Home has been something I’ve been considering a lot recently, and it has been the focus of our meditations in class this week. It occurred to me that my actual home, the place that I truly live while on earth is not a building or a “house”. My home is my body. This was a powerful and profound realization, and it has very strong implications. What occurred to me is that if I find home within my body, than I am always home no matter where I go.
From the time we are born till the time we die, people, society, jobs, expectations, responsibilities, etc. are all barking in our ears telling us to ignore our bodies for the schedule. When to eat, when to sleep, when to use the bathroom… and while these are all things that might be necessary to participate in a modern society (particularly to keep a job in a modern society), they train us to stop listening to our bodies.
While we are being trained to follow the schedule, we are also constantly bombarded with images of rewards we can have for following the schedule. Some of these “rewards” are necessary like food, water, and shelter. Relatively speaking, without them we would die. Ironically enough, these are the rewards we often ignore and take most for granted.
Probably because they shouldn’t be rewards, they should be rights. On the other hand, some of these rewards are shiny and have brand names and expensive price tags. These rewards are generally very extrinsic and hold little value outside of what we place on them because of supply and demand. Compare an expensive designer item to a week-long vacation/adventure. The item is simply a status symbol; its value is in the desire for it. The vacation holds memories, stories, shared experiences, and it enriches life. Some rewards have more meaning than others.
All of this training to stop listening to our bodies and to seek external rewards with little intrinsic value leaves many of us feeling empty inside. We are on this constant search to fill this feeling of emptiness, when what we really want and need is to feel like we are home. This is where my yoga practice and my many massages have helped me. Both yoga and massage taught me how to listen to my body again. It isn’t that I don’t still have to get up for work or sometimes hold it till a suitable bathroom time, but I know what my body needs and wants. It tells me when it needs better food or more water. My body indicates when I feel stressed, and I know where my body keeps all that stuff now. Through meditation and learning to feel my body, I have come home to it.
This has been a long journey, and I did not even know that this is how it would become. I began my practice, eating healthy, getting massages, and focusing on my health to try and help combat an anxiety issue I was having. To be honest, I sometimes still feel very anxious, and I don’t feel like I’m home with myself always. I am home more than I have ever been though. Even on those bad days where I doubt myself and the world, where I feel depressed and terrified, even on those days I feel less connected, I’m still more home than I ever was before. On these days, it’s like weathering a very bad storm; it can be frightening and require some preparation, but this home is strong. It will still stand. Yoga continues to grow and evolve with me along my life’s journey, and through its practice I keep building my home stronger. Now, most everywhere I go, I am home in myself. I have learned to look within for home and it has opened my life up to depths of meaning and joyfulness that weren’t experienced before.
My hope is that yoga can help others find home in themselves as well. This is why I teach. When a person is home in himself, he finds a general sense of peace with the world. Even when the storms outside are raging, she who is home with herself is unaffected, like a flame that cannot be extinguished. The practice is not a magic cure all, but it will help you find home.