“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
— Maya Angelou
A common saying states that “you can never go home again.” The truth of this statement depends, however, on your perspective of where home resides.
In this journey that we call life, early stages of development tend to be outwardly focused: finding one’s place in society, cultivating a career, creating a family, and perhaps acquiring material belongings. The trials and tribulations of this outward path provide for experience that is essential to one’s growth. From this viewpoint, home is considered to be an external place and one tends to seek outside oneself for comfort and answers. And as a person grows and changes, one can never go home again as the same person one used to be; therefore, one can never go home again.
It is not uncommon at some point in life for one’s path to take a turn inward, often when one’s suffering becomes great enough to motivate this reversal: one is finally willing to stop looking outward and to take the courage to look inward. “No longer does ‘being at home’ have to depend on an external requirement. You can live from the inside out – rather than the outside in.”1 This is the recognition that we can tap into the wisdom that is part of us and no longer need to seek outside ourselves for comfort or answers; instead, to be always at home. As Sharon Salzberg suggests:
“Sometimes we take quite a journey – physically or mentally or emotionally – when the very love and happiness we want so much can be found by just sitting down. We spend our lives searching for something we think we don’t have, something that will make us happy. But the key to our deepest happiness lies in changing our vision of where to seek it. As the great Japanese poet and Zen master Hakuin said, ‘Not knowing how near the Truth is, people seek it far away. What a pity! They are like one who, in the midst of water, cries out in thirst so imploringly.’ “2
Just as in the game of baseball, perhaps coming home is one’s true objective throughout life’s journey.
Here is breathing exercise offered by Thich Nhat Hanh to assist you in coming home:
“When you notice your mind wandering, often the judging mind becomes activated – subtly, or not so subtly, reprimanding you for not being in the present. Instead, when you notice your mind has wandered, you can welcome it home to your breath. Welcome home, I missed you! Your breath can serve as your home base. It is always there, no mater where you go. If you are at home with your own breath, you can be at home wherever you go.
Breathing in, arriving (right here, in the present moment)
Breathing out, being at home (wherever you are)
Your breath can provide you with the familiarity, the security that represents home.”1
2. LovingKindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg