Beyond Imogen - Imogen Sita Webber
Interview by Renate McNay
Renate: Welcome to ConsciousTV. My name is Renate McNay and my guest today is Imogen Sita Webber and we are still in the corona time and Imogen is in Wales and I ’m in Oxfordshire. So, it ’s a completely different experience, interviewing on Zoom, not quite sure about it – so let ’s try it.
Renate: So, I’d like to start with a little bit looking into your story and how you became who you are now, a spiritual teacher, well, you call yourself a spiritual mentor. And Imogen is also a writer, a brilliant writer, there ’s lot of wonderful things to write on your website and you give divine light transmission, and we find out a little bit later what that is. And, so you grew up with the understanding everything is consciousness.
Imogen: That ’s correct, yeah.
Renate: Yeah, and the question is, was that a blessing or not?
Imogen: I didn ’t know anything else, this is the thing. So this was my life, that was the paradigm and the view of my life. It was very ordinary for me.
Renate: Yeah, so you were six years old when you started meditating?
Imogen: Yeah, so my mom was a Transcendental Meditation teacher from way back when and she taught me when I was six.
Renate: Did you know what you were doing, what meditation is?
Imogen: As much as a six-year-old has understanding of that I think.
Renate: Yeah, yeah.
Imogen: It was something that was with my life for the entirety of it `cause I saw my mom going off and meditating from the day I was born she still doing that. So, it was very ordinary for me, it was very much part of my life.
Renate: Yes, and you had enough playmates there and in the commune?
Imogen: Well, so when I was born, I was born in Wales, and actually we were not living in the Transcendental Meditation community in Skelmersdale at that point. We moved there when I was about fourteen. We moved there so that me and my brother could go to the school, there ’s a school there and, it was a wonderful thing for me because I suddenly was surrounded by people who also meditated and also had this view of life, which to me was very nice to have people who I could share this with.
Renate: Yes, and you went to school and later you studied there. How many years did you live there?
Imogen: So, I lived in Skelmersdale from, I think it was the year 2000 until 2006, when I moved to the TM community in America Fairfield, Iowa. At that point we moved, me and my husband, moved with a company. All the company were meditators, and we decided to move over there and it was after I finished working with the company that I then went to the university which was in America.
Renate: Yeah, well I heard a lot about TM bringing meditation into schools and they do incredible work on that level, and I think it ’s very successful, what do you think?
Imogen: Yeah, I went to a school that specifically, it wasn ’t just bringing TM into the school, the whole curriculum, everything was, it was a transcendental meditation school in itself.
Imogen: So, that was the school I went to. They ’ve since, in the last few years, brought it into mainstream schools and just ordinary schools. They ’re bringing TM into just the programs in the schools to meditate along with the ordinary curriculum.
Imogen: But that wasn ’t quite what I was brought up with. When I went to school we had SCI, Science of Creative Intelligent lessons, and we learned Jyotish and we learned all of these things, as well as these fundamental, sort of ideas about consciousness were brought into the ordinary subjects, your science, your math, your art, all of it was held within that philosophy I guess.
Renate: Yeah, so that ’s the Vedics?
Imogen: Yeah, yeah.
Renate: Yeah, and you also had Ayurveda, you learned about Ayurveda and is that still your life?
Imogen: Um, I mean it ’s always present in my life, it ’s always something that I ’m aware of. It ’s not necessarily something that I ’m active in practicing particularly, even Transcendental Meditation is not something that is active in my life in the same way that it once was.
Renate: Yeah, but is there still meditation in your life? Do you still meditate?
Imogen: It depends what someone ’s definition of mediation. Certainly, I still close my eyes and I still take time out of my day for that, but the meditation that I was taught was mantra based meditation and at some point there was a recognition that there is no difference between meditation and no meditation in me. So, it wasn ’t something that I had to go to to experience and that ’s when the formal meditation dropped away, and I would say life became a sort of a living meditation for me.
Renate: Beautiful. So, you hear a lot about spiritual organizations and the restrictions they put out and working a lot with control and fear. Is that something you were aware or at the time you were aware or, was that completely accepted by you? How did you feel with that?
Imogen: I mean, for me because it was always so, such an ordinary thing for me, I was living my life in this and so when I was growing up, you know, obviously outside of the transcendental meditation organization, this wasn ’t an issue. I wasn ’t very much in touch with it. Going more into it, initially felt wonderful, but I definitely see that there are tones of that in that organization and in every organization, I ’ve since been involved with.
Renate: Sure, yeah.
Imogen: I think it ’s just the nature of it somehow. When you get groups of people together, and you may have an enlightened teacher at the start of that organization, but then you have lots of other people involved and their sort of things that they ’re going through. So, I definitely see that there are, there can be, tones of that. It didn ’t affect me too much to start with but the further along, the more “adult” I got, let ’s say, having my own views coming into it and having my own experiences, then I saw where there was definitely emphasis on things that were acceptable as viewpoints and things which were discouraged. So, yeah, I definitely think there was a flavor of that for sure.
