words are the side dish, the appetizer.
What’s coming tonight is the acknowledgement that this life, this movement of Grace is far more than meets the eye. Far more and yet actually much more simple than I could ever have imagined.
Over two and a half years on and I want to acknowledge is that Shaktipat was a dramatic catalyst for me. Lord knows it’s not the only thing that can bring about that realisation of one’s true nature. But for me, in the story that is my life, it was. Somehow it feels like the elephant in the room not to say it, acknowledge it. It seems so mystical, so woo woo to many, most don’t understand it. Hell I don’t understand it! But then life itself is incomprehensible and totally mystical. So here I stand, acknowledging that Shaktipat and Divine Mother collided with my life in a way that forever changed everything. But that’s certainly not to dismiss the teachers and teachings that came before in my path that so profoundly impacted me also. I am forever grateful, nothing can be dismissed, and yet nothing can truly be attributed – it’s all just a happening in the līlā of life.
In November 2017 the opportunity came to learn to be a Shaktipat giver and I couldn’t help but say yes. In my heart of hearts I feel my only desire and purpose in life, in light of all this, is to help others to realize and experience their own effortless nature, Sahaja Samadhi. The freedom and peace that I experience life to be is such a gift that anything that I can be part of to help others recognise this…. I happily do so.
All love ~ Imogen Sita
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 had attended the Maharishi School in the UK, I had worked and lived in amongst TMers, both in the UK and the US for most of my life. My mother was a TM teacher from the 70s, almost all of my friends were TMers, I didn’t know anything BUT TM, the TM moment and that way of life.
It was a shock to see those words flashing up on the BBC, to feel so far away from it all, and yet be so connected with it somehow.
10 years on, so much has happened, so much has changed, and when I say so much, I mean it, both outwardly and inwardly, but it’s the inner change that has been the most profound.
I’ve gone from being a second generation TM movement kid, knowing nothing else, to transgressing this and embracing the world of Satsang and contemporary non-dual teachers, to finally opening my mind and heart to Grace in the form of a 15 minute Shaktipat Transmission, and in that instant having a life time of ’spirituality’ and spiritual practice melt into the experience of living life fully, beautifully, naturally, embodied, and abiding as the Self.
And in this I have had to learn how to live again.
I’ve lost myself so profoundly, and yet in that loss I’ve found my-Self again and again. Dying in each and every moment to a fresh, new, beautiful and raw moment, this moment. This experience, this knowingness, so simple and yet so profound has changed everything. Yet here I sit, chopping wood, carrying water, the same Imogen, the same body, totally and completely, divinely here, in the embrace of love.
Thank you Maharishi, for starting me on this journey to discover my very own Self, even if I didn’t ‘choose’ or even recognise that that was the path I was on all this time……
I bow at your feet.
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.”
But I’m finding this tendency more and more untenable. There’s a nauseating energy, I guess we would call it adrenaline, that surges in me and so this hiding, this backing down from looking to my own experience doesn’t last. It’s like I cannot NOT look to see if what is being said is true – no matter how much the tendency to hide from that looking still shows up.
And so I find myself, for the first time in my life, facing full-faced to what life is showing me. Responding to the assertions of others, looking at the fabric of what they are saying. And… well then the lion roars.
It’s been quite a surprise to find that roar, at first (and still now if I’m honest) it didn’t feel like ‘my’ roar, it feels alien and new. But none-the-less there it is, and now I see that it does come from me-consciousness. In this roar I can be uncompromising and unsettling (well to the ego at least). It doesn’t win me any friends! And yet, somehow to me it seems like the most loving, compassionate action of “but how can I leave this untruth be in the light of what is seen.”
It’s like this lion in me is called to stand up to the truth of what is known. Was this lion always here, disguised as a kitten?
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.
My own relationship has taught me that relationships in themselves aren’t some obstructive thing that stops you from realizing your own nature. Having said that, I lived through the often painful dropping of the attachment to my relationship with my husband Martyn. We found ourselves at an impasse after he had a spiritual awakening that in the wake of he felt he could no longer be at the ashram where we were living, and I felt I couldn’t be anywhere else. He couldn’t be there, and I couldn’t NOT be there; this resulted in us parting ways with no end to our separation in sight. When we said our goodbyes they were potentially permanent goodbyes, we didn’t have any idea if we would ever see each other again. There was immense love for one another, but our situation in life was physically parting us and it was torture.
