- 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]
Do not shrink into smallness
Let yourself roar and feel fully into your inherent power.
Your power is found in the courage to be you,
to fully present ALL of you.
To cease with the judgements and accept all of your wholly divine messy humanness as your own.
To not second guess and hide yourself for fear of shame and judgement from others.
To let them see you, really see you in all your glory, in all your power.
Power is not an ‘evil’ blunt instrument that gets indiscriminately wielded around.
Power has many faces.
Power is found in full on vulnerability and openness
Power is found in the soft tenderness of heart
Power is found in the depths of sadness and heartbreak
Power is found in all the bits of yourself you can’t yet met
Power is found when living on the knife edge of exploration
Power is found saying no in order that you follow your yeses
In love and acceptance, there power resides.
So don’t be afraid to stand in your power.
Don’t be afraid to turn up to your life in a completely unapologetic way.
Own your power, don’t shy away from it.
When we show ourselves to others, fully open and vulnerable with our hidden tender aspects, without self censoring and hiding, we step into the conversation, into the relationship in a new way. Through this we also invite others to free themselves of their constraints and speak their tender truth too. It’s a true gift, the gift of openness and love.
Come as you are, no agenda and no expectations, heart open and ready to be met. There are no boundaries between us, no gulf to be filled. Meet me in this moment where you are, without pretence, without posturing or needing to be anything or anyone. Without judgements of good or bad, better or worse, just tender openness.
If you find yourself being uncomfortable been seen fully without a mask of pretence take a breath, it’s in those moments that it takes great courage to stay open, to stay present, to stay vulnerable and trust.
There is a great strength in vulnerability and openness, a strength and power that brings with it such freedom and sweetness that all else melts away in that moment.
This is my invitation to you, to meet your fear of being seen and judged with the fierce love of courageous openness.
This is not a safe space.
I am not a safe space.
If safe space to you means that you will not be challenged,
and that you cannot challenge me,
then I am not a safe space.
I want to fully lean into life,
have no stone unturned.
No sacred cows that cannot be found.
To me the only way to deal with this life,
is to learn how to live it without a safe space.
To learn to live it without the need to avoid.
To meet everything, in every moment, fully.
I’d rather meet and be met then avoid.
No matter how painful, how raw.
I’d rather live in openness, not closed-ness.
So IF I offer a safe space, it’s the space where anything can be explored, anything can be embraced, with compassion and tenderness. But especially those things that trigger us, because how can you expect those triggers to ever be healed if you’re not willing to go there, to look at them. They will forever be in the corner of your existence, just there within reaching distance, never far away. Leaving you with an ever-present sense of insecurity and danger.
So to me a safe space is one where there is no walls, there is no ceiling, there is no ground, there is nothing to hide behind. Anything and everything can and does show up. There’s room for it all. And so I offer a space with room for it all.
I’ve spent plenty of time in my life avoiding my trauma and triggers, my hurt, my conditioning and my precious concepts. I’ve learnt that this only causes tightness and suffering. The opposite of freedom.
It was when I learnt to meet all of my unexplored pains and traumas, that I was able to be free of them.
So that now they can show up, they can be there, and it’s okay. I have the facility and the sufficient openness and vastness to meet them and not be afraid.
In some ways I’m feeling life more fully, more intensely, and with a rawness that was never there. And that’s not because I avoided or stayed in my sandbox, my safety. It was because I blasted those doors open, no matter how painful, how scared, how vulnerable that was.
I live in perpetually shaky, unstable ground.
But it’s in that instability that I find my true stability.
That I find that I need no stability, that I need no ground.
This is my grounded-ness.
So if we are talking the same language of exploration, then yes… I offer to you a safe space.
I was asked the other day how I deal with being around others, particularly when there’s a level of pretending or not speaking your truth that seems to be required of you.
I too know all too well this feeling of suffocation in the company of others. The subtle unsaid permissions of what you can say, which topics you can touch on and how deep that can go. The unsaid permissions that someone can’t give for fear of threatening their own sense of Self, views and place in the world that they hold so tightly so as to keep the facade of security and knowingness intact.
I think this is why the idea of Sanghas can be so enticing, a place to commune with others who were of like mind and place in their journey of unfoldment, of seeing. A place when you can find common ground and openness, common experience and views. Alas it’s not as easy as it sounds to find the ‘right’ sangha!
