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
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.
15 minute video excerpt from Imogen’s Bi-Monthly Zoom group on 23rd February, 2020.
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
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?
In my life journey thus far I’ve had to transgress two* major spiritual paths/groups/movements that were both whole-life encompassing – Guru, lifestyle, friends and family, home, job, it felt like a lot could and would be lost. It’s was for sure a very difficult thing to navigate but I feel it’s important to share and talk about as I see a lot of people dealing with this, particularly in the realm of spiritual organisations.
Over time I’ve actually come to see that it’s a totally normal and healthy part of ‘spiritual’ development (I say spiritual lightly as I actually believe it’s not spiritual, it’s LIFE). Moving beyond our seemingly secure boundaries of experience, paradigms and conditioning – the known. It’s a hugely vulnerable place to be – the unchartered territory of our life, where we let go of the known and step forth into the openness of the unknown.
“You’re losing your way”, “you’re falling off the path” these were ideas that were offered up and I became fearful of, that I would ‘miss my chance’ for enlightenment and make a wrong turn/decision. Choose the wrong door, and therefore closing the other doors forever. Take an irreversible action. Being judged for that. That my life would fall apart, my source of income and/or home (which was tied in) would be gone forever or that my support network would reject me. That I would be left all alone with no support and no stability. These are touching on fundamental human fears and it’s terrifying to be faced with them.
It seems like a lot of groups (not just spiritually orientated ones – but that’s what I’m focused on here) like to have partisan loyalty in addition to claiming proprietary ownership of spiritual ideas, techniques, sadhana. “My way is the best”, “my way is the only way”. And the sanghas around them seem to naturally enforce this with the tribal pressure to be part of the group – after all we love to have this feeling of “I belong.”
So when we are faced with the reality that we find life moving in a different direction (path) or moving beyond what we have got already going on, what then? When our inner light and intuition is calling us somewhere else.
The Guru/organisation/technique/practice that we have held so dear, that has changed our life, that has provided a sense of comfort and belonging, or has given us huge amounts of growth and insight – what do we do when our loyalty to this is at odds with what is now showing up? Maybe a new Guru or technique has caught our attention. Or it maybe in our heart we see that we need to drop the prescribed practice or orthodoxy given to us in favour of something else, or even… dare I say… to drop it all! But in doing so we are going against our Guru, our Sangha, our community. Then it feels like a decision needs to be made: Do I stay within this current paradigm, or move out of the comfort and follow this new thing, transgressing the status quo, risking stability and everything I hold dear and drop it all?
There are no answers that someone else can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing in the face of this – there is no right or wrong.
But anything – person (Guru), organisation or otherwise, that is trying to limit your expression and experience of life (especially by fear and/or control) will cause you to hit up against the ‘wall’ or boundary of that doctrine at some point – it’s for you to see what happens, does that wall crumble or does it stay intact… either way there are no wrong answers.
There are no mistakes in life, we are presented with exactly what we need to learn, grow and expand – no exceptions. The mind can argue either side of an argument that it’s presented with in apparently logical ways – so no help and comfort can be found there.
What actual actions/decisions get taken are a choice-less choice, it’s all a happening – any ‘choice’ is a commentary or story of the mind. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it can feel disempowering, confusing and sometimes at odds (heart vs head stuff – all is fickle). But yes, choices appear, our life moves on regardless of those choices. We have to accept our reality as it happens, (talk about real-time updates!!) and have no loyalty to the fear of the future or to the past/past ways of thinking.
For me it was about ‘the next obvious thing’, it wasn’t about analysing it (although it would have been all too easy to go there). Life presented the next obvious thing and it was a leap of faith and trust that this was what was meant to happen and that it was for the good. That ‘next obvious thing’ for me turned out to be following my own light and transgressing, transcending and to some extent including, each group/teaching that I encountered. It wasn’t about surrendering to the fearful projections of what might be, it was about what was happening right here, right now. Looking back, those transgressions were absolutely necessary for me (and I would argue most other people too).
So what am I saying…Transgressing prescribed spiritual paths is part and parcel of growth: we use the raft to cross the river but then abandon the raft at the other bank. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Group dynamics instill a sense of stability, duty and fear, offering pressure that it’s “this way or none” and that you’ll miss your chance at the promised land. But when a natural growth beyond these boundaries occurs then it’s nothing to be fearful of. What happens is what is meant to happen. We don’t know what the future holds (unfortunately this gives no comfort to a mind that wants guarantees and plans). But this to me is where trust, surrender, courage and humility come in.
Open your heart and have the courage to be a light unto yourself, shake off the shackles of shoulds and step forth into the unknown and trust yourself, trust your inner truth, surrender to what is unfolding.
*[Addendum: Little did I know that a matter of weeks after writing this that I would be faced with a 3 for 3 scenario and we would be parting ways with another spiritual Guru/organisation/teaching. Like I said nature throws up the next obvious step, the next unfoldment. So we are at the start of our next chapter, hopefully that is it for us and spiritual organisations…. but who knows what the future will hold ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Watch this space……! ~ Imogen 8/8/18]
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
“The only path is the path of Grace. All is Grace.” – Imogen
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.
It’s so easy to fall into the spiritual trap of feeling like you’ve ‘got it’. After spending many years doing spiritual practices there may be a deepening and deepening understanding of what’s being spoken of and pointed to. This intellectual understanding coupled with spiritual or awakening experiences, and life can start to look a hell of a lot rosier. Maybe you’ve gone through some tough times, some mind attacks and such, and coming out the other side everything feels lighter and more blissful, the annoying person who cut in line isn’t bothering you any more. It’s like the contrast of that tight constricted suffering compared with the light airy, no troubled feeling comes as such a relief. And when it lasts for longer and longer with more frequency and with less and less trouble you can’t be blamed for thinking ‘I’ve got it’.
When I was writing the about page for this website something became quite apparent. Why do we focus on the ‘story’ of all of this? It’s like the story is taken to be so real, it’s seen like a path that has to be followed. That one action led to another, and another, and another until all the actions culminated in “this is how to it was done to reach this outcome”.
It is supposing that all of this description is actually a prescription. So… if you meditate for X number of years, followed by some big event that leads you to question life, and then followed by walking out of your life, giving up everything and going to live in an ashram… these will equate to…… Ta Da!!