When we come home to ourselves, we become aware of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment or resistance. We embrace our experiences with compassion and kindness, offering ourselves the same care and understanding we would extend to a loved one. This practice of self-compassion is an essential aspect of cultivating compassion for others as well.
Coming home to ourselves also means recognizing our interconnectedness with all beings and the world around us. We acknowledge that we are not separate from others but rather part of a larger web of life. This understanding fosters empathy and compassion, motivating us to act with kindness and care towards all beings.
This is so important, this act of returning home because we can live our whole lives estranged in some way from this home within us. My teacher sums up the whole life of his teaching many, many decades with one sentence. I have arrived. I am home. This is my teacher, Tai, or a Kik Nat Han, a Vietnamese Zen master. I have arrived. I am home. That’s what he says. All of his teachings for the 60, 70 years, that’s what it all boils down to. So for him, the principal aim of mindfulness practice is to experience that we have all already arrived here and now. There is nowhere we need to be, to run to, to get to other than right here in the present moment. And we experience ourselves at home, no longer looking for some refuge outside of us in some other place or time.
When we touch the truth that all we long for and search actor is here inside of us. We can experience encountering the spacious and free place of our true home in unexpected moments as we spend more time tuning into what is happening inside us and around us. I’ll share a moment from my own life. This was when I was in Malibu, When I was practicing… So this was an experience I had doing slow walking meditation as a novice nun in Plum Village. I was walking and I became very aware of every step. I began by being aware that as I was stepping with my left foot, I was at the same time stepping with my right foot because my left couldn’t be without my right and vice versa. Then I saw that my arms were also contained in my feet. So I was stepping with my arms and my hands, my stomach, my brain, my sense organs, my heart, my lungs. I was 100% with my body. I was tasting the earth with my feet. I was listening to it. I was looking at it, feeling it, knowing it, smelling it with my feet. My heart was loving it. My lungs were breathing it in and out. Then I turned my attention more towards the earth. And I knew I was also walking on cool streams of water flowing underneath and hot fiery liquid deep below in the center of the earth. I imagined walking on the feet of those directly opposite us on the other side of the planet. The soles of my feet touched the soles of a little baby taking tentative steps and a pregnant woman and an old grandpa. My feet touched the feet of a lonely, isolated person and someone carried away by hatred and anger. I was also walking on the feet of someone who was right then doing walking meditation and enjoying the present moment. I was one of those walking nearer whose hearts were filled with love and peace.
If we’re not aware of what is happening in the moment because we’re caught up in our thoughts or reveries or in the grip of worry or other strong emotions, it’s not a problem It’s as if we have left our home, our house. If we stay away for a long time, dust accumulates and unwanted visitors may take up residence in our home. Things like stress and tension accumulate in our bodies and minds and over time, if we don’t tend to them, they can lead to physical or psychological illness. But the beauty of awareness is that we can always return home to ourselves. Our home is always there waiting for us to come back. There are numerous ways we can go home to ourselves by being aware of our breath, by being aware of body sensations or bodily movements, and by connecting with the reality around us like the sounds in our environment. When we come back home in.
When we come back home in this way, we are able to touch the present moment and experience a sense of peace, clarity, and well-being. We can let go of the worries and concerns that may have been occupying our minds and find a refuge within ourselves. By regularly practicing mindfulness and returning home to the present moment, we cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us.
In summary, the act of returning home, as taught by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, is about recognizing that our true home is within ourselves. Through mindfulness practice, we can experience the present moment fully and find refuge in our own being. By coming back home to ourselves, we can let go of worries, find peace, and cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves and the world.
If we are not aware of what is happening in the present moment because we are caught up in our thoughts or strong emotions, it can lead to accumulating stress and tension in our bodies and minds. It’s important to recognize that we can always return home to ourselves, no matter how long we have been away. Our home is always there, waiting for us to come back. There are various ways we can come home, such as through awareness of our breath, body sensations, or the reality around us. When we come back home, we can take stock of our inner landscape and address any areas that may need support or attention.
This is precisely the moment when we need to return to the present moment, feel our bodies and take good care of ourselves now. Because the future is made of this moment. If we take good care of this moment, even if it’s very difficult, we are taking good care of the future.
It may also be hard to come home if we sense that unresolved pain has accumulated and we don’t want to face it. We may get into the habit of avoiding our home completely, running away from ourselves and consuming so that we don’t have to feel that pain. We don’t want to be with those raw, unprocessed parts of our experience that are painful and may be quite scary.
If this is our situation, it’s important to have compassion for ourselves, for not wanting to return home to face these difficulties inside of us. And yet the only way we can heal them, look through them and make our home a more cozy place is to turn towards these painful places inside of us. There’s a teaching that says the only way out is in or through.
So the practices that we’ll do together in this meditation will help us to begin to have the courage to turn towards these parts of ourselves to go back and put our house in order and with compassion for ourselves so that we can slowly learn to engage in the process of the meditation, so that we can slowly learn to enjoy being back in our true home.
