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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Thay with candle
Thay’s photo on my desk at home

My husband and I arrived home last Sunday from a wonderful drive to VT, MA, NH, NY and NJ to see old friends and family members, one of his dreams in retirement, to spend more quality time with friends. Now the DC area is experiencing an influx of returning vacationers, students, even Congress eventually. The nights are becoming cooler and longer, traffic is heavier. Fall is here a bit early. Travel and “vacating” the body, mind and heart is so necessary and good for us, but coming home is also delicious.

How do we keep the “home” center in our body and spirit while “on the road” whether for work or vacation? Where is our true home? As wonderful as it is to return to our own bed, the space we’ve created to sustain us, our routines and food, how do we sustain ourselves wherever we are?

Thich Nhat Hanh says that our true home is as readily accessible as our next in breath and out breath, taken mindfully, slowly. I can “come home” to my breath anywhere, anytime, without anyone else knowing that I am practicing. I can do it in traffic, when another’s words hurt me, when I feel anger, frustration or fear. I can take a conscious breath, calm my body and emotions, touch my heart, feel my feet on solid ground, air nourishing my lungs, peace returning. In a few seconds, I relax and know that all is well.

One of my good friends calls herself “Turtle Woman” because she carries her home on her back. She is a free spirit who has traveled widely, has had many adventures and friends all her life. She has made many physical homes, but takes her spirit with her wherever she travels.

Some ways I did this on our recent trip: I continued to write first thing every morning, getting up earlier than our hosts, then Qi Gong (although we had to sneak in “snack Qi Gong” at rest stops throughout driving days) and at least 20 minutes of meditation. We took our bell with us, had inspirational reading and music for the car ride, although we also spent time in silence, enjoying the beauty of blue skies, clouds and trees along the highways.

Now that we have returned home, there are many tasks to do, ducts to clean, attic junk to purge, Qi Gong classes to organize, a retreat in two weeks, music performances, “busyness” even in retirement. So it is even more necessary to balance fall “doing” energy with coming home to the place inside that is restful, peaceful, solid.

One of my favorite ways to practice walking meditation is to recite the gatha “I have arrived” (on the left foot), “I am home (right foot), “in the here” (left), “and in the now.” (right). In the present moment, we become aware that our true home is always with us, in our breath, our peace, our deep connection to and love for all people and places on earth.

How are you doing with balancing your fall “doing” energy with your summer “relaxing” energy? Are you at home with yourself? Your body, mind, emotions and heart? Take a moment to check, to rest in the island within yourself.