Renate: So, when you learned as a child about consciousness, consciousness the ground of everything, could you actually comprehend what you learned? Was that something also you started to experience or was it just a theory?
Imogen: I mean, it was definitely grounded in experience for me. It wasn ’t grounded in necessarily a continuous experience as in an abiding experience of that, that came later but there was sufficient glimpses and there were sufficient experiences that it was known to me. It was known what was being spoken about theoretically. But I knew experientially what that was because every time I went to meditate, I would recognize what they were talking about. But it was very much an in and out thing, you go in, you go to meditate, and you experience that and then you come out of it. And so, it wasn ’t the experience that was abiding but it was, along with the knowledge, the conceptual knowledge, of that we are all of this. There was definitely that experiential part of it through doing TM for sure.
Renate: Yeah, you were telling me that your childhood was not a very happy one. Your father was an alcoholic and your mother was also a bit mixed up.
Imogen: We ’ve had a difficult relationship, you know, they were human beings going through their own things.
Imogen: And that was tricky to navigate for me I found, `cause I ’m quite sensitive as well.
Renate: Yeah and you said you picked up from them a lot of dysfunctional life strategies.
Imogen: Yeah, I mean, I feel like we all have those dysfunctional life strategies and that ’s how I coped with life, was learning how to, how I thought I should behave. I had a lot of “shoulds” in my life, I had a lot of conditioning. I was a people pleaser so I really, I had a lot of behavior around putting others before myself and the detriment that that can have on someone can be quite large when you start to recognize that. When you ’re in it, it ’s not so much of a problem but I did suffer from depression and things like this in my teenage years even with meditation, which I think must have helped me enormously and I dread to think what life would have looked like without something like that in my life. But it was still tricky, it was still a very tricky time for me.
Renate: Yeah, so how was it tricky? How did it manifest?
Imogen: Well, the obvious one was the depression, that was the obvious one and it was short, sharp, and deep depression for me. But for me, it was how I related to life was so conditioned, so much about the other, so much about how I should behave, who I should be. It got to a point in my life where I really didn ’t know who I was, because I was trying to live in that conditioning of how I felt I should be. And the spiritual conditioning came along with that as well for me.
Renate: So, we normally do that, going away from our self, when we want to feel loved. So, I guess you didn ’t feel loved by your mother or accepted?
Imogen: Um, well I knew, I absolutely knew that she loved me but, yeah I think I struggled to connect my behavior with that deep feeling of love.
Renate: Yes. Did you go through some counseling or what? What was the most helpful thing in… I mean it ’s interesting because you did have experiences of the ground of being and yet on top of it the depression.
Imogen: Yeah, yeah and so this is the thing, I had that knowledge of my ground. I did have that knowledge, it wasn ’t abiding so it was unstable in that way, they were fleeting experiences. I knew conceptually what I was, beyond the humanness, but that humanness wasn ’t accounted for and yet it was still very much playing out in me. I still struggled with life and I was looking for peace and happiness basically. I wasn ’t even looking for enlightenment, even though I was surrounded in a movement where the whole basis is towards enlightenment, that was not my goal ever actually, it was peace and happiness.
Imogen: And I misguidedly, because of who I was at that point, my strategy was avoidance and so I avoided a lot of these very difficult things. That was how I got through those years in many ways. I pushed it all way down and tried to pretend it wasn ’t there somehow and with awakening that lid came popping right off and that was quite a shock to my system honestly.
Renate: It ’s interesting, a few days ago, you probably know Rupert Spira, and he and Ellie are good friends of ours, and we were together last Sunday and he told me exactly what you just said. You know, when you ask people what they really want, they always say “I want happiness”. They do not say “I want awaken” or “I want enlightenment”, “I just want to be happy”. And so, he ’s writing a whole book now on how to be happy, just happy.
Renate: No other, no other spiritual things, just to be happy. [laughs]
Imogen: Yeah, I think it ’s important, because I do think the majority of people, that is, if they ’re really honest, that is what they ’re seeking. Now I think the end point for that happens to be knowing your nature and happens to be awakening but, it ’s not necessarily what people start out looking for.
Renate: Yeah, ok so you just, the last thing you said, the lid blew open.
Imogen: Yeah, yeah.
Renate: And was this when a close friend of yours committed suicide or what happened?
