Lately I've been sitting by the hearthside of the word inhabit. It's a warming coal that resides in the middle of my chest, the tingling feeling in my feet when they are being friendly with the rocks underneath them, a relaxed contentment when I drop out of my head - letting thought cease and true wisdom arise. Sometimes this wisdom floats up from the infinite space deep in my belly, othertimes it occurs inbetween myself and another being...a robust curly dock plant encountered on a walk, the coyotes crooning at 9pm or the fuzzy hum in the long gaze between my partner's eyes and mine.
I love being connected to my heart in this way, and if what I've described is a place, it's also home and I don't ever want to leave. Yet I do leave, habitually. I'm fortunate to be in good company. We disconnect from ourselves and our be-here-now experience as typical M.O.. If you practice meditation, yoga, somatic experiencing, mindfulness, you are well aware of how often you catapult away from yourself. Like holding a grasshopper in your hand, and the moment when you feel that powerful spring action against your palm and the insect is gone...this is the same instantaneous movement the mind can make. We leap up from the hearthside into thought, scheming, wanting, lacking, striving etc. Making mindfulness a priority helps. I'll catch that leap a few minutes (hours, days) after it happens and return back home.
But there are other times when we leave not just from discursive thinking, but because we are swept away. Old wounds are triggered, powerful desire switches on or trauma floods our system. What we most often reach for then is not the meditation cushion, the long walk or the yoga mat. We reach for comfort...the alchohol or chocolate, the netflix binge, the retail therapy. And hey...I like my red wine and episodes of Danish television...but I'm also aware that I am flipping the bird to whatever happened that day and taking a vacation from myself. Sometimes it becomes a staycation and I stray so very far from home.
I have had this on again/off again relationship with my heart for...well...since I was about 5. Thus is the human condition. Truly its so ordinary its banal. For years I didn't even understand the mechanics of the leaving and returning, didn't even know it wasn't due to external circumstances. Spiritual development, nature connection, finding Buddhism in my late 20s, gaining my MA in psychology...all these things have led to more well being, better relationships, general life stability. But still the leap away has been the norm...something to struggle and strive with, work on, requiring effort. So at a certain point, I decided to stop trying and just remember instead. (Or as Yoda says, No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.)
For years my tag line has been "Come home to your wild heart", but I've never really elaborated on what I mean by it. We all tend to live in the realm of thoughts, cities in the clouds, castles in the sky. For many, this is all reality consists of. At the worst, emotions and physical sensations are thought of as problems and distractions, things to eradicate and overcome. Not to make hyperbolic leaps of quasi-science BUT... I don't think it's a coincidence that heart disease is the number one killer in the US and we are...as a nation and people...by and large disconnected from our hearts.
Coming home to our wild heart means coming into contact with all that resides there. The natural state of the heart is one of open spaciousness, but within all that are many things we have aversion to...grief, loss, anger, fear and shame. When we first begin to allow for our experience, there may be a backlog of pain to deal with (woo hoo, sign me up!). For those of us who have trauma, sometimes the backlog is on repeat, and the work becomes about allowing for it again and again, until our system finds resilience. It's not for the faint hearted, and the search for relief is so understandable and often necessary. Eventually however, the wild terrain of the heart becomes less fraught and foreign and instead becomes the Eden we have been searching for all along. Like returning to the wilderness after too long in Suburbia or that moment when, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy steps out of the sepia tones of her tornado tossed house into a beautiful fairy land. There is enlivenment and a sense of finally having arrived. Of coming home.
Inhabit. It's a reminder to myself that it's all right here. I am right here. I'm not on Google, or Instagram or Facebook or Netflix or at the bottom of a pint glass or in the grocery aisle. I might be in a book or in an art project. I could be in the garden or a new herbalism class or even at the end of this post. But I don't have to be doing. I can just be. I can just be home.
How about you? Do you ever trick yourself into thinking that you are being present and then realize that you've been disconnected for too long? Do you have a hearthside of your own that you are cozying up to, with your own special word? Does any of this bring you home to yourself? Tell me.