You are lucky if you can find this in a partner or in a close friend or two – this is what I have with Martyn and this is what I am eternally grateful for. Alone together and full permission and delight of me to be me and him to be him. The freedom to be as we are, the freedom to plumb the depths and go anywhere – no ‘sacred cows’ that are off-limits.
You asked how I deal with the difficulty of pretending with others. Firstly I take plenty of time to go into my aloneness, isolation and unknowingness and revel in the freedom to be. This place of ‘only don’t know’ is such a beautiful place to be. Beautiful and vulnerable. Delicate, embracing and loving but powerful and full of strength. It’s in this space that we can truly see ourselves and breath in the fullness of existence. Taking this time of solitude is incredibly important, especially for me being the hermit and introvert that I am.
But these days when I am with others I find myself laying it all out to bare, trusting in this process and letting the chips fall where they may. Standing in my truth, being open and honest and trusting. Trusting that even if I get push-back or hurt that I can handle it, that they can handle it too and the freedom to be me, the freedom for them to be them is much more important than any particular outcomes. It has meant the loosing and changing of many relationships, but it has also meant the discovery of those relationships that can withstand this vulnerable nakedness of openness and truth that I find myself standing in.
Then of course there are those relationships where masking and pretending is absolutely necessary. Practically speaking I try to minimise the amount of time spent in these types of interactions, that certainly helps. Making sure that I do have plenty of alone time and nourishing relationships where masking and pretending isn’t needed so that there is capacity for those relationships where it’s not possible. Also in those interactions to find as much openness and compassion as is available in any given moment. To not shame or blame the need to protect, defend or set unsaid boundaries, but honoring and accepting those boundaries where we find them. Understand that they are often there for a reason, even if it’s a reason I (or they) can’t see or understand.
From a broader view of this topic generally for me it was the attachments to outcomes and desires in terms of interactions and relationships that had to go. The attachment to the desire of people liking me, people seeing me, the desire to looking a certain way, to be loved or even liked. Even the attachment to the desire to connect deeply or in a certain way, to be understood and acknowledged.
The power in the lack of attachment has been enormous for me, scary but completely freeing. I have nothing to lose, I have no rights to certain outcomes of how I think things should go. I just am who I am in any moment, it’s raw and risky feeling but it’s real and honest. And so in this I’m eternally grateful for what I do have, for all that comes across my path, forget about ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
There is only so much that one can repress and suffocate themselves, the cracks begin to show. The holes start forming and things start to escape in more violent and unpredictable ways.
I encourage you to breath into the fullness of your experience, let the chips fall where they may and find those moments, those people, those spaces, those pages even, where you can freely be YOU.
There is a mask that we’ve all experienced. Many even have several masks, each for a different set of circumstances, a different set of people. The mask that you wear for your boss is not the same mask that you wear for your grandmother, which is not the same mask you wear for your friends. All a partial view of who you are, what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.
But what happens when the cracks in the mask begins to show? What happens when that mask full of pretense and fake smiles becomes heavy and suffocating? When the toll of not showing the full range of your human experience, showing your whole vulnerable self becomes unbearable. What happens when you find that mask slipping off or not fitting anymore? So what then?
Can you leave the mask off, let it fall away, step out from hiding behind it and accept your reality? Or do you go back to trying to shove it back on and avoiding? What if it was supposed to crack, can you accept that? Accept that life has other plans for you right now, plans that you maybe can’t see, and certainly can’t control.
Can you be brave and stand up straight, hold your head high and walk forward into this next moment without reference to past, without wallowing in self pity? Can you hold your arms up to life and say, “Okay life, I’m ready for what you want of me, I’m here, I’m open and I’m listening.”?
If you say you’re done wearing this broken mask a million times does it make it so? Saying “I’m done” doesn’t make it so. BE done. Not tonight, not tomorrow, right now. It’s an action and a movement that rises up from within. An action that you can notice happening spontaneously. An action of Grace saying not next, not back there, but here – right now. Stay present. Drop any thought that says otherwise. Cast aside any thought that draws you into past and into future.
Life is making the wearing of this mask too painful, too impossible. So listen. Listen to life. Life is making it clear… “no more mask”. Can you stand true and listen to life, can you open yourself up to that vulnerability and stand naked without the safety of your mask, your mask that is so painful, so heavy, so constricting. What happens then? What happens when you set aside your mask and stand naked without it?
