I came across the teachings of Advaita Vedanta at 20 years of age whilst in my second year of University, when at the time I was introduced to The Society for the Study of Normal Psychology (The Study Society) in London, an open organisation dedicated to the exploration of the non-dual teachings at the core of the world’s major religions.
Through The Study Society I discovered the teachings of His Holiness Shantanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, in Northern India. I immediately fell in love with the familiarity of the stories, books and teachings, which echoed the experiences I still had in my memory from my childhood and that still dwelt within my heart.
For another 15 years I deeply explored the reality of every experience, there was a deep desire and love for Truth that went to the core of my being, and which has been, and still is, a most intimate and utterly relentless happening.
Not uncommon I’m sure, the lasting shift in identity was triggered in 2009 by what seemed at the time to be a massive disaster in my life; my ultimate nightmare, the worst thing that could ever have happened to this particular being. It was perfect. It resulted in every ‘thing’ that I clung on to, every ‘thing’ that I believed in, every ‘thing’ that I had identity in, every ‘thing’ that had been constructed to support this contracted ‘life’, being brutally stripped away all at once.
Home alone one afternoon, as I lay in the bath, exhausted, withdrawn deeply and in tears, there was a timeless moment where I became aware that absolutely nothing of ‘Jeannie’ was being held on to, that there was no resistance to what is, even if ‘what is’ was death; I was totally prepared to die. In that instant I received what I can only describe as a literal invitation to ‘Die as Jeannie’, and, because there was no fear - I had already experienced what I most feared - and no holding on to being ‘Jeannie’, a spontaneous, unreserved, authentic and complete following of this invitation with all of my being happened that manifested as a primordial bellow of the words ‘I die as Jeannie’. I felt an internal mechanism go off in the body, a kind of ‘checking’ for any sense of holding back; there was none.
What instantly followed was utter Silence. I seemed to have slipped into an infinite and vitally alive void of pure potentiality. The complete absence of any personal Jeannie or world. It was prior to any thing, prior to the entire manifest world of form - there was no thinking mind, no body, no emotion, no personality, no sensations, no objects of any kind, no world and yet it was vitally alive; it was infinite aliveness. A vital stasis, and I was there. Nothing that I thought I was was there, nothing I knew was there, there were no objects or attributes whatsoever, yet it was me and there was the knowing that this ‘Vital Aliveness’ was the source and substance of all ‘things’; that this is what I ultimately am, that it is utterly Universal, and that what I ultimately am manifests as the entirety of life itself.
When I came out of this happening, it was as if an atomic bomb had gone off in my brain. I leapt from the bath grabbing a towel to wrap the body in and paced around the bathroom and into the bedroom. The mind had absolutely nowhere to run, nothing to cling to, no answers or explanations. It kept going to comment on what had happened, but it kept hitting its limit like going headlong into a brick wall. Nothing that it could say about the happening, about what I am, about the world of form could be believed.
The event collapsed the false identification with the separate self; with thoughts, memory, belief, feelings, emotions, sensations and the body to be the totality of what I am. Instantaneously resolving the grief. It was as if it was an event of cosmic proportions, like the atom bomb had gone off in the basement of the ego construction, leaving a crumbling house with no foundations. Boom. It was the end and the beginning in one.
The mind, that until that moment of collapse in 2009 had been the King on the throne of the story of the Jeannie character, has became, over the years, the servant and lover of Truth, of this eternal and infinite, vital and abundant eternity that I Am and that is all that is perceived.
I have found that it is vitally important if I truly want to live Truthfully in every moment, and I do, that I make time to go deeply to the root of the root of being in meditation as often as possible. That meditation is not the time for mantra, or contemplation or revelation or realisation, it is time for Silence, it is time to go deeply into the ground of being and simply luxuriate as that, asking nothing.
It is so very costly to be pulled out of ourselves - it's exhausting and stimulates the psyche. To be rooted in Silence, our natural state, to be in the world as the silent ground of being as we go about our day as everything that we have realised, enables us to be of most service to the world in our daily activity.
So, now, as well as running a business and the Meeting Truth website with my husband, I have come to speak and write about non-duality and share Satsang at my home in Shropshire in the UK, and wherever else I’m invited.