Imogen: Yeah, that was a lid, that was certainly the cracking open. I would say that was the point at which the lid began to, sort of, show its cracks because suddenly I was, at that point I felt like I almost, the experience was, is that I walked out of my life. The life that I was building, the life that I thought I should be building. All the things I was doing, all the right things at that point. I was focused in an area which I felt was good. I had gone back to school to get my degree, I had a house, I had a beautiful husband, I had a beautiful life and all of a sudden this happened and it had such a deep impact on me. And it made me question, “what am I doing here?”; `cause I ’m not actually happy. I ’m looking for happiness and I ’m doing all the things which I think I should be doing to make me happy, but I just saw how easy it was to lose life and how fragile life was. I couldn ’t contain all of that avoidance of emotion that I ’d managed to contain. It was so much all at once that those cracks began to show, those cracks of avoidance began to show and I became interested. My husband Martyn had always been the archetypal spiritual seeker and read every book and watched every Satsang and I was just a bystander, an innocent bystander of all of that. And at that point I began to pick up and hear what they ’re talking about and I can relate a little bit more. He was watching a lot of Adyashanti and Mooji and people like this. So, I started to tune in.
Renate: I have here written down, taken from your writing, “there is a tendency in some spiritual traditions and teachings to ignore inner work, to try to meditate away negative emotions, reactions, thought patterns, and so forth”. So, there was not really, in the TM organization, an outlet to show your feelings and your sadness or your…
Imogen: Yeah, it was very much within the TM organization. There ’s this view of “don ’t entertain negativity”. This is one of their things that are said. As a school child I remember hearing that quite a lot.
Imogen: And also, if there is some roughness in life, meditate more or have your meditation checked. You know, the emphasis was do the meditation, do the work on that level and everything else will be taken care of and it just wasn ’t my experience, it wasn ’t being taken care of. I was doing the meditation and yet my heart was breaking and I couldn ’t, like after this incident, I couldn ’t keep my life together. There was so much breaking happening.
Renate: Do you know anybody who managed to meditate all that away, their heartbreak?
Imogen: I don ’t know, I don ’t know. It ’s not something I ’d want to make a judgement on, but do I know anyone personally who just meditated and that was it? I can ’t think of anyone offhand.
Renate: You know, some time ago I interviewed a guy called Reggie Ray who is the lineage holder of Trungpa Rinpoche. And he has a center in Colorado himself, and he was telling me they meditated. The group meditated for hours and hours and hours, and years and years and years and everybody was depressed, and everybody was unhappy, and he finally realized he does not move. Nothing is moving and he had to leave, and he went into therapy, into psychotherapy, to start releasing certain things - meditation didn ’t do it.
Imogen: Yeah, this was the context that I grew up in. It went unsaid but it was discouraged, in an unsaid way. I felt it was discouraged and I felt that, if you ’re focusing on that, you ’re entertaining the negativity and you just need to “not be negative” and do your meditation and everything will be ok. And so I don ’t feel that that is a helpful guidance for a lot of people because it negates the human experience, and that human experience which I ’m very interested in now having gone through all of this, that ’s where my interest and focus is so much because of my own experience, I think. Because, you know, I was having this recognition of consciousness and yet the humanness was still there and it wasn ’t accounted for in a full enough way for me to really be able to integrate and include that human experience.
Renate: So, what should have happened? What ’s the right thing?
Imogen: Well, in my story it was the perfect thing. In my story, I feel that I went through everything that I went through including the depths of heartbreak and anguish because that was the only way I could learn those lessons. In a more generalized way, I think there needs to be more discussion about this and acceptance about this generally in spiritual organizations instead of just the focus on the absolute or the consciousness. It needs to be both; it needs to have that wholeness in there of the recognition of the ground but also what it means to have the content. It ’s not a negation of the content, as soon as you start to deny that content, that human experience of life, that is changeable but is experienced in this way, so I think that there needs to be both there. That ’s my view of it.
Renate: Yeah, well my teacher always said to reach the absolute is wonderful but it ’s just a beginning.
Imogen: Absolutely agree, I love that.
Renate: Then the real work starts.
Imogen: And you know, that was my experience, I thought it was gonna be the other way around. I thought, to reach the absolute, all this work happens and you purify and you eat the right foods and you do all the right things and then you get the prize, you get the gem, the absolute is there for you to take. It wasn ’t my experience and that ’s not to say, it might some people ’s experience, but it just wasn ’t my experience.
Renate: I was reading a book yesterday written by Cynthia Bourgeault, which I appreciate a lot.
Imogen: I like her.
Renate: Yeah, and there was a sentence in that which, I really, it really hit me and it says “God cannot enter hell, but love can enter hell, and there, redeem it”. So, what I guess that means, it ’s also what you are teaching and what you are saying is, you really need to enter the experience and redeem it and bring it to the light.
Imogen: This is it, you know, people have these big grand narratives that they put on these big words like enlightenment and awareness and to me, I like to break it down much more simply than that. Enlightenment is to enlighten, to bring light, not some big lovely, fluffy idea of light but just literal light, to bring awareness to that which wasn ’t aware. And to do that, you have to go into that, you have to not be afraid of that. You have to include that along side and in with the experience of life and as long as there ’s any sense of light is good, dark is bad you ’re creating a separation of life where I don ’t believe there is any, and this is where you get into trouble actually. You ’re continuously avoiding those aspects of life which you ’ve conceptually deemed as not good.