You are believing yourself to be weak and small, but maybe the cracks that you’re trying to hold together with sticky glue and tape actually were correct all along. Maybe they needed to break open. Maybe you can’t be contained by this false mask, this false shell anymore. Maybe the light that shines from within is making its escape through those cracks.
You find your life is falling apart. So what makes you think that it’s correct to try and tape and hold it back together? What happens when you let go?
I know it’s difficult. But when life falls apart you have two choices…. try and put it back together or acknowledge it and move on. Acknowledge that life wants something else for you, life is going in a different direction for you. So which will it be? The old or the new?
You’ve interacted with life in a particular way, with the mask and conditioning that has got you this far. Now life is taking that away from you. Now life is giving you the chance to move in a different way, without these crutches. They were only ever temporary, they were always going to fail at some point.
Life is for you, not against you. But it’s not necessarily in alignment with the mind’s ideas about what’s best. It’s in alignment with what’s actually needed, not what you think is needed. So where does your loyalty lie? With the mind’s ideas about what’s best, or life, reality, truth? Do you hold on to these ideas, or do you move forward, boldly step into this moment of life, raw, open, vulnerable but most of all with the strength of conviction that this is the only way. Will you falter? Will you stay loyal to the past? Or will you bow your head in acknowledgement that life has far bigger plans than the mind can conceive of.
When a door closes life is giving you an opportunity to walk through the window that it has just opened. To try another way. To leave behind the burdens of your past, to let go of the heavy mask of personhood. This is your chance to step up, to step out, to move beyond yourself, your small, controlling, afraid mind. To step into the darkness of unknowing with the light of Self and say, “Not today, today I make a different choice, today I choose myself not those doubts and fears. Today I take off my mask for the last time and stand free in the vast expanse of it all.”
Step into your new reality, step into your own light. It’s right here now and it cannot be overshadowed, it cannot be taken away. It’s right at the core of your being and you don’t need to run away from it any more.
All your choices have led to this, they are not something to be ashamed of, they are not something to second guess. Your choices ARE your path, your path has lead you to crack open, for the mask to become unbearable. Your choices are choice-less and so all you can do is accept that it’s all Grace. Every single choice, every single thought, it’s all Grace. Grace doesn’t pick and choose, it’s all of it. The sun doesn’t pick and choose what flower to shine on, it shines on all.
Don’t dwell on your past, it will do you no good. Accept where you are, see that it’s all meant to be exactly as it is. Life’s showing you that you’re not in control and whatever is happening is just part of your path.
Let your old life go, let it fall apart and be ready and willing to step into the great unknown, ready for Grace to show the way. But you can’t take your baggage and past with you. All you have is this moment. Your past does not define you, this moment does, and this moment is gone as soon as it came. So be undefinable, just BE.
Where you see brokenness and endings, I see beginnings and the shell of personhood breaking away to reveal your true Self – open, fresh and full of possibilities.
This exploration of life requires great vulnerability, earnestness, openness, radical honest and deep inquiry. It’s a truly destructive process, one that burns everything that you are not with such a fire that not even a whisper of the false is left. But what this can mean is that which we hold so dearly, so tightly, for so long doesn’t fit into this new paradigm that is tenderly cracking open. Our once core beliefs and truths don’t feel like ours any more and so we’re required to drop them, to move on, to take a leap of faith into the unknown.
It’s this continuous release into the unknown where freedom lies. It’s not a position to take but a
I don’t require you to be anyone
to turn up
to be someone
Here in this space
I have no use for concepts and opinions
assertions and knowledge
here in this space we can just BE
Be as we are
naked and vulnerable
strong and fiery
broken and lost
angry or sad
joy-filled and blissful
or nothing at all
Here in this space we can explore the depth of humanity
traverse the fields of experiencing
sit in this divine Isness of life
but most of all be free
free to be
free to be without attributes
free to be whatever and whoever we are
free to sink into this moment
“There’s nothing more beautiful, intimate and vulnerable than another person saying “I see you, all of you.” Be see-through, be transparent, embrace that vulnerability, dare to look in the mirror that they hold up to you and share yourself with open abandon; with great risk comes greater rewards – freedom.” – Imogen