Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Home is where the Heart is

I spent this past weekend at EarthDance in Plainfield, Massachusetts at a gathering called ::WEAVE::

Here, a beautiful tapestry of artists, herbalists, dancers, healers, visionaries, yogis, permaculturists, activists, movers, and shakers emerged, woven together as a unique, never-before-seen expression of Earth re-membering herself, ourself back into wholeness.

All weekend, whether I was tumbling and flying on the sun-drenched lawn re-learning the art of play, sitting quietly in the forest listening to the wisdom speech of Wild Ginger or Japanese Knotweed, sharing sweet and soulful connection with new friends over nourishing meals, teaching early morning Plant Spirit Yoga, or diving deep into midnight trance-inducing beats, there was a profound and delicious sense of being “at home.”

Even though I had only known a handful of folks at the beginning of the weekend, by Sunday I felt as though I was with family.  I felt powerfully nourished, supported, seen, and held, not just by the circle of people, but also by the plants, rocks, waters, and creatures of the land there.

The Greek root eco means “home.”  The work (and play) of re-weaving ourselves into our “eco-system” elicits a strong feeling of home-coming.  Through conscious and intentional connection with our community (human and otherwise), we can literally re-member who we are, why we are here, and what we have to offer.

The Sanskrit word kula means “family,” or more specifically, “community of the Heart.”  It usually refers to a group of people on the same spiritual path.  Interestingly, it is often engagement with our kula that deepens our experience of being at home within ourselves.  Through remembering and celebrating our woven-ness, through seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard, touching and being touched, we realize the reciprocity, the mutual exchange, the dance that is life, that is us.


This dance exists in each one of us, in every leaf, in every drop of water, in every soil microbe, and cell.  And together it is one magnificent dance of which we are all part.  In yoga we call this the tantra, the weaving or web of consciousness and bliss that connects us all completely, without exception.

Arriving back in Vermont to our sweet hand-made house, to the over-flowing garden, to familiar birdsong, and the sound of our own tea kettle evoked another sense of home-coming.  And so did sitting in meditation at my altar, and so did stretching into the first downward dog of the day.

So, what does it mean to “be at home” in oneself, in ones’ body, in ones’ group of friends or family?  What does it mean to be at home the world?  Though I’m sure each person feels “at home” in different settings (in the woods, in a kitchen, with family, with animals, on a yoga mat, etc.), I think that perhaps the actual sensation of feeling “at home” is the same for us all.  We take different paths to get there, but once we arrive, it is in the same place. 

For to me, these experiences of feeling at home, whether in a community of kindred spirits, quiet in the forest, alone in meditation, or literally in ones’ own house, are all doorways into the Heart, that sacred sanctuary where we can most deeply experience our connection to all that is.  This sanctuary is at the core (core as in coraz√≥n, coronary, or even courage) of our essential nature, of who we truly are.  There are infinite paths to reach this luminous center and some people’s ways may look very different than yours.  But that in-dwelling light in the center is the same in everyone, everywhere.

In Anusara Yoga®, the First Principle is called “Open to Grace.”  This is an invitation to drop into this sacred space of the Heart.  Whether you are in a group of people, in the midst of a difficult conversation, or in a yoga pose, “Open to Grace” is always available.  It is the remembrance that you are always at home, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, and whatever is happening around or within you.  This hearth of your heart, housed within the house of your body, holds a divine flame that cannot be extinguished by anyone or anything. 

However, when we surround ourselves with kindred spirits (kin as in kindle, or spark!), when we engage in activities that help us fully inhabit the body house (yoga, dance, play, and a million other yummy things), and when we take time to connect with nature, to listen, to be present, then, I believe, this flame is kindled even brighter.  It calls us in, just the way a lantern in the window on a dark night would.

The more time we spend basking in this light, the more presence, the more strength, the more love we have to offer the world.  Therefore, when we find ourselves in situations that are challenging, unfamiliar, or difficult, we can be a beacon of light and hope, inspiring and en-couraging (heartening) others.

As I write this there are over 700 families and individuals in Vermont who recently lost their homes to Tropical Storm Irene.  Many farmers not only lost their entire crops, but also their land. I have been amazed and inspired by the outpouring of assistance and support for these people: a true testament to the power of community and interconnection. 

When we are faced with difficulty, with challenges, with discomfort, how can we remember that “Open to Grace,” is just a breath away?  It seems to me that the more often we remember to kindle that flame in the hearth of our hearts, the stronger it is when we most need it.  That powerful and healing light is something we can cultivate, grow, and offer in service to others.  This is what I see shining through all over Vermont as neighbors pitch in to help each other.  Truly, “Home is where the Heart is.”

Can you think of a time, a place, or a situation in which you felt powerfully “at home?”  What did it feel like?  Do you have this sensation often, or only rarely?  What are the ways you feel most “at home” in your body, in nature, with others, and alone?  How can you make time and space to do more of this?

Take a breath in.  Feel the cool air enter your body.  As you exhale, feel how the air is slightly warmed, like one who has come in from the cold, sat near a warm hearth, been fed some nourishing food, and gone back out again into the world, heartened, encouraged.

May you find yourself, more and more, at home in your body, in your community, and in your eco-system.  May you remember, more and more, that you are connected to all that is by a shimmering tantra, an unbreakable web of consciousness.  And may the light of your heart kindle ever brighter as you find more and more ways to be of service in this world with courage, and with love.

I honor and celebrate the divine light within your Heart. 

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