Renate: Yeah, we had this little chat yesterday and you said one thing which is always standing out with people you ’re working with, they are saying “I should”, “I should be more enlightened”, “I should be already awake” or “I should be…”, I don ’t know, “… a better person” and not really understanding what it means to be a human and what it means… what does it mean to be myself? You know, in the moment you said if we say “should” you can pick up a shadow. Can you say something about that because that ’s interesting?
Imogen: To me, the word, when I hear the word “should”, it ’s like a little red flag of someone ’s conditioning, poking out, and often we don ’t even see it as that. We don ’t even see that it ’s, somehow, we ’ve picked up an idea of how life should be. The heart doesn ’t have a “should”. The heart just acts, the heart just is. If you are in love with something, you know, you ’ve got crisp potato chips, there ’s no “should I eat that”, you just pick them up and eat it. So, this is where the “should” comes in. The “should” comes in in relation to how we think life should or shouldn ’t be, should or shouldn ’t behave, who we are in relation to all of that. And it leaves us with no room to be as we naturally would be. It leaves us in sort of a gilded cage, we start living life as tighter and tighter confinement of what ’s acceptable. And where do we get these ideas of what is acceptable, I mean people have all sorts of ideas of what ’s acceptable, so which one ’s correct? Which culture, which group, which society is correct about that “should”? And so this is the work I find for a lot of people, is to slowly pick apart where those “shoulds” are in their life and they get slippery and subtle and to the point where you can ’t even see them and sometimes that ’s why you get someone coming along and acting as a mirror for you and you can go “oh wow, there ’s a “should”, I didn ’t even realize that was a “should””. And so that ’s been a lot of my work and I ’m still going through that work, I ’m still hitting up into pockets of somewhere where I didn ’t even see there was a “should” and you can feel it. The more you can go along this work, the more you can feel what is natively, spontaneously you, that naturalness of yourself.
Imogen: And the difference between a “should”, the “should” has a somatic feeling to it, a tightness even and people experience that differently but it ’s important to be able to root those out I think.
Renate: It seems you have such a deep understanding of your body to be able to read all that and that reminds me on the other poem, you know, you write wonderful poem. Let me see if I have it, which says “The Head or Heart”, “there ’s a constant exploration of life that is immediate, to listen to your body, your physical response to life, your intuitive knowingness, the pull towards yes or no, not on an intellectual level but on the physical level of what ’s right and wrong for you in that moment”. And I think that ’s a big step to come to this point where you really learn the body ’s message. What is the right and what is the wrong? I know you would say there is no right and wrong.
Imogen: No, but you feel it. It ’s not a conceptual right or wrong. It ’s a felt right or wrong and that ’s the difference for me. The reason why I feel I can talk so much about this is because I was so far in the other direction. I was so, so, so out of touch with my intuitive sense, which you ’d think I would be much more in touch having done all this meditation, but I was so far out of touch with my sense of self, my human sense of self, not the absolute sense of self in those terms, you know, we can use different terminologies, but I ’m talking more on the humanness side of that, the personality, the naturalness of this embodied Imogen. I was so far away from that, that I really had no idea of who I was really on that level. So, this is why I talk about it, because I ’ve had to fight my way from that, from having no connection to that. And I think it started that moment when my friend passed away, it ’s like life flooded in and I started to feel myself more. I started to feel my experience because I was feeling grief for a start that I couldn ’t put a lid on, that I couldn ’t, sort of, shut down ‘cause it was so great. And so, I think that ’s probably where I ’d say it really started for me but now it ’s like every time I don ’t listen to myself life smacks me and those lessons get harder and harder and louder and louder and we all, I think, we just have to learn to listen. And if you don ’t listen, they get louder and louder, so I had the loud lessons. I had the really, in your face, loud lessons of life, of me ignoring life actually, ignoring myself, ignoring how life wanted to move through me. So, I learned the hard way, which is probably why I can talk somewhat about this because I had to learn those lessons again and again and again and I still do sometimes. Because there was so much of a level of conditioning, particularly around a disconnect from my felt experience. I still don ’t get it right sometimes; I still ignore the signs and don ’t listen to myself. I ’m getting better, a lot better, but it ’s been a big struggle in my life, I think.
Renate: Yeah, well I guess if you ’re rushing through life, you know, there is no room to listen to the body. I think if we bring more awareness and do things slower…
Imogen: You can ’t help but not listen then, it ’s almost like the spot on the white sheet. It becomes really obvious, really quickly.
Renate: Nice, so let ’s start a little bit more with your story. So, by the time you started, Martyn, your husband, was interested in Adyashanti and I think you mentioned also Amma?
