How to feel your heart's a home...
It is a well known saying "home is where the heart is."
Having travelled much of North America over the last 3 months (and the East coast of Australia prior to that) this remarkable sentence has come up many times.
In this writing I discuss the challenges of connecting to ones heart and ones 'grounded-ness' at times of chaos and change. At the end I present a breath that can help what I call "ground into the ungrounded".
A life of many homes
I have had many 'homes' over the last few months. A night under the bright stars in New Mexico, a week in a friends beautiful basement in Colorado, out on the streets with the homeless and lost souls of Vancouver and a cottage in the mountains of Haleakala Volcano, Hawaii to name a few. Each memorable in their own way but not 'my home'. At least this is what I thought.
Where is my home? This question came up a lot as I travelled. People wanted to know where I was from. I was interested to find myself saying different places depending on who I was speaking to or where I was.
Why did what I say keep changing? Was it to do with who I was with, was I trying to work out what was most impressive or interesting. Or is it true that my home is less exact than a specific place. I decided to tune in.
I'm from London - seemed to come out when I felt I needed to seem chic
I grew up in Hong Kong - came out when I was wanting to feel interesting
I was born in Southampton - though it always feels boring to say Southampton, it is the truth. I was born there and though I do not consider myself from southampton, deep down, I am proud to call hampshire and the new forest my birth place! And everyone knows the place where the titanic sailed from!
A breath to come back to zero
Writing a book about breath I like to give myself an hour each day to sit (or stand) in silence and just breathe. It is an opportunity to connect with the topic of breath and to connect with myself. Given the nature of the topic, it can be confusing to know the difference. Who is "myself" and "what is my breath".
Connecting with them both I noticed it is never the same experience. Sometimes... I feel little connection to either. The moment I open my eyes at the end I always feel refreshed but I could probably have napped and received the same experience. One that passes more like a dream state.
Other times a breath I know, something familiar, comes through. It stirs old memories of when I first learnt 'this' breath, who taught me it or where I was when I first experienced it. Perhaps the smells, excitement or fear of that unknown memory stream through. A smile forms remembering the joy or a tear falls recalling how my heart opened or closed.
At other times a breath begins that surprises me, I don't believe I 'channel' energies from other realms but if I did it would probably feel similar to this. I could stop the process it if I wished but instead I enjoy letting the breath flow and seeing what happens. First the breath... but then perhaps my body begins to move. I observe how the breath takes shape, i'm unsure where it is going, whether it will crescendo or stay stable and repetitive.
My face knots if it becomes uncomfortable.
"WHAT is this THIS?!" is the thought arising at these times.
I trust... but apprehensively. I have experienced myself nauseous for close to a day after similar occasions or a sore neck for a week. I know part of this is my apprehension, gripping and holding me but also because there are some basic body mechanics that are going to take precedence. There are only so many spins I can do before I'm going to get dizzy.
"Oh, no, not this movement again. My body hates this... wait, it is different this time. It feels amazing to let go. Joyful confusion develops where before it was more repulsion."
Change is a constant.
Sometimes my face softens as I can feel the tender touch of a breath I know is going to feel incredible. I try not to 'love' what feels amazing and 'dislike' what pains but sometimes I do. I can leave objectivity to later.
An experience of "home"
I am sure we have all experienced it... that moment we find ourselves in an uncomfortable environment. I first feel it within the energy of a place, or the perception of disturbed energy of the people I'm surrounded by. At each of these times, I always chuckle as topics from past therapy sessions stream through.
How am I not at ease with 'this' or 'that' trait in my own life?
Where am I not at peace with a part of myself?
What am I fearful of and how might I subconsciously be placing myself in unsafe situations.
Quickly, observing in this way, what is uncomfortable becomes interesting or intriguing. I can't say I always enjoy it but it is always fascinating.
Making light of the dark
One such moment opened a huge door for me - a breath came through that has since helped to make the darkest room light. I don't always need it but knowing it is there can be a comfort helping me to find ground in the most ungrounded moments.
It is a breath that helps a heart to feel at home. I share it here as a torch bearing breath, for the those in need of light. It is helpful to regain your own sense of self enabling movement towards something more familiar.
(To practice: it is helpful to find a place you are not going to get moved or have people trying to speak or disturb you) 1. Sitting (or standing), feel the parts of you that are touching the ground. Imagine them getting heavier. Without losing this weight, take a breath in, hold it for 5-10 seconds before letting it out slowly. Your body will be able to feel heavier without the spine collapsing. (Feel free to repeat this process for a few breaths if you would like to).
2. Rub your palms together, fast, generating a heat before putting one (of your choice) on the middle of your chest. Breath into the warmth of your palm experimenting with lengths of breath. Find what is the best duration to inhale and exhale for you, at this moment, before continuing.
3. Become intrigued by the heat under your hand. Is it your hand that is warm or deeper in your body? Let this heat, where ever it is from, begin to get hotter before turning into a shade of deep red.
4. Let this redness and heat expand into the core of your body, gaining strength from your exhale. Every exhalation brings with it a chance for heat and inner strength. From this inner realm, the heat moves downwards towards the floor, sinking a few feet into the ground. As it does so it also begins a journey outwards pressing into the extremities of your skin through to the top of your head. Perhaps just beyond your form, into the surrounding space.
5. Keeping this heat and ball of red heat, without rush, the inhale lets this ball expands. As it does so, begin to take in the room around you.
- How big is it?
- How many people (if any) are there
- Let the layout of the room form in your mind
6. In a moment of your awareness the ball of red heat will find a comfortable size. You will be able to feel the warmth inside of it and the glow of red it casts on the room/world around you.
7. Take 5 slow and deep breaths within this glow, each time allowing a deeper and stronger red heat to form.
8. Let the glow take a new form in your mind representing your
boundaries. The light and heat has the opportunity to fill the room and people around you without giving anything away.
9. In time, it will feel safe to lLt the glow of this ball reduce down to a size that feels most supportive of you. Move your body a little on the inside of this form, like a reed might move in a warm stream.
10. As your movement slows, let the light and heat fade and draw into you, the boundaries of its' glow still present. Take a breath in and then release out, re-feeling the hand that was on your heart.
Open you eyes in your own time. Can you take in the faint boundaries of this glowing orb? What is your sense of this space now? How may it have changed?
This breath is particularly helpful when we are waking up or about to go to bed in an unfamiliar spot.