An interview with Simeon for the Seeker to Seeker Podcast where we speak at length about the shadow and the journey of embracing it. We talk about the nature of awakening and also about the role of relationships, intimate and otherwise, on the spiritual journey… among other things 😉
Excerpt taken from the February 14th 2021 Sunday Satsang talking about how to be with resistance so that we may welcome all of our experience into the present moment.
Excerpt talking about finding those ‘shoulds’ that cause so much suffering and learning to trust life, trust your Self rather than acting from old conditioning. Taken from a Satsang during the December 2020 Diving Deep 7 day retreat.
We go lurching from one action to another all in the name of trying to pin down and find a sense of stability, find a resolution. All to avoid or fix the strong feelings and sensations arising in the body-mind. If only we could slow down or even stop in those moments, find our centre, find our inherent stability of Beingness and then observe what action comes about from this. Not an action based out of reactivity and fear but an action based from the quietness and centered-ness, stability even, of Self. An action that isn’t impeded by the conditioned mind, an action that is natural, spontaneous and correct for the moment.
Trying to ‘get away from’ is the source of so much suffering, quite often the thing we’re trying to get away from isn’t half as much trouble and suffering as the act of trying to avoid the feeling or sensation arising around it.
We jump from moment to moment constantly chasing or being chased, never realising that what we seek isn’t over there but here… in this moment, in the heart of this experience should we take the time to look, to BE.
What it actually takes is the willingness to sink into this moment and let everything else be as it is. Let everything else come and go without getting involved with managing the traffic like a traffic cop for phenomenal content.
What it takes is the willingness to sit in the fire and intensity of the moment until it burns itself out and gives way to the next moment.
What it takes is the self love and holding of space without conditions and judgements of all that arises.
And what it takes is having loyalty to being, not loyalty to thoughts and ideas of shoulds.
“May your dis-ease be lessened as you come to see that life holds you in her arms tenderly.”
Spontaneous and casual morning walk contemplations; This morning talking about counterproductive sufferings when dealing with strong emotions.
“Suffering equals attachment to expectations.”
It’s all Grace.
Even when you feel Grace has forsaken you and life has thrown at you more than you can imagine would be possible, this too is Grace.
We are the infinite sky for which all spontaneously appears and disappears back whence it came. We must not falsely mistake the transient nature of life’s content for the inherent and ineffable stability of our true nature, our Self.
You are never not Self.
You are at your core, the embodiment of the Divine nature of life ebbing and flowing as it goes.
Even in your most unforgivable actions, these too are the actions of Grace.
And so all is Grace.
But when you take personal ownership of life you will find yourself feeling stuck in the push and pull of judgements of right and wrong. You will forever be chasing your tail trying to keep or trying to get rid of this or that.
You will forever be measuring yourself against ideals and questioning if you are ‘good enough’.
Can you accept all that you experience into your heart as that of the difference faces and appearances of Grace, of Consciousness, of YOU?
all is Consciousness,
all is Divine,
all is Grace,
all is Self,
and coming to accept this brings much peace.
But the ego-mind doesn’t want to,
it want’s the glory of ‘doing’ but with that it also gets the misery of failing too.
And so this cycle goes as it must, but this is Grace too.
Because there is Grace even in our most egregious ‘human failings’. This too shows us something, not for our comfort but for our growth, for our realisation. For our recognition that then blossoms out of the ashes of seen through falsities.
You are held in the arms of Grace whether you recognise it or not. Even through your suffering and your seeming missteps, Grace is there with you, guiding you, giving infinite chances to see her, to know her, as your very own Self.
“Grokking the Truth of our nature is vital for the dawning of freedom from affliction and suffering. But without love and acceptance it won’t be heard in the heart, just in the mind of knowledge and concepts. Let your heart open fully to your experience; where your heart goes your mind will follow.”
Sending love to those who are trying to heal from things they do not discuss.
Sending love to those that have been caught off guard by life in unimaginable ways.