Imogen: Yeah, well that was a little bit earlier in the story actually. She was the first person outside of the TM that I ’d ever seen or experienced. I was a TM girl, I knew nothing other than TM, you know that was my world. And it was Martyn, he was into everyone, he always had been from a really early age. He came to TM later in life but he, while we were living in Skelmersdale at the time, and he was like, “I ’d really love it, she ’s coming to London, I ’d really love it if you come down and see her” and I was pretty, I mean I was open, but I was skeptical. I have this, sort of, two sides of me where I ’m open to something but I ’m still like, hmmm… we ’ll see how this goes. So, he dragged me down to London and, you know, didn ’t want to say too much because he didn ’t want to preempt my own experience but I ’d come from the TM movement which is all very sedate and calm and quiet and then I walk in the room and there ’s Bhajans and it ’s loud and there ’s loads of people and all of this. I remember, she wasn ’t in the room, and we were chatting with some of his friends and she must have come into the hall behind me, and I just had this experience of just everything stopped. He literally had to guide me and sit me down in a chair, cause just everything stopped for me. So, that was my first experience outside of the TM movement. I never got to meet Maharishi, my mom got to meet Maharishi, but I never got to so it was all videotapes, which were strong in themselves, the darshan, the presence felt was strong and I knew what that was so to have that happen with another teacher, it was quite profound for me. It opened my world up to the world outside of TM and the possibility of other teachers and sages and gurus and that whole thing. So, that was my first, I would say, taste of that.
Renate: Yeah, so by that time your awakening still was not abiding but it would come and go?
Imogen: Yeah, I ’d have experiences of my nature, but it certainly wasn ’t stable. It was very much linked to meditation, apart from like that experience with Amma obviously, but for me it was something that happened when I went to close my eyes and meditated. It wasn ’t something that was in my life outside of meditation very much.
Renate: Yeah, so then you went to see Adyashanti or was there somebody in between? Was Mooji in between?
Imogen: We were watching Mooji, Martyn was, I think Martyn was like watching everyone, anyone who he could get his hands on at this point. There was all these teachers doing Satsangs online, the Wayne Liquormans of the world, the David Speros, the Lisa Cairns, I mean all of them, there ’s a laundry list of them.
Imogen: So he was doing that, but I would generally tune into a little bit of Mooji, a little bit of Adyashanti, a little bit of Wayne Liquorman were kind of, you know, they were on in the background in the tv for me.
Renate: So, you still were not really searching for something?
Imogen: No, honestly, even though my life looks like I ’m a spiritual seeker from the outside, I would honestly say I was never searching for something in that way from a teacher. But, yeah, we went to this, after my whole life sort of fell apart, and there was more of an openness to teachers, Martyn had wanted to go on an Adyashanti silent retreat and I was just like, I ’m not so sure about doing this, I really wasn ’t keen on it but he convinced me and I was happy to do it in the end. We went to Asheville and actually the morning of that retreat I had an awakening, actually, is the easiest way to say it. I was reading Suzanne Segal ’s book “Collision with the Infinite” and I ’d been reading it out loud the night before to Martyn and in the early hours of the morning I remember just picking up and reading it and I don ’t know where I was, I can ’t remember but I remember reading something and looking up at, I was still in bed, looking up, out of the skylight and seeing the tree and having this like pop moment of like there is no difference between me and the tree. And it was a very strong experience, very strong experience. I mean, it felt like, the easiest way to describe it, it felt like I was tripping, it felt like I was on drugs of some sort because, you know, I remember packing my bag and I was watching this emptiness pack this bag and it was like, it was such a bizarre experience for me. Nothing that I ’d experienced before.
Renate: It ’s an interesting statement, “I was watching the emptiness packing the bag”.
Imogen: Yeah and doing it the way that Imogen would have done it, but there was no Imogen doing it. It was just happening.
Renate: Was that not frightening for you because I mean, I know from Suzanne Segal ’s book it was terrifying for her?
Imogen: Yeah, so she went through that terrifying… no it wasn ’t terrifying for me. Maybe cause I had some more context or something, I don ’t know and because Martyn who had all the context in the world, was sort of there and sort of fascinated and he seemed excited and was watching this whole process and I remember looking in the mirror and I ’m like there ’s no difference between the Imogen here and the image of the mirror. I remember having all these, sort of… it was like an exploration and Martyn was going through this with me as an exploration so it was kind of exciting actually.
Renate: Would you say the self-identity started to dissolve?
Imogen: It disappeared; it left the building. In that moment it left the building. There was no self-identity in those terms, it was just life happening.
Renate: An open space.
Imogen: Yeah, there was no Imogen in here, and I ’d had that in meditation but you ’d have the eyes closed and all the thoughts are gone and so that sort of seems like, but this was no Imogen walking around, talking, packing a bag, eating breakfast, you know, all of that was happening within this context of there ’s no Imogen here, she just upped and left in that way. So that was a very, very bizarre experience and it only lasted about, sort of, I can ’t even remember really, but about 36 hours, 48 hours, like a day and a half or so into the retreat it lasted but then it faded. But I couldn ’t not see what I ’d seen at that point.
