When I was 32 weeks pregnant with my 5th baby, I was admitted to the hospital and put on bed rest because I had started to show signs of premature labor.
It was December 14th.
I had 4 young, magical, wide eyed children at home and I was missing Christmas. I was missing the gingerbread houses, the piano recitals, the school programs. And I was crushed.
Fifteen years later, I'm going to admit to doing something that only a few people know about. My husband and I colluded in a secret plan called "coming home for Christmas". We arranged to start going for early morning walks, where he would push me in my wheelchair and we would just walk around the hospital and talk. On Christmas Morning, that early morning walk included a quick trip home to see my kids on Christmas morning.
I remember clearly the feeling of walking into my home after being away for 2 weeks. I just stood there and soaked it in. It felt familiar, safe, comforting. There was a real sensation to "coming home".
We live in a time where we could all benefit from "coming home".
I love the biblical account of the Prodigal Son, who "came to himself" after being away from home in "riotous living" he decided to return home. Before making that humble and earnest trek back home, there was a most important "coming home" to himself that he had to do.
This type of "coming home" is often harder than the physical action of walking across a threshold. It's the heart and mind reconciling itself to it's true nature. Sometimes that is a humbling experience and sometimes that is an expansive experience.
Three tips to help us "come home to ourselves"
Be intentional with your self care. Self care isn't so much about spa days or special diets, it's about living a life that you respect. Showing up for yourself on a daily basis, and avoiding the systematic approach of scheduling your self care. What does your body need in this very moment? Do you need to drink more water? Do you need more rest? What does your mind feel like right now and how can you help support your best thinking and feeling in this moment? Learning to listen to our body is something that happens moment by moment, not week by week or month to month.
Release Self Condemnation
Come home without self condemnation. In the space of mindfulness we release the tendency to judge our past of future selves. Allow yourself the grace to observe your actions without the need to say "good or bad". You can practice being open to possibilities and may find some surprising discoveries.
Come home with willingness. There was no guarantee that the Prodigal Son was going to be received back home with open arms, and yet he went anyways. He was willing to feel and deal with whatever came up for him in the experience. Letting go of the scripts and expectations we have in our heads is no small thing. Practicing mindfulness allows us the opportunity to look with fresh eyes on our experience.
THE MORNING WALK
One simple mindfulness exercise I like to do is called "The Morning Walk". It's a practice that Byron Katie teaches. Go for a walk, maybe just 10 minutes. During your walk you practice the beginners mind. You imagine that you have never walked this path before, never seen this tree or that pond, or that color of green. You've never seen the way the sun pours over the landscape like that. You've never heard the wind like that as it moves through the tall grasses or leaves.
As you practice this newness, allow your mind to open up, to experience it afresh, to take in new data. Come home to the present moment in this freshness. Practice observation and not judgment. Practice opening up to what might feel nourishing to you in this experience. Be willing to feel whatever comes up for you, disappointment, fear of the unknown, smallness, awe, joy, gratitude. There is no right or wrong. There is no magic formula you are trying to follow in order to get a certain result.
And that is very freeing. What do you learn about your true nature when you feel more free?
As we practice "coming home" to ourselves, we begin to feel a sense of familiarity, a feeling of comfort, of friendship, and deep knowing. There is a safety in this knowing.
Let's practice this week. What does the sensation of "coming home to yourself" feel like?
Light and Warmth to all of you!
Certified Meditation Facilitator