So how do we do this? One of the ways is to stay with what is here and now. If we think of being at a train station, we stay on the platform of the train station, watching the trains of our thoughts and plans and our different emotional states. They can just watch them come and go, rather than jumping onto the thought train that’s headed into the future, or another thought train that takes us into the past.
Those plans, worries, anxieties, they will surely arise in our mind, but we can learn to notice them and take good care of them, rather than getting carried away, rather than identifying ourselves with them. So if we bring our attention to our breath, or to the sensations in our body, that can help us stay on the platform of the now. Just observing what’s flowing in, what’s flowing out.
The past and the future are not the place when we can come home to ourselves and resource ourselves with the elements that we need in order to move through our difficulties. It’s really in the present moment that we can come home to ourselves, right here, right now. So we can spend a lot of our energy trying to predict or control what the future will bring. And this doesn’t usually serve us. In truth, we don’t know what the future will bring. But we just need to be right in this moment.
Because we don’t need to know, right, what the future will bring. We just need to know what’s here, what’s now. And if we touch it deeply with our mind and body united, we’ll find that we have everything we need in order to meet this moment. What we get in trouble is when we think we have to have what we need now to meet some moment in the future. We actually don’t need that. We just need to be able to meet this moment and we have what we need to do that.
So we can’t find what we need to meet tomorrow or a month from now because we can’t know or control the future, but we will find what we need for right now. So let’s do a practice together to help us to come home to ourselves, to have compassion for ourselves and the ways that we may not find it easy to come home. Come home.
Find a position that will support to be fully present, to be at ease in your body. If you’re seated, you can youhave your feet flat on the floor. You could also lie down, you could stand. What we really want to do is connect with our present moment experience, just as it is. So you can have your eyes open or closed. If they’re open, you may want to choose a spot a few feet in front of you to gaze at softly.
So begin by feeling the contact between your body and whatever surface is supporting you. Let yourself rest in this place, returning to this moment, to be here, to the now. Sometimes it can help to take a few deeper breaths, to ground ourselves in this moment. If that’s helpful for you, then allow yourself to breathe in deeply and exhale fully a few times.
Invite whatever parts of yourself that may still be dispersed to come back and settle all under one roof, so to speak. Gathering yourself, recollecting yourself. Allow yourself to settle right here in your body and notice what’s here. There may be tension, there may be relaxation, maybe there’s pain or pleasure or a neutral feeling. As much as you can, bring an attitude of openness to whatever you encounter without judging your experience.
If you’re aware that your mind is distracted and thinking, gently bring it back to your body, to what is right here. Set the intention to come home to yourself, to be present for yourself. You deserve this care, this attention. You are precious and unique. In all the world, there is no one else who brings the precise combination of gifts that you bring.
Allow yourself to arrive here as slowly as you can. This is it! I summon of you the oops, all right in this… home. We may already begin to feel yourself settling into the home inside of you, a place of your strength, wisdom, and clarity, a place that is trustworthy and capable of providing you with refuge in the storm. But if not, continue to stay with awareness of your body sensations, sounds, or breathing. A sense of coming home will develop over time. It may not happen the first time you meditate or the 5th or the 10th or the 20th, but as you become more attuned to yourself, you will find you have been at home all along.
If it’s helpful, you can repeat the meditative exercise inwardly to yourself: “I have arrived, I am home” to help ground yourself in this coming back, this releasing the running and trying to get somewhere else, this accepting that we already are what we want to become. And I think of arriving. I love the image of coming home after a long trip where you can just let your luggage finally release onto the ground. You don’t have to carry it anymore. You have arrived. We’re home. You can let out an exhale. “I have arrived.” Don’t need to carry that heavy baggage anymore. And if it supports you, you can connect these words with your breathing. So you could say “It arrives” as you breathe in and “Home” as you breathe out. “I have arrived” with the in-breath. “I am home” with the out-breath. Arrived. Arrived in the present moment, home in myself, just as I am.
We’ll offer a song as we bring our practice to a close. “Arrived, arrived, at home I am at home, and dwelling in the here, and dwelling in the now. Solid as a mountain, free as the white cloud. The door to no growth and no death. It is open,
free and unshakable. (Bell) (Bell) (Bell) (bell chimes) – Thank you so much for your practice, dear friends, and maybe I’ll walk together in this practice of coming home to our true homes. Coming home to our stability and freedom. Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Kaira Jewel. So I shared a beautiful practice of coming home, coming home to our bodies, coming home to our breath. I thought I would end this practice together by sharing a poem by a New Zealand poet, Jane Pucci. She captures the essence of coming home to the breath. It’s called “My Barn.”
I close my eyes and sigh, And here I am lying in the hammock in my heart, Moving gently with the soft air of my breath. When I fall from my head past my words, I’m caught lovingly by the hammock of my heart, And rocked to its rhythmic beat. It is my peace, my rest, my quiet, Cradled in the hammock of my heart. It is constant. It is safe to be held In the hammock of my heart. No place to go, nothing to do, nobody to please. It is my altar, my blessing, my balm, Here in the hammock of my heart.
So thank you everyone for joining Kyra Jones and the Global Compassion Coalition for this Practice.