On Monday I returned home after a wonderful week immersed in Mindful Self-Compassion with a beautiful group of people in Jackson, Mississippi. We spent 4 days exploring self-compassion, lovingkindness, mindfulness, difficult emotions, challenging relationships, and a host of other really important topics at St James Episcopal Church. We brought our courage, our willingness to be vulnerable, and our tender support of each other. Being in this group felt like coming home to community, to connection and to kindness.
Then, as life does, I was thrown some quite contrasting experiences. I spent two days in and out of airports and hotels through delayed flights, to finally arrive at my physical home 28 hours after originally planned. I got to experience the common humanity of suffering. Many of us waiting in the terminal didn’t have the information we needed to make decisions about our plans, we were tired and uncomfortable, and we were bored from waiting. I managed my time by making connections where I could. Just being with a bunch of people in the same predicament gave that sense of, “I’m not alone” and even, “I have nothing specific to get home to, so I’m probably in a better situation than someone trying to get to a wedding today.” I joked with fellow travelers; we watched CNN together on the big screens; the woman at the snack stand and I got to know each other a bit. I also tended to the frightened little child in me (who hates uncertainty) by connecting with her regularly and asking her what she needed. She answered that she needed to walk, to sometimes lay down, and to eat! Eating is a natural response to stress, so I do treat my little inner girl with treats when she’s afraid.
Coming home keeps us feeling safe. When we can return to a familiar object, person or connection, we feel as if we belong.
The morning after I arrived home, I sat on my little treehouse deck and noticed my surroundings in the way you notice a familiar environment you’ve been away from for a while. I delighted over the colors that were familiar but had not been seen for a week; I watched the squirrels on the lawn as if I was greeting old friends; and my morning coffee felt extra good. I marveled at how good “coming home” feels.
Coming home means different things at different times. Coming home during the MSC program meant being in community doing things that matter deeply to me. Coming home in the airport meant connecting with fellow travelers and tending to little Kristy. Then coming home in the treehouse meant connecting again with familiar creatures and objects in a familiar environment with my favorite rituals.
Coming home keeps us feeling safe. When we can return to a familiar object, person or connection, we feel as if we belong. Coming home to the breath in meditation can be really powerful, as can putting a hand over our heart when we are feeling tense. Coming home by checking in with our frightened parts means that no part of us is left behind – the internal family is intact. What if practice was simply the act of coming home in every moment? It can be.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what coming home as practice means for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect. And if you’d like to have a fellow traveler along with you for the next part of your journey, maybe we can do some work together as part of the Radical Emergent Self-Wisdom mentoring program. If you’re not sure what coming home means for you, we will find it!