Imogen: My life changed from that point for sure, something shifted, permanently something shifted. It wasn ’t ever that direct experience, but something did permanently shift from that point.
Renate: So, what is living your life, what is living this life? I mean experiencing it, this profound experience. Where are you? Where it ’s so obvious that there isn ’t anybody in charge or in control. So how do you do live your daily life, and you know, do whatever you ’re doing, being a teacher, a housewife, a lover, and knowing nobody is doing that?
Imogen: Yeah, the thing is, no one was ever doing that.
Imogen: And so that ’s the thing, people go, well how? I ’m gonna be a vegetable. I ’m not going to be able to do anything and I come up against this fear all the time in people and it ’s like no, nothing has changed, actually. Life still continues, even choices still appear, happenings still happen, it ’s just that the ownership of that, and the one that feels like it ’s pulling the strings, the ego mind structure that thinks it ’s in control is what sort of, it’s seen through, it ’s not even that it goes necessarily. You know, I ’m not one of these people that ’s like bashing the ego, like you have to get rid of the ego, I ’m like, no it ’s fine. You just have to see it and when you see it, it just becomes a part of the play as well. So how do I live my life? Like I always lived my life.
Renate: Yeah. [laughs]
Imogen: Some things have changed for sure, but it ’s not some big, you know, suddenly life is a completely different realm. Life still happens in the way it always has done and I think that ’s what ’s beautiful about it.
Renate: Yeah, well I know some people who had this profound experience and the ego structure never put itself together and they literally became vegetables and they had to recreate an ego structure, otherwise they couldn ’t, they didn ’t function anymore.
Imogen: I come across people like that as well and I think it ’s a phase and I think they can be supported through that and it ’s a case of that. I would call that integration; I would call that there needs to be the integration of the absolute and the humanness there. There needs to be the learning to live, and that can be harder for some people, particularly if there ’s such a profound shift that everything falls apart. And if they don ’t have the context, I mean Suzanne Segal ’s a perfect example, she didn ’t have the context of what was going on and so she suffered that. And there can be deep suffering in that I think, which, people think that awakening is, and people have different views of this, but some people view that there ’s no suffering upon awakening and I see that that ’s, it may be the viewpoint of suffering changes but on the human level there can still be suffering. On a deeper level, there is acceptance I believe. There ’s an okayness with life.
Renate: But you had difficulties after that experience I think yourself.
Renate: When, I don ’t know, all the structures came up into awareness and can you say something about that time?
Imogen: Yeah so, after that whole Adyashanti thing, and it shifted back into something, life was very blissful but I wouldn ’t actually, I mean, I don ’t know what to call it, but I would say that was like the first stages of awakening. It wasn ’t until later that I actually would say was the point at which I had a real permanent shift that abided and that was maybe a year later. And at that point was when all of those ego structures, all of the resistance that those ego structures provide for avoiding whatever is needed to be avoided in life in order for that ego to kind of be comfortable and exist in its comfort, that went. When I talk about the lid coming off, that ’s the point at which I would say, and that happened after receiving a transmission and it was a very painful time for me because all the stuff that I ’d managed to avoid I could no longer avoid. I was experiencing life, just so raw in the moment. I was experiencing everything, not just the good bits, the bad bits as well and I ’d never fully experienced that before. I ’d, even with this great experience with Adyashanti, it was so short lived that it didn ’t almost give time for all of that to arise so this happened, maybe, a few weeks after that shift that I received from that transmission. Maybe a few weeks later is when it like, first few weeks was all great and bliss and exploration of life and everything was like new. It was like I was a small child.
Renate: Was it kind of a freedom you felt?
Imogen: Yes, yes, oh totally, and excitement of life. It was almost like I was blind and someone had put a pair of glasses on and everything felt crystal clear. And so at first, that was the experience, sort of, this honeymoon phase of like wow, you know, look at this life but it quite quickly turned into my own personal hell it felt like at the time. And was a very difficult time because I felt in between worlds at that point. I had this obvious new view of life, but there was still all of the old conditioning in place, and so it felt very messy in that there was both of these things and they were in obvious conflict. I couldn ’t see it at the time that that was clearly what was happening, but I see now that was what was clearly happening. There was the conflict of my natural self, my naturalness, in complete opposition to all of that conditioning, all of that dysfunctional way of, sort of, you know that was the strategy, that was how I survived life and it ’s not wrong, it wasn ’t wrong, it was how it got me to be where I was but it didn ’t fit anymore. It was like the round hole and the square you know, they didn ’t fit anymore and so that was, I would say, what turned out to be a year or even two of dismantling all that conditioning. It meant I had to swing away from that conditioning into complete non-conditioning and back again. I had a lot of one foot in one place and one foot in the other. It was all just, very messy. [both laugh]
Renate: Well, the word messy reminded me about a little chat we had yesterday where you said, we talked about the intense time we are living through and it ’s a whole mess on so many levels, and you said “the mess is the harmony”. And that, I have to tell you, that completely hit me the way you smashed it out at me because I ’m such a perfectionist. And then I remembered this story of one of my sons, he was incredibly messy always. His room, he didn ’t put any clothes into the cupboard, it was just all on a pile and when I came, I cleaned it all up. And he would say “mommy, you just made a mess of my harmony”. [both laugh]
Imogen: There you go, there you go. It’s been in your life.
