“I believe wherever dreams dwell, the heart calls it home. So may you untangle yourself from the twist of melancholy and let your thoughts carry you back to the birthplace of your truth.”
I think we are all yearning to “go home” these days. It may be a yearning for life as it was a year ago, or to return to your actual birthplace or to be with family that you’re separated from.
When my parents were alive and living in our family home I visited with some frequency. In my youth it was driven by a need to touch base, to find the grounding energy of home and family. I often became really sleepy while there. My mom said it’s because home is where you can fully relax. Of course she was right. There’s a sense of safety in being in familiar territory, surrounded by loved ones that allows you to let down your guard, relax and recharge.
Recently one of my twenty-something kids called me to talk about coping with stress. We talked about things like slow breathing and journaling. I eventually suggested a trip home. It surprised me how quickly this grown child said “yes”! I’ll come home next week for a few days! I could almost immediately sense a change of energy on the other end of the phone line.
My own parents are gone now. We sold the house a few years ago to a young family that reminded us of mom and dad at the beginning of their life’s journey together. But, I still go home in my mind from time to time. I walk through each room, see the floral wallpaper, the kitchen curtains with the pompom fringe and the frayed edges of the carpet. I hear the creak of the stairs, the rumble of the garage door. It’s a journey of healing from loss. Some sadness is present of course, but also love and appreciation.
Coming home is important for everyone, even our beloved pets. Naturally, we have to train our cats and dogs to come home. My neighbors are no doubt accustomed to me calling my cat late in the day by shaking a jar of treats. Cats being cats, sometimes it goes on for a bit, but she is pretty reliable. I don’t have a dog, but I know that dog training also relies on a reward. I call my cat home before dark to keep her safe. Likewise, dog
owners train their dogs to keep them safe. My understanding is that dogs like the security of knowing that the head of the pack is in charge. I’m still negotiating with my cat about who is in charge!
Unfortunately we can’t always physically come home when we want to relax or feel safe. But we can come home to ourselves any time and any place. We can use our breath and our mindfulness practices to return to ourselves by bringing our attention to our heart center and gently bringing our awareness to the emotions that we hold in that space, whether sadness, fear, loss. Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Love: The Art of Mindful connection says “awareness and love are qualities we can rely on moment to moment…They protect us during whatever storms or blow outs we undergo.”
Sharon suggests finding a gentle steady breath as you welcome yourself home and bring to mind an image, person or even a pet that brings you happiness and nurtures a sense of comfort and joy.
Finding a nugget of joy in your mindfulness practice is your treat, your reward for coming home to your own pure heart of love. With practice it gets easier to find your way home so you can return anytime. On a day filled with distractions, distress and disorder, you can stop, take a breath and come home to yourself, fill yourself with the endless supply of love and compassion and find the energy to cope with another day.