“As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The home within myself is as safe as my childhood bedroom, as sacred as my grandmother’s voice and as firm as my block on Herkimer Street.
The dim light from my desk lamp and the lavender scent arising from my newest candle transformed my bedroom into a sanctuary. My body was in a natural chair pose with relaxed shoulders and mindful breathing. There was no yoga teacher coaching me into a deep state of relaxation but it didn’t matter; I was relaxed when I sat down to complete one of my first therapy “assignments.” My journal was just a few pages old and the last entry was written more than five months prior to this moment. I had a pattern of bombarding the pages of a marble notebook after a break-up and then hiding it in a place where I only picked it up again to read the entries that reassured me of how far I have come in my healing. This time I picked up my journal and it was different. I wasn’t going through a break up. I was simply sitting down to write a journal entry in response to a very simple question: “What activities do you enjoy doing? What makes you who you are?” I knew what I liked to do but I realized as I sat down to write that I loved to write but had not done it for months. I loved to do yoga but I had not consistently invested in an exercise routine. I loved to dance but I only danced when I was drunk.
Answering that simple question (What do you enjoy doing and what makes you who you are?) was a vital step in finding a home within myself and becoming the best and most beautiful version of me. This is a forever work in progress. This simple question and the answers I wrote down in my journal set me up to rediscover my strengths, my passions and myself at a time where I hardly recognized myself. I had lost myself. In my case, I completely lost myself in my career as a teacher. I was living my life with the goal of surviving rather than thriving. I was getting through the day as best as I could without mindfulness and intentionality. I was unbalanced, often not giving myself or my loved ones quality time because I was too busy working and feeling stressed.
For some it’s stepping into parenthood for the first time, a new relationship, a new job or responsibility that causes them to disconnect from themselves. I have had friends who are new parents tell me that they no longer feel like themselves. I have watched some friends disengage from friendships or activities they once loved after falling in love. I have also seen people in my life commit wholeheartedly to their jobs to the point where they are spending Saturdays and Sundays working rather than going to the work out class they once wouldn’t miss.
I am not judging anybody for this because obviously parents love their babies and babies are demanding. People love their significant others and balancing relationship, friendships, work and life isn’t easy. And finally, jobs are competitive and it’s so incredibly important want to do an exceptional job. My goal is not to judge you. It’s actually to say…I get you. We all have different lived experiences. For some of us reengaging in activities we love demands time or money and that is not an easily fixable thing. What I do know is that rediscovering what makes us who we are and continuing to explore ourselves takes practice and practice doesn’t happen without trying or entertaining it. You don’t need money to sit down and think about it and reflect on it and I believe that you have the power to prioritize ten minutes for yourself to think about it.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are saying to yourself any of the following statements, I want you to stop and give yourself ten minutes to think about it, reflect on it, maybe write about it and then decided if it’s something you want to change.
- I don’t even recognize myself anymore
- I don’t know who I am
- I don’t even remember the last time I (insert that activity you love)
- I don’t even remember the last time I saw (insert that person you love)
Like Thich Naht Hanh expressed in his book “How to Love,” building a home within ourselves is what makes us the most beautiful- and I don’t mean physically. In a society that demands so much of us, being in touch with ourselves needs to be intentional and mindful. I believe that taking a moment to reflect on what you makes you who are is the first step in reconnecting with yourself and building the most sacred home within you…the kind of home that stands tall despite the huff and the puff of your live’s version of the big bad wolf.