Change Agency from a Light Tower

“There is no loftier mission than to approach the Divinity nearer than other men and to disseminate the divine rays among mankind.”

Ludwig van Beethoven

What do we owe the world if we are healthy and happy? How do we feel in the presence of a joyful human being? What does a person who is not suffering need? I’ve been contemplating these questions in the time of the Coronavirus.

I remember living in Abu Dhabi during the Egyptian Revolution and the Arab Spring. At that time, I wrote a piece called, Losing the Middle East. It starts:

Forgive me, God- for I am writing this from the comfort of a five star hotel. While young men and women are battling each other for freedom on the streets of Cairo, I am taking a jog around a manicured Abu Dhabi, a safe haven while I toil with all that has become undone.

In the time of the Coronavirus, there are those who are sick and dying. Amen.

There are others who are fortunate and distancing. Some are outside protesting and dismantling unjust things. Others are waiting it out or stuck in survival-mode routines. And then, there are those who are healthy and happy and exercising agency from a light tower of their making. What does this mean?

It means that the world has changed and continues to change rapidly since the Arab Spring. Human beings are responding to change differently and each response is acceptable and worthy. More importantly, there is evidence to suggest that there is a growing number of people emerging, a new consciousness, if you will, moving toward a revolutionary activity I call Light Agency.

Lighthouse, Ríos, 2015

Light Agency is about letting go of fear and anything that makes us feel small, powerless, guilty and worried. It’s about choosing to live fully in the present moment and dedicating time to manifesting. It’s about revolutionizing the world by reviving the circuits within and then holding the live circuits open. It’s about sitting and basking in light, making a moment-by-moment commitment to focus on love, happiness and vitality. It’s about applying reiki to the world by paying attention to how you move your body through space-time for healing. It’s about infusing yourself with light because you know that nothing travels faster than the speed of light and you want to disseminate this feeling everywhere, to everybody, all the time.

Forgive me, Father—for I wanted to see the pyramids so badly! I had read about the energy, the power underneath! 
Forgive me, God— for today is Friday and from the comfort of my terrace, I see the white mosque over on the other side of the bay. It just floats out there as if it were being held magically over the water. And I am here with a fire in my heart.

Over the holiday, I sat with my sister holding her baby daughter who is a precious jewel. I observed the light bouncing off her eyes as they mirrored each other; it was the miracle of life and motherhood, infused with lightness of being, a sense of gratitude, peace and purpose. Delighted by this light, the curious teacher in me wondered: What can I say that will help my sister in this moment?

That’s when I fumbled and missed it.

I want to kneel down beside the barefoot men 
who are inside praying to you, our father.
But I choose to stay here and write.

Ageless Mind Body

To be yourself and act fully in the moment is to be young.

We are born authentic, curious and engaged. Children are this way naturally but as we grow older, we absorb knowledge and the perceptions of others, we integrate life experience which translates into fear and insecurity. These things weigh heavy on the mind body. We can age crooked, tired and sick. Or, we can age gracefully. This is the topic of ageless mind body, thinking about how we can we preserve youthfulness and vitality as we grow older.

I am walking down a long, wide road. It’s early fall and I breathe in the cool crisp air. My gait is easy. I feel gentleness and a window opening. I’m both wise and adolescent simultaneously. I wander into a jewelry store and consider an item that has a secret meaning. My eyes moisten with memories of the past, but I am fully in the present and there is a future Self hovering over me. I’m standing at the intersection of time. I am ageless mind body.

I pass by an old toy store. I marvel at the puzzles and charming puppets. I want to go inside and touch the colorful figurines. I’m aware that my feelings about toy stores are changing. My children are no longer with me. I am now the old man behind the counter. I am nobody and somebody. There is timeless magic in an antique store filled with playful things.

We can prepare ourselves for a youthful, vital old age followed by a peaceful death. We can relax our face and body scars. We can heal old wounds and feel well. We can let go of excess weight. It is our nature to be authentic, curious and engaged—to be ageless, happy, light and free; to choose healthy, deeply satisfying activities that will have a positive impact on our mind body.

There is a man who has one shoulder lower than the other. Further down the path, a woman with a hump on her back. I think, these are medical abnormalities. On the other hand, I feel like it’s the burden they carry. In response to this scene, I watch my step and begin to walk mindfully. I feel each step aligned in weight and balance. To my right, a woman jogs with robust legs and she has laugh lines just like me. Beyond, there is an elderly couple holding hands and I estimate their age to be somewhere between seventy-nine and ninety. They are petite and lovely.

El Retiro, Madrid, 2021

When we break with routine and monotony, we are refreshed and exhilarated. When we change our environment our eyes open anew. These are small leaps into youthfulness and vitality; we become aware of different worlds that exist beyond our small world and that moves us beyond our daily suffering.

We become aware we are not our body, that our mind is a tool of perception. We learn that ageless mind body is a mindful feedback loop in which perception impacts behavior and behavior impacts perception and this sheds new light onto our bodies.

I engage with the butcher when I go to buy meat for dinner. I am aware that I am younger and more relaxed when I open up to him and share something beyond my order. Something relaxes in my face and eyes and I see this in his face and in his eyes. I become a magnet with my lips and with my eyes and with laughter. It’s not that I don’t see age, I do. I see wrinkles, I see folds on elbows and thinning hair. But there is something else there– humor, curiosity and irony. That is ageless mind body.

What is Bardo?

Bardo is a Tibetan word that means in-between. It’s sometimes translated as intermediate state. Chögyam Trungpa, author of The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing In The Bardo, says Bardo means gap. It’s not only the interval of suspension after we die but also the interval of suspension in the living situation. In other words, we can experience a ritualistic death while living.

After the loss of my husband, I’ve come to know Bardo. In many ways, I’m still in the in-between stage. After a year though, I’m more aware and observing, less agonizing. A greater consciousness is emerging. Something about it feels good suddenly. It’s like a rock that hits water and sinks but rings of consciousness emanate out from it. I’m observing what was and simultaneously observing what will be. In this present state, time appears to collapse entirely.

There is still tenderness about it and anticipation.

A person who loses a loved one transforms in mind, body and spirit. If you were unaware of this, know it’s a ritualistic death– a Bardo. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, know it will happen one day because everybody dies eventually. I think it’s good to understand this because maybe we might fear death less. We might suffer less. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel pain. It means we change our perception of the pain and that makes a difference.

In the Bardo, I discovered a bridge. I think now that where there is a gap, there’s always a bridge. The bridge of Bardo is our access to the infinite.

I know that when we lose a loved one, we can expand our consciousness. We can become aware of our capacity to move through life with more love and tenderness. We come to realize that the love of our beloved is infinite and can be an eternal source of energy for us, an energy that we can absorb and recycle as we move into the next stage of our lives.

Over the last few months, I began to visualize how I can help others navigate this time. It took me a while and I depended on others to be there for me and I’d like to do the same. I’d like to share some strategies that were essential for me, essential nutrients so to speak.

Starting this January, I’m facilitating a mindfulness meditation support and learning group. For more information about joining this group, please go to my Mindful Bardō page.