Renate: And then he made it messy again and said “and now you sit down and you meditate on my mess”. [both laugh]
Imogen: Very, very beautiful. Very wise son there.
Renate: Well, yeah, I just remembered that story during the night when I couldn ’t sleep last night and you know it ’s… we always hear everything is as it is, acceptance of… but you say the mess is the harmony, it was like of course, of course, it ’s always the harmony.
Imogen: It is, that ’s what life is offering up in that moment. That is the cutting edge of life and as soon as you start to say this isn ’t acceptable of life, you ’re putting a condition on life, you ’re saying this is wrong, this shouldn ’t be. That ’s not acceptance, that ’s not life actually, so for me, in that moment, if that messiness is there, it ’s because life is wanting that messiness, that is the best its got, and we as human beings start to put conceptions on that, on what ’s acceptable, what ’s not. And, it ’s like, no, that is what life is gifting, that ’s the wisdom of life in that moment. Life isn ’t about comfort, now if life was about comfort, then sure the view of more messiness, yeah ok, there ’s not comfort in messiness. But my view is that life is about wisdom, life is about teaching and learning and exploring, it ’s not about comfort. And so, that messiness, in that moment, is life and I think it ’s a beautiful part of life. And I used to be someone who was the perfectionist and who wanted everything to be peaceful and perfect and calm and everyone happy and that ’s part of the unwinding of that conditioning for me, has being able to learn to, not only accept, but love, and I use the words “acceptance” and “love” often as quite synonymous in my work because to me they are. What you love, you accept and what you accept you love and so to me when that was able to be accepted within me, that messiness, all of a sudden it opens up life to that freedom, it breaks open that cage. It breaks open that cage of conditioning that says life, if it ’s messy, it ’s bad, and I, very much, felt that before but now, it ’s like - no, that is the harmony, is that messiness. If that messiness is there, that ’s what life is calling for.
Renate: So, it feels like for me now, as you talk, that the acceptance of the messiness is coming out of your heart.
Renate: Is that when the mind drops to the heart?
Imogen: Yeah, you see the mind is all about this or that, you know, it ’s a very analytical tool in my view. It ’s like it wants your two plus two equals four. It wants these neat little boxes, it ’s this or it ’s that. The heart has no such requirements, the heart can have seeming opposites, seeming paradoxes that don ’t make any sense to the mind all within it. So, this is the dropping to the heart, it can contain all of it. It can contain the sublime and the ridiculous perfectly. It doesn ’t need life to have these very strong structural, sort of, rights and wrongs in it and so that ’s dropping out of the conceptual mind and into the heart of life. And I mean that both literally and figuratively, it ’s a very different experience of life when that finally drops. Because it can also include the mind then, that ’s what ’s beautiful is you don ’t have to like, start to exclude the mind, it includes all of it.
Imogen: It accepts all of it.
Renate: Well, your passion for life is, is beautiful. Yeah. Where have you been in your story, I don ’t know how long we have time, more time, but I think maybe ten minutes. So, you had it, you had a transmission, you followed your husband to somebody called Ramana in America…
Renate: … Ramaji, and your husband went there and completely changed and you had your doubts as usual [both laugh]. And then you went there a little later and that ’s what brought you home.
Imogen: Yeah, I mean, it ’s all over… it wasn ’t going there, it was all like this, on skype, which is definitely why I had a lot of doubts at the time, you know.
Imogen: I come from this world of you practice, you practice, you practice, you practice, and then you get established in that. So this idea of having a fifteen minute transmission and you ’re done, I was very skeptical of. And I see now that that ’s maybe more unusual then I thought at the time, then I realized at the time, to have a single transmission but that ’s what happened to both me and him. Yeah, it ’s just that one transmission and my life changed actually, it ’s the easiest way to put it, from that point on.
Renate: So, then the awakening, became an abiding and…
Imogen: Yeah, it was Martyn who noticed it first actually the morning after. I had it quite late at night and then I went straight to sleep and I remember walking the next morning, and this was six months after Martyn had had his transmission and his subsequent shift, and he really noticed a different fragrance of me. There was an openness like as if he could go anywhere with me. There was no wall, you know, often when you meet someone who is very held conceptually in their mind, there ’s places you can ’t touch, like you can ’t talk about this subject or you can ’t touch that, that held dearly conception about themselves or their mask or whatever it is. And he said that for the first time he felt there was this, sort of, airiness about me, where he could go anywhere like as if there was no walls anymore. And so, it was him that first noticed a difference and then I started to notice, it was a gradual noticing of how different I was interacting with life actually. You know, the people pleasing of worrying about how someone else would be and how they are. I was just not at war with life anymore. I was able to allow or whatever was happening, I was able to fully feel whatever was happening. And this was the honeymoon phase to start with so everything felt really good as well. It just felt like one big exploration like I was a kid in a candy story exploring life for the first time, it felt like it was for the first time actually.
