Where is Home? Finding Your Center in the Midst of Change
Home has mostly positive connotations for people. It might not be the home that you grew up in but the home that you have created for yourself. Either way, we seek to create a home that gives us a sense of peace, comfort, and familiarity. We like to have something that we can count on. Home is one of those things.
But, if you’ve lived for any length of time, you know that home changes with circumstances– marriages, divorces, deaths, children, pets, natural disasters, physical disease, economic conditions, political situations, geographical location, and so much more. These changes often come with an accompanying discomfort. What will happen next? Who will I be without parents, a spouse or partner, children, or a structure that are a part of what I call my home? How can I find a sense of security? How can I find home again?
I’ve been traveling a lot lately and away from home. Perhaps this is why this reflection is coming up for me right now. When you are in unfamiliar places, it is interesting to see how you try to create something that feels like home. When I was in New York, I got up early to explore the surrounding streets and businesses. Finding the best coffee shop nearby was the first round of business to take care of. (Turns out the best coffee was at my cousin’s apartment!) In Brazil, I found myself in the same room I had the first time I was there; and I walked the same path surrounding the retreat center. These were all simple touch points that grounded me.
But even when you are in your familiar home, life brings challenges that can turn your sanctuary into an unknown country. Change is the only thing we can count on and sometimes it can catch us off guard. When this happens, it is important to consider what you can connect with to help you feel grounded. Connection happens in many different ways. Here are a few to consider:
1. Connect with your surroundings. When you find yourself a little off balance, stop and take a look at the things around you. Look in front of you, behind you and on each side. Take in the colors, the shapes, the sounds. Familiarize yourself so that you can feel comfortable.
2. Connect with an object. It can be useful to have an object that feels grounding to hold or to see in your environment. It could be a rock (that’s my favorite), a soft blanket or pillow, a picture with a saying that makes you feel hopeful or safe, and many more. When you hold or see the object, connect with your heart and breath, and feel the safety or peace that this object brings to you.
3. Connect with a safe place in your body. Often times we focus on the places of our bodies that feel anxious and disconnected, like our heart beating fast, our sweaty palms, or shaking hands. Instead of focusing on the place in the body that represents the fear or anxiety, move your attention to a place that feels safe. The palms of the hands and the soles of the feet have both been my favorites. You can even double up on strategies–hold your object in the palm of your hand and feel your feet grounded in the earth, which is steady and calm.
4. Connect with a loved one. There are people you know that make you feel a sense of home, people who always have your best interest at heart. Developing relationships with this kind of person will really come in handy when you feel the rug getting pulled from under your feet. These are the special people in your life that know how to listen and not just give advice or tell you it’s going to get better. Being with them is a safe space; a place like home. Connect with them. Don’t be alone.
5. Connect with the present moment. Many times what we are feeling is the result of something that happened in the past or might happen in the future—not what’s happening in the present moment. So, a great solution is to acknowledge your feelings and the sensations in the body but then move your attention to this moment. Look around and describe what is actually happening now as well as acknowledge the fact that your thoughts about the past and future are not happening now. Feel your body and breath.
6. Do some yoga. There is really nothing that centers me more than a good yoga practice. I just led a class this morning after being away for a week and only doing yoga once. I felt so centered and grounded in my body that the rest of the day was smooth sailing, even though I had a lot to catch up on. Regular yoga practice is one of the best ways to find home within your own body and then you can find home wherever you are.