Sending love to those that feel alone and unable to share what they are going through.
Sending love to those that feel they are unworthy or undeserving of kindness, of love.
Sending love to those who are struggling but are still trying their best to survive.
Sending love to those that need it most but feel shame and fear to ask for it.
Sending love to those that suffer silently with nowhere to turn.
Sending love to those in the belly of darkness and pain.
Sending love to those that feel misunderstood and unrelatable.
Sending love to those that are trying their best even when it seems like it’s not good enough.
Sending love to each and every one of you walking your life’s path.
Sending love…. 💜🙏💜
The arrogant one
The fraudulent and untruthful one
The one with complete lack of integrity
The narcissistic and the deluded one
The selfish and self-centered one
The unjust and angry one
The petulant and unreasonable one
The unkind, uncompassionate and unloving one
It is our job to make friends with all these aspects of our self and not just the aspects that are easy to love.
It is our job to find love and compassion for those parts that are hardest to accept.
To forgive ourselves for rejecting and excluding that which so desperately wants to find its place, its home too.
This is the job of work to do.
For if not now, then when? If not you, then who?
This is where life is calling out in pain and suffering.
To love that which is hardest to love, hardest to accept.
To stand shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, closer than close with the unloveable, unworthy, unsightly.
To meet with space, and love, and compassion those aspects that feel unmeetable.
For there is room for all in this vast space of being-ness, this constant changing play and display of life.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman… probably one of my favourite all time quotes.
Love excludes none and includes all.
Freedom excludes none and includes all.
Life excludes none and includes all.
Can you exclude none and include all?
Can you be the room for both-and not either-or?
Can you bring into the fold, into the inner sanctuary of Being the love, the tenderness and the compassion for even the sinner and tax collector in you.
For it is easy to love your friends, but what about your enemies?
Ideas many associate with Jesus’ teachings, but look beyond the voice that says it, to the meaning and the truth behind it. See what it points to.
The suffering born of separation comes from the abandonment of loving all, the abandonment of seeing yourself reflected right back at you in all of the forms and shapes of life. Be it on a individual internal scale, a familial scale or even a societal and a global scale.
The ability to not other’ize’ and alienate any aspect of life goes hand in hand with the ability to see yourself in it all.
To include and love it all.
To make peace and friends with it all.
“Fighting against the reality of what IS only ever leads down a road of suffering.”
Q: Can you tell me how to get rid of attachment and aversion?
It’s not about eliminating (getting rid of) anything but seeing that it’s all arising in you – consciousness. This is awakening. Experiential focus or identity is shifted from the foreground (phenomena) to the background (consciousness). When this is recognised to be true in your experience the need for elimination of ANYTHING disappears. All is accepted as an arising in you, and this is true freedom. From this, peace is found and suffering is eliminated. Suffering is the lack of acceptance of WHAT IS.
Let me give an example to illustrate why this recognition is actually the most fundamental recognition of awakening.
Just as the clouds appear and disappear in the sky, phenomena (thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc.) are appearing and disappearing in you. Is the sky any less the sky just because it has clouds, or a storm in it? No. Are you any less YOU if there’s something arising in you? No.
We become either attached or averse because we mistake the phenomena for ourselves. We believe we are good or bad, right or wrong if we have certain experiences (phenomena) showing up and so we try to keep or get rid of these things. Consciousness makes no distinction, consciousness is ALL that shows up, ALL THAT IS. No separate piles of good consciousness to keep and bad consciousness to get rid of, no separation at all – just a continuous flow and play of life appearing as different forms and experiences.
It’s only the limited human ego (mind) that judges and says what should or shouldn’t be. If you can see through this and understand experientially (not just intellectually) that this is the futile continuous hamster wheel of the mind, you’ll come to the end of needing life to be anything but WHAT IT IS. You’ll see that the peace, freedom and stability that you seek is in fact right here when the seeking is dropped. When the hands of life let go of the grasping for what ISN’T and accept what IS.
