Most mornings, I wake to the sound of my alarm jingling in the background, sounding the start of a new day. A new day filled with potential and expected movement. Movement of mind. Movement of body. Movement of time. Inherent within all the movement is change. Swirling about me, I can feel the sweeping currents of transition. Twisting and stretching my body, I transition from a sleeping state to a waking state. Planting my feet into the soft carpet, I transition from a horizontal shape to one of vertical proportions. Transition after transition, my mind is usually two or three steps ahead of my body unless anchored in a soft degree of awareness. Recent mornings have involved an investigation of what it means to move from center, as I take a seat and sink into my meditation.
Bringing my attention to my breath, feeling it move throughout the landscape of my body, thoughts materialize from the deep void of possibility. What does it mean to move from center? Where is center? What does center feel like? Does center have an isolated location, or does it migrate moment to moment, experience to experience, and day to day? These are the questions buoying about in the sea of my mind. These questions are of particular interest due to the sequence of events in my life, and their jarring unfoldment and demand for my undivided attention. For several months now, the place where I lay my head has not been consistent. It would seem, at every turn I am met with the unshakable test of rediscovering Self through the inability to root into a physical location. I’m left to redefine the ultimate of center: home!
Home is often considered a grounding space where we can gather ourselves, reboot, root and rest. However, these past several months have greatly challenged my preconceived idea of what home means to me. More than ever, I have heard the resounding echo of the wisdom traditions and the concept that home is no singular external place, but a space deep within Self. A place we have infinite access to, no matter where we might be physically. We have come to speak of home in the West as the place where the heart is. If there is truth to this metaphor, then I am left to ask one particular question: Can you be so at home within yourself that, no matter where you are, you’re always home? No matter what possessions you have or do not have. No matter which relationships you hold. Regardless of your geographic location, are you at home within your own heart?
Make no mistake, this is a monumental question leading to a deeply challenging practice. Confronting social and cultural ideologies that have been absorbed and internalized since childhood, redefining home in many ways means redefining center. If home is our central point from which we begin engaging the rest of the world, how might our lives be changed if center were no longer a tangible place outside of us? How might we live our lives if center were an intangible place existing within the deepest stretches of Self?
In this very moment of reflection and writing, I cannot help but think of E.E. Cummings’ poem I Carry Your Heart with Me, from which he invokes the grand majesty and mystery of life. A poem gesturing us toward a recognition of the inter-connectivity within all of the cosmos. That his heart carries within its pulse and beat the heart of his beloved, highlights our innate capacity as feeling-based beings to house our lives within the energetic vibrations of our soul. “Soul” being the very spark of life that each of us has been blessed with. A spark that holds within it an awareness of our existence, allowing us the opportunity to create individuated worlds, of both the inner and outer kind. And, it is from our inner worlds that we can begin to redefine what it means to be home. We can begin to sense center as fluid and emergent, rather than isolated and static.
Responding to life’s unexpected twists and turns from the very center of Self, we are reminded of our own resiliency and creativity. Artists of the most magnificent kind, we are capable of both devastation and generation. At any time, we can reshape and restructure our lives through the beliefs we hold, the relationships we share, and the moments we choose to embrace rather than resist the inevitable currents of change. Home, after all, is an embodied concept that over time becomes codified, and representative of a place we can turn to in moments of need. Whether it be rest, safety, or the ability to ground, home becomes the center of our world.
From this sensing and questioning, my daily practice involves rooting so firmly into myself that at any moment, no matter where I am or who I’m with, I am home. I am home when walking through the woods. I’m at home when scaling a mountain. I’m at home when out with friends. I’m at home when riding my bike. I’m at home when life throws me a curve ball. At any moment, the question lending itself as a point of engagement for my practice is “Where is my center?” From this question rises the inevitable follow-up: “Am I at home in my Self?” So I ask you, where’s your center today?