Renate: Yeah, beautiful. And then students started flocking to you and you were, you were highly recommended by one of your students, she is in Germany and, I mean, she told me wonderful things about you, which I am experiencing now. [both laugh]
Imogen: I have some of the most beautiful people coming to my door. You asked me yesterday who inspires me. A hundred percent, hands down, I got off the conversation, I went, that was what I didn ’t say was that the people that come to me, I learn so much from them and I ’m inspired so much by them, without a doubt, you know. The students thing, yeah, no, no, it didn ’t happen that way.
Imogen: At all, at all. It was a few years, I mean, we ’re talking that was back in 2015, so we ’re talking five years and I ’ve only really, it ’s only been this last year, I mean, it ’s been a couple of years now but this isn ’t my natural habitat. I ’m pretty ambivalent and reluctant to this, honestly. If I ’m completely honest, it ’s not ever what I imaged myself or for my life. And I still struggle with that sometimes because it ’s not what I would think of for myself. I ’m just letting life, sort of, move through me is the easiest way to say it. But I went through those rough couple of years, and I couldn ’t have spoken to anyone else. I was writing a lot and that ’s when my website started, I started not for anyone else, but just to be writing, it was like someone turned on a tap. I was very shy before, I never had anything to say really, and then this happened and I suddenly, it was like a tap and the words were just there in the middle of the night, words, words, words, words, all the time. Just the exploration of my experience I guess, but on the other stroke of it I was experiencing this excruciating unwinding of my conditioning which was not comfortable at all and it was not comfortable for my relationships. Everything changed, so all the way that I was relating to people beforehand didn ’t working anymore because I wasn ’t that person. I was not that conditioning which I once was. And then we were given the opportunity to actually learn how to give that transmission and that ’s when I was, sort of, like okay, life is asking me to step up to this. It wasn ’t comfortable for me but it was like okay, it ’s, do I put the handbrake on of life or do I let life move as it is moving. And so that was the point that I started seeing people and having sessions with them. But it was very slowly, slowly, and very, you know, again, that ambivalence was very much there. It ’s only been this last, sort of, six months, certainly six months, maybe a year that I ’ve really stepped up into okay life, this is what you ’re asking of me, alright I ’m all in then. And you tell me where I need to go then, and that ’s what ’s happened. I ’m learning to trust myself on a deep, deep level and that ’s been a hard-won journey, but it ’s been so fruitful for me to continually be in that journey actually.
Renate: Yeah, and so you give also divine light transmission by Zoom?
Renate: I never took part in one but I, I would like, I will take part in one and experience that.
Imogen: Yeah, yeah. It ’s, you know, transmissions like my story suggests, I was skeptical of this. And yet I look back at my life and this idea of transmission was throughout it actually. It just depends on your definition of transmission really.
Renate: Yes. Well, yesterday we spoke a little bit about it and you had an interesting theory about how they might, how the world might wake up.
Renate: It might wake up through transmissions.
Imogen: I mean, I don ’t know, I don ’t know…
Renate: If enough people wake up and transmit it around like, like herd immunity. [laughs]
Imogen: Well, yeah, again I want to broaden out the conception of transmission in that we are all transmitting, you and I are transmitting here with that, we ’re emanating the experience of life. And to me, it ’s modeling that and it used to be you had to go off into the Himalayan caves and there weren ’t many people to model that. There weren ’t many people for us to see what the possibility of living a life of freedom, of living a life as yourself prior to that conditioning of living a life of fullness. And so, now you just turn on the internet and there are people out there just being themselves and you see that and you feel it enlivened in you when you meet another person who is just so grounded in themselves. Then you feel that, you feel what that feels like in you in that moment as well. And so, I think there ’s so many more people modeling that in the world and I think it ’s a beautiful thing.
Renate: Beautiful. So, we have to finish now and I asked you to read one of your poems which I really love, would you like to do that now?
Imogen: Yes. “Life is a gift. A gift of grace. And with this recognition I bow to the feet of life in gratitude. Grace courses through us in everything we touch, in everything we experience. There is nothing that isn ’t grace. It ’s all by grace. For me, is the most powerful and humbling recognition, the acknowledgement that I have no control. That I am here, all of me, all of my experiencing - by grace”.
Renate: Thank you. Beautiful. So, yeah it ’s the end, thank you Imogen for talking with me today and thank you for watching ConsciousTV and I hope to see you again soon. Bye, bye.
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