When I’m mindless, my home is the first thing I neglect. I define home in a very broad sense–it’s where I spend my time. When I struggled with mental illness, I would spend lots of time in my apartment, and I would spend lots of time wrapped up in my mind. And those were two places I neglected. If I’m busy with work, and doing too many things in too many places, it can become easy to rationalize cutting corners, personally and professionally. I can easily convince myself I don’t have time to cook healthy food for myself, or to skip on getting enough sleep, or to not follow my values when I’m working.
Our homes can quickly fall into disrepair when we’re running around trying to control our fears, or chasing praise, or seeking relief, or coping with fears we don’t like, or any of the other compulsions that sink us deep into struggling with our mental health.
I find that it’s valuable to be able to feel at home anywhere. Finding home in your breath might sound a bit weird at first, but that’s really about being comfortable anywhere, without depending on material supports to provide feelings that you can only find in abundance inside of you. We can feel at home where we are, right now.
There’s incredible freedom and strength in being at home right now. But it’s important to take care of that home and recognize that being at home is a practice. I’ve had to work at bringing more attention to caring for my home, wherever it may be. When I’m traveling for work, I’m at home in whatever hotel room or office I’m in, and I have to understand what that means within that context. And then I have to practice taking care of my home. There’s not much use to understanding that my home is my breath if I don’t take care of the body that’s breathing. If I’m spending all of my time at work but I don’t care about my work, where I’m working, or how I’m working, being at home will become a very stressful experience.
It’s easy to take our homes for granted. They can be physical spaces, our bodies, even relationships that we expect to be there when we’re done reacting to our worries about the past or the future. But our homes won’t be there unless we