Becoming Mindful of Golden Key Memories

When we are unsure of ourselves, lost or grieving, we can get trapped in past memories. When we allow them to be through mindfulness, we find that buried in a memory is a golden key; a hidden message that can trigger a shift in consciousness for healing.

I’d like to share one such memory.

It was an ordinary evening before my husband died. He had gone into the study after dinner while I sat in the living room alone. A profound feeling of sadness came over me and I got up and went to the study. I leaned up against the door and watched him stare into the computer screen. When he looked up, I remember thinking his cheeks were pale and his eyes weary. We had been married for 25 years and we considered ourselves warriors.

 “You can go,” I announced. “You’re so tired and you deserve to be happy.” The words just poured out of my mouth.

Under ordinary circumstances, that kind of remark would have seemed out of place, but in that moment he didn’t blink. He just looked at me and I looked at him and it was as if we were remembering our entire relationship. There was love and care in that moment and I wanted to cry, but I kept calm.

“You don’t have to worry about me anymore,” I continued. “And our kids? They are amazing. They’re grown up now and it’s okay. I just want you to know it’s okay, if you go. You deserve to be happy.”

My husband’s eyes closed and opened in slow motion. He was tired and kind. “What are you talking about?” He asked gently but somehow the question felt rehearsed. “Where do you want me to go?”

“You’ve been taking care of us for so long and you don’t have to worry any more. I’m strong now and time is passing so quickly and you’re so tired. You don’t have to take care of me anymore,” I said, getting emotional now. “You can be free. You can leave.”

He cocked his head to one side and a lightness of being spread over his face like when we were twenty something. “Where do you want me to go?” he repeated.

I just looked at him as if he’d forgotten.

Then, my lip quivered. “Home,” I said.

I remember feeling possessed with the thought that I had to give him permission to leave me, leave us. That he would not be happy if he stayed because it was obligation when his spirit wanted to be free. I imagined him running off to the country of his birth and living by the sea. How much he loved it there! Mostly, I imagined him at peace and carefree. His happiness was the most important thing.

“How am I supposed to leave without you and the kids?” He asked and then chuckled softly, gently.  

The moment filled with compassion.

Then, he turned away and after a moment, I walked away.

Back in the living room, I sat. I felt tender, sad and powerless but then the moment passed and I began to feel a little silly and confused like, what was that all about?

A few months after, my husband died. Later, when I tossed his ashes into the deep blue sea of his country, I thought he was finally home and his spirit was free. He had found the courage to go home and be free without me. At least that’s what I thought then.

Now, it’s been a year and I think, yes, he’s home and he’s free and even though we are not together, we are gentle kindred spirits with deep compassion for each other. What happened then and what’s happening now are simply part of our destiny. Becoming open and caring and mindful of these golden key memories have been part of my journey. That one, in particular, taught me how souls speak to one another and there are moments in life that transcend all reasoning. There is a language of the spirit and in death, in loss, in grief– we can open this window to reveal hidden truths about who we are and who we’re meant to be.

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.

Love in The Dark Night of the Soul

“Real love always involves a transgression.” George Bataille

It’s always important to start and end with love even when we’re conditioned otherwise. Like, how we deal with this strange heaviness about us. This dark night of the soul.

Any experience of darkness needs to be looked at with love or else we might get lost, or worse yet, eaten up alive. Even in the worst of times, we must take care to look at our current life experience as a quest for love. Self-love and our capacity to love another.

Love is the driving force in every human being. It is the life force energy. Even those things we’d rather not see, like ugliness, stealth, pain or misery—we are talking about a love journey.

Everything is under construction. Everything is exploding. There is confusion and discord. Even language, our use of words is deafening.

My husband is dead and I’m aflame. A love sick puppy. Another Black man was murdered on the street. This virus is stifling. And there’s love.

Love makes life worth living. We want to be seen and loved for who we are.  It hurts when we don’t have these two fundamental things. When love is lacking, we are bored like the devil, restless and thirsty. Sometimes, we try to let go of this notion of love entirely. This happens at a very deep personal level or it can happen in large numbers poisoning society.

There are protests and riots on the streets. We’ve been poisoned by hate, fear and scarcity thinking. We uphold rules and social norms that stifle love with its freedom and creativity. We create institutions that are limiting and then we wonder why people want to break free. Where there is no love, there is no freedom, and our souls, our humanity wither away. We see all forms of escape from this dilemma. Some want to burn the house down.

This morning I went to the store for bread with five dollars in my pocket. I greet the cashier, a dark skinned African American lady. She rings me up and tells me, $5.50. I repeat, $5.50? The prices are inflated all over the city. I take out my roll and count as if somehow I’d have enough. How much do you need? She asks me. Fifty, I say, muttering. She reaches under the counter and pulls out a small plastic bag of coins from her purse. She counts out the change and rings me up and my eyes fill with tears and I’m grateful and ashamed. I’m thinking about her brother, son or husband who could have been killed by the police. How is it possible, dear God, that under the circumstances this woman is so kind and loving?

I’m living in my own suffering and she pops my bubble with her love and humanity.

She sees me emotional and tells me, Now is the time to do these things.