Keep quiet, let all judgements cease, and what you are left with is what is. If this can be accepted into your heart, then you are free, then even if attachment or aversion show up… they will be seen as yet another phenomena arising in YOU, consciousness YOU. And the beauty of it is… you need nothing to be what you ARE.
There’s a tendency to avoid dealing with the subject of mental health in some spiritual traditions and teachings. To poo poo inner work and growth, to try to meditate away ‘negative’ emotions, reactions, thought patterns and conditioning. But spirituality and spiritual awakening is not a panacea, it is many things and in some ways a lot of the “problems” of the mind do in fact disappear. But in some ways post awakening the work and cleanup becomes intensified and it can become even more important to address and give attention to anything that’s still arising. This can be when some of the true work begins, because the strategies that have stopped you from looking beneath the covers of the mind dissolve.
It is the embracing not the running away that allows one to look at where the stored traumas, memories, reactions, conditioning and energetic imprints are having an impact on the current moment, your current experience of life. So in some ways it’s only then that you can truly move through and on from the issues or patterns that may have plagued your life.
We all know someone, or maybe ourselves that have experienced mental health issues, and yet it’s still so hard for society as a whole to acknowledge, embrace and talk about. Why do you think we even need to have a ‘World Mental Health Day’. We’re too quick to try and fix, instead of taking the cues that are being shown. Those cue want to be heard, want to be seen. Not fixed or forgotten about, or covered up, or shoved under the carpet; but instead seen and heard and embraced like a small child looking for love.
There is no manual about how to live life. It’s difficult and there are no singular right or wrong answers that apply to all. But especially when we pay too much attention to what those around us, and society are saying about how we should feel and act and be in life. Often the first thing to go when we try and fit into something that we feel we should be fitting into, is our sense of internal well-being and peace.
The term mental health is a catchall for many experiences and often comes measured against a theoretical blueprint about what it is to be ‘normal’. This is massively problematic, particularly as from everything I can gather, there is no normal. And beyond that… often these things that we fear are ‘abnormal’ about ourselves are actually experiences that our friend, our neighbour, our family member, the stranger on the bus are also feeling and experiencing too.
The mental suffering comes in when we falsely accept that our experience is wrong – that we ‘shouldn’t’ be experiencing x, y & z. I’ve often said to people that I encounter along the road of life who tell me that what they are experiencing is wrong or broken, that what if they were an alien who had just arrived on Earth and were told x, y & z is completely correct to feel, what then? What would their relationship to x, y & z be? Would they think it wrong? No.
So it’s often our relationship to how we perceive what we’re experiencing that causes it to be wrong or right, to suffer it or not. What if we were taught happy is bad, sad is good? It’s our labelling of experiences that determines their value and therefore where we derive our sense of value in life. What if we were to drop these labels and sit in the pocket with our experiences. To not run away from the ‘bad’ and towards the ‘good. But to feel all.
I feel this is true mental health. To attend to all that’s arising with awareness and compassion, without labels and judgements of right or wrong.
Mental health assumes there is a good health and a bad health. It measures this good and bad against the idea (or ideal) of normal. But show me normal, find me who it looks like? We have to face facts, there is no one-size fits all. There is no ‘normal’, just life playing out as it does with all its colour and variety, shapes and sizes, all its seeming paradoxes and diversities.
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.
Embrace all that arises, give it the loving attention that it’s calling out for. Rejection only creates more suffering, more separation.
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.
In yesterday’s online open meeting someone asked me a very interesting question that I feel has been coming up for many people around my recent sharing on Facebook.
What is true spiritual attainment if a so-called spiritual person can be so human? Usually being or attaining a spiritual state is assumed to mean that you rise above the ordinary human emotions, sensations, thoughts etc. Here I am, as a so-called spiritual teacher, revealing that actually I am very human and have a wide range of human experiences that many people can relate to. If you have put me, or any spiritual teacher, up on any kind of pedestal as being the ideal to aim for, then you will most likely be disappointed by my down-to-earth humanity. I am just like you.
