Self-isolation. Lockdown. Quarantine. Social distancing. The buzzwords of 2020 symbolise forced separation in a world so connected yet so far apart. Seeing loved ones is no longer a given, physical touch is restricted, and many are unable to visit the people they care for the most.
Berlin is in the middle of a second lockdown. I’ve lived here for five years, and it’s been nine years since I left Bristol, my place of birth. I recently reached a tipping point and realised the number of people I’m close to in proximity is fairly small.
This is partly due to corona, partly my tendency for solitude, and Berlin’s tendency as a city of transition. Many people move here, drink it all in, and leave. In the past 18 months, I’ve said goodbye to two close friends who moved here at the same time as me. Many people I’ve got to know since moving here have moved on.
Living in another country has its challenges. Many dear friends live in the UK, not to mention my family. In short, I’m used to missing people. And I sometimes worry my spiritual path may result in losing people I love. This is a concern I’ve contemplated, deeply, and in response, a voice of wisdom illuminated a fundamental truth: emotional bonds are never broken.
So if you’re feeling distant or alone, here’s why you’re never really separate from those you love.
Mizpah And Emotional Bonds
Mizpah, Hebrew for watchtower, is a sentimental word in my family’s history. When my nan and grandad were separated during World War II, they found solace in Mizpah. The term originates from the Book of Genesis. Jacob, having fled his home with his wife and children, was tracked down by his father-in-law, Laban.
Realising his son-in-law had left with his wife voluntarily, Laban allowed Jacob to leave. To signify a promise between the two, they erected a pile of stones (the watchtower) which acted as a symbol of their agreement and a boundary they agreed to never cross.
Only the pair were present in making the agreement, so they agreed that God was the witness between them. Mizpah has evolved to signify the emotional bond between people who are separated. My mum has the phrase, along with our family’s initials, engraved on jewellery.
Mizpah jewellery was popular in the Victorian era, before a resurgence of interest during World War I. Exchanged between lovers or friends who knew they’d be separated, pieces were engraved with the phrase: “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”
I think of my grandparents, in the middle of war and uncertainty, separated and afraid, doing their best. I think about how they both looked at the stars when they felt lonely, and remembered their common connection, that they were together, despite being alone.
I think about how there’s more to Mizpah than meets the eye.
Subtle Communication Of The Heart And Soul
We’re used to perceiving with physical senses — sight, smell, touch. Tap into our greater wisdom, our intuitive senses, and it becomes evident there are more dimensions to be perceived. One such perception is the emotional connection between family, friends, and loved ones. It is beyond proximity, space, or time.
The presence of a loved one is felt by the heart. In that space, we access Mizpah, the emotional bonds that are never broken. I’ve experienced this repeatedly in meditation. Seemingly alone, I’ve connected to this source and felt close to people I love, matched by a familiar presence, images, emotions, as if being acknowledged on a different plane.
I’ve come to understand if someone is on my mind, I’m probably on their mind, too
Often this form of connection happens unconsciously. Someone surfaces in my consciousness — random thoughts, dreams, or reminders through shared memories — then not long after, they get in contact. Or I might contact someone who has been on my mind. “That’s funny,” comes the reply, “I was thinking about you recently.”
I’ve come to understand if someone is on my mind, I’m probably on their mind, too. During times of lockdown and self-isolation and travel restrictions, this mystical manifestation of Mizpah, this seemingly impossible dialogue across the cosmos, offers reassurance that you’re never really alone.
If we perceive with limited senses we limit communication and never nurture our psychic skills. We look to new technology — WhatsApp, Zoom, email, Facebook — to stay connected. We don’t realise hearts and souls communicate in ways the mind struggles to comprehend.
This ancient human technology is far more advanced than anything man-made, allowing us to whisper across all terrains, to reach out, to send an acknowledgement, a moment of lovingkindness, through the cosmos.
Mizpah, the unbroken emotional bonds across distance, are sensed. It’s intuitive to feel that we’re never fully disconnected from people who have had an impact on our lives. Close your eyes, bring to mind someone you love. What happens?
You’re never really alone.
The Quantum Poetry Of Mizpah
“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.”Niels Bohr, nobel prize winning PHYSICIST
The ego sees itself as separate from the rest of creation. Viewing cosmic communication or the experience of Mizpah through this lens seems inconceivable, irrational. Yet the very nature of existence is inconceivable and that doesn’t make it any less real — just look at quantum mechanics.
There’s a beautiful relationship between Mizpah and quantum theory. Mizpah can be likened to quantum entanglement, the unbroken bonds between particles. Once two particles interact, they behave as if connected, even when they move apart. When the state of one particle changes, there’s an immediate change in the other.
This is also referred to as non-locality because these changes are not linked to proximity — the particles could be opposite ends of the universe and the results would be the same. This defies all rational understanding, yet confirms intuitive knowing about certain deeper levels of existence.
In The Science Delusion, Rupert Sheldrake notes how telepathy is equally not distant-dependent, comparing entanglement with psychic experiences. Curiously, his research into extra-sensory perception (ESP) discovered that emotional closeness is more important than physical proximity when it comes to the accuracy of telepathy.
If two single particles can share a bond that remains undeterred by the vastness of the universe, imagine the bond between human hearts, and how simple it is to remain connected across this little planet we call Earth.
When You Feel Alone, Look Up At The Stars
I used to struggle a great deal with missing people. And while these times are challenging, I feel a deeper connection with those I love. I miss people, of course, but I find reassurance in Mizpah, the emotional bonds that are never broken. It soothes me to view all meaningful relationships as eloquent forms of quantum entanglement.
When I close my eyes in meditation, and I transcend physical distance, I’m joined by those I love in the space where those bonds live, energised across distance, non-local companionship, all moments not lost, but living, within me, within my heart, dancing across time.
And this applies just as much to temporary, corona-related separation as it does to lost connections with people who have impacted your life in any way, shape or form. Behind the surface, those you love are never far away, those you miss are never lost, and isolation is an illusion.
There will come a time where we can travel again, socially integrate, meet-up and hug without second-guessing. Until then, the next time you feel alone, or miss someone you love, look up at the stars or close your eyes, and remember Mizpah, the emotional bonds unbroken by space and time.