I cried myself to sleep for the days and weeks that followed. I spent my days on the verge of crying, feeling like my insides had been ripped out. And yet there was nothing I could do other than endure it. Connection to the internet for both of us was incredibly patchy so we would maybe speak once a week, and because of the turmoil that both of us were feeling it would invariable end up in an argument – often over how to resolve the situation, or ending with an angry and frustrated, “well it’s over then!?!”.
I felt torn, I wanted to be with him, but I felt I needed to be where I was. My life appeared to be crumbling before my eyes, such strong seemingly overwhelming feelings were right at the forefront of my experience. I was suffering and I felt so alone.
The suffering that I was experiencing all came from the expectation of how I imagined or conceived the relationship ‘should be’ rather than how it actually is/was. This ‘should’ was now not being met, and the attachment to this ‘should’ was a strong one. In relationships we may not even notice that there’s attachment there, (especially if for the most part it’s been a smooth sailing healthy relationship like mine was) but there’s always a subtle fear of loss, and from this, suffering can arise. In this attachment we are either always holding on to something we have with a feeling of fear or loss, or trying to get something that we feel we lack.
It’s funny because in the wake of this or rather the flip side, I also felt a sense of strength in my new found independence. We had been together since I was 18 so it was a completely new experience to not have to worry or think about anyone else, to make decisions without referring to anyone else was a liberating feeling. So even with this turmoil there I also experienced the growth and discovery of strength that I didn’t know I had. I experienced who I was away from who I took myself to be within our relationship; who I was living prior to any labels and ideas of being a ‘someone’ to ‘somebody else’.
At the pinnacle of that torturous two months I began having ‘panic attacks’. I couldn’t deal with these strong emotions, they got the the point where it wasn’t even strong emotions, it was just intense energy coursing through my veins. I spoke to both Martyn and the spiritual teacher at the ashram about this and both gave me pretty much the same pointing:
“Don’t give so much importance to this energy, trying to understand and work it out, just feel it. Let it pass through you. See that you are aware of all of this happening.”
I felt like I was talked down from the ledge a few times by them. But eventually the innocent observation of these strong energies led me to be able to let go of the attachment I had about being physically together. An ease came about in accepting what was (is). This was among one of the most difficult times of my life thus far, but with it came an openness and an acceptance of what was showing up in my life. I let go of any ideas of how the relationship ‘should’ be – good or bad, it didn’t matter – everything had to go.
Throughout all this upheaval I intuitively knew that what was happening was somehow inevitable; to have the attachment of the relationship torn from me. I had to accept the separation and along with it the attachment to Martyn and our wonderful relationship, for it was the non-acceptance that was causing immeasurable suffering.
It’s funny, once this attachment had given way to acceptance everything immediately shifted, and a few weeks later an opportunity for Martyn and I live in a house in the nearby village came up. And so to our complete surprise, we found ourselves once again in physical proximity when only weeks before that possibility looked lost forever. The attachment to the relationship and the shoulds and should-nots have never returned. I know that both individually and in our relationship we continue to evolve, and whatever happens – whether we stay together or not – it doesn’t hold the same neediness of attachment.
I see now what a gift it was to have this strong and intensely embedded attachment brought so clearly (and painfully) to the surface. For it was in this hard lesson of letting go that I was able to clearly recognise my essential nature, prior to all attachments, all concepts of ‘shoulds’, and all suffering.
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. It’s been a constant learning and discovering of what it looks like to move in this life as a passenger rather than believing the illusion that I’m the driver. I’m still discovering the implications of this realisation and while all this may sound so far off and mystical, know that what I’m pointing to is in fact your very nature and you’re never NOT this. It’s just a matter of recognising and confirming that what’s being pointed to is in fact you, the awareness from which all of life arises in and as. Don’t ever stop looking, but ultimately we’re all already on a ticking time bomb of this realisation.
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 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. Through you I also learnt the hard but very necessary lesson to finally stand on my own two feet, to trust myself and my voice, and not give over to the authority of anyone else again.
And to Martyn, my love, for being my biggest ally, supporter and teacher in all of this Leela. You and I have walked this journey hand-in-hand thus far and you have provided me with such a loving but totally safe space that is our relationship to challenge everything possible in the most divinely unsafe way!
Thank You, Thank You and a million more Thank Yous
For links to these teachers click HERE