Perhaps you have come to the spiritual search to overcome the discomfort of this human experience. And at first when you wake up to your true nature as the Awareness of it all, then it seems that you do rise above the whole of experience. But don’t build a comfortable nest and get stuck there. Yes your/my true identity is Awareness, but this is only one side of the coin. There is no safety in knowing your true identity. If anything it strips away all the safety that you previously believed in. It allows you the freedom to lose yourself into the human experience, knowing that you are never limited to that. You are always the Awareness of the human, but you are also the human that lives, experiences, feels, and explores this life experience.
True spirituality is living this paradox.
I find this to be a common idea that she’s addressing here, something that I myself very much bought into for years – that ‘spiritual attainment’ somehow means you ‘rise above it all’. In reality it’s a much more intimate and raw experience, one that precludes nothing. It brings into light the full experience of humanness, those shadows, those once hidden aspects. It’s a constant unfoldment, movement and changing of life’s experience. Not always pleasant but honest and true. All the while, all this experienced in the ineffable and un-bounded ocean of silent open-awareness itself. Not separate from at all…….in the dirt, in the mix, having fun!
Awakening or freedom/liberation/Moksha is a waking up and freedom from the constrained ideas and ideals of shoulds and should nots. It’s the recognition and abiding realisation that you are not the body-mind that is limited to these concepts, that you are the Awareness, Beingness, Isness that is experiencing this, but is not limited or bound by this. That you are big enough, to contain the multitudes of human experiencing, that you cannot be overwhelmed and taken over by this, but that you ARE this, but not ONLY this.
Suffering comes when there’s a denial of this, that you ‘should’ feel a certain way that you ‘should’ rise above and only experience all the ‘good stuff’, the higher vibrations, the positive outcomes, peace, love & bliss (only) and not the dirty, messy, human frailties. Not the anger and hurt, not the loneliness and uncertainty.
Life is vibrant and muddy and messy and beautiful. Life is changeable and spontaneous and unpredictable. Life contains EVERYTHING from purest silent awareness of nothingness to loud crazy chaotic experiencing. You ARE that life, don’t be tempted to diminish and limit the infinitude of this experience, it is after all what it means to be an embodied human being.
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.
I feel your pain, your suffering.
If I could, I’d tell you that this will pass,
just as the clouds pass in the sky,
just as the ripples of the dropped stone disappear,
just as the passing wind that rustles the tree leaves,
just as the forgotten pain of yesterdays cut finger,
just as the heartbreak of first loves breakup,
just as the treasured childhood wellington’s long outgrown,
just as the wishes of birthday candles past.
Don’t hold on, for this too shall pass.
There’s nothing more than this…. and yet people spend their lives convinced that they’re missing something, not getting something, not where they’re supposed to be, not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Pretty much focused on everything BUT This, what IS, the present-moment experience.
There’s something in the mind that’s compelled to go with the seeking energy for that ‘greener grass’ over yonder. This constant looking/seeking motion that pulls your attention out of the very now is derived from the attachment to the idea of how life ‘should’ look. Ultimately this is where suffering shows up, where there’s a disparity between how life should look, i.e. your expectations, and the reality of what is actually happening. But if for a moment you can set aside this seeking, this outward searching movement to fulfill expectations and desires, and look to your own experience prior to words and descriptions in this very moment – is there anything lacking here?
I had a recent conversation that brought into focus how important it is for someone who overthinks to get out of their head, and allow whatever feeling or sensation that occurs to arise and to just feel it. Don’t analyse it, don’t name it, don’t judge it – just feel it.
The very act of focusing in on the thought to try and ‘figure it out’ tends to perpetuate the suffering that’s being felt. What is being ‘felt’ is literally a feeling or energetic sensation arising within you that is being interpreted by the mind.