They say that home is where the heart is. I say that home is where the heart is directed.
Two weeks ago I listened to a beautiful podcast interview with Congressman John Lewis. The episode was properly named “Love In Action” as the interviewee, Krista Tippett explored John Lewis’s amazing journey of embodying love against all odds. Even after being beaten on Bloody Sunday, experiencing imprisonment time and time again, his commitment to Love is remarkable and inspiring to say the least. He was and continues to be dedicate himself to loving everyone including the people who imprisoned him and the people who beat him. How can someone touch this kind of Light in dark moments like facing death and losing freedom?
When I think of remarkable beings like John Lewis, I’m reminded of a teaching from the late Wayne Dyer who said that we are all like oranges. When we are squeezed, whatever is inside comes out. After listening to John Lewis’s interview it’s clear that the amount of Love he has cultivated in his heart is precisely what comes out when life squeezed him. Time and time again, he dedicated his mind to turning back towards loving others. Seeing this remarkable dedication I wondered, what have I been cultivating? What happens when life squeezes me?
When I’m being mindful, my dedication is to love and joy. But the truth is sometimes I’m unmindful, I forget, and what comes out depends on one single thing...my mindset. (Want to understand mindsets more? Check out my latest piece on Thrive Global.) My state-of-heart depends on what intentions I set for myself that day in my mind. This means that what colors my heart which directs my state of being starts with where my mind is directed. I need to notice have I been tuning my mind into my problems and what’s wrong that day or into the sea of gratitude and what’s ultimately going right. It’s like this, whatever “home” I return to mentally impacts what comes out of me when life squeezes me.
This is where meditation comes in. Meditation teaches us how to anchor our mind on one point and how to let go to return back when our mind has wandered off. When I reflected on John Lewis during my meditation one morning I realized that in the end, meditation teaches us how to return home to ourselves and the power of deciding what home we return to. For example, loving kindness meditations focus on directing the mind towards sending loving kindness to yourself, to others you know, strangers, and all beings everywhere. If the mind wanders off to your to do list during meditation, when you notice that you return to the home of Loving-Kindness and resume again. Gratitude meditations focus your mind on saying thank you for all the blessings in your life. When your mind wanders off you return to the home of Gratitude. And in a meditation focused on the breath, your home becomes accessing the present moment through the presence of your breath.
What happens if you don’t have a physical home to return to at the end of the night? If you had no idea where to go? It’s likely you’d experience a lot of confusion, stress, and a very restless night. If we understand how important it is to have a safe space to return our body to at the end of the night, why do we neglect to create a home for our mind to return to as well?
For this week’s Joy Tip Wednesday I want to invite us to set a mental “Home” to come back to, here’s how:
Set the mental stage. Sit with yourself in silence and imagine a beautiful place. Go with the first place that shows up in your mind and imagine it in detail. Maybe it’s a beautiful beach with turquoise blue waters or a mountainous forest with fragrant pines. Whatever it is, allow your mind to wander and explore this beautiful place in detail.
Get clear on how it feels. Next ask yourself the question, how do I feel in this beautiful place? What feelings does it evoke in me? What words immediately come to your mind? Write these down.
Choose one word to return to. Looking at your list, choose the one word that resonates with you the strongest. The word that you feel most pulled towards. If you are not sure, read each of them out loud and see which word your body reacts positively to the most. Maybe you feel a sensation of warmth, or opening, or softening. Choose this one word.
Make this word your home for one day. For example, let’s say the word you choose is peace, make peace your anchor. You can do this by frequently throughout the day taking 30 seconds to pause and remember the word peace. Take one minute and remember the beautiful place you originally imagined and feel peace. Or ask yourself the question, “what would peace do right now” as if Peace was an actual being.
Notice what has changed. At the end of the day sit with yourself for 5 minutes in reflection and notice how turning your mind to an intentional home impacted your day. How did it make you feel? What shifted in your experience? How did you show up?
Think of this as a fun experiment to create a sacred space in your heart to return to time and time again. This is a place to return to when things are not going right, when things are going right, and everything in between. With repetition, anchoring yourself to a single intention can create more peace of mind. The beauty is that as you create a heart-centered home in your mind this peaceful place becomes easier to access with practice.
Moments of anxiety, stress, and sadness are distress signals from the mind looking for a Home to return to. As your heart-centered space becomes easier to access, you start to feel more at “home” with yourself.
This new sense of “home” can decrease distress signals from the mind and deepen a sense of comfort. With so many people at the international, national, and local levels feeling distressed with current events, imagine what could shift if some of us more often felt at “home” with ourselves? Don’t we all just want to feel home with ourselves and with each other? Let’s try this experiment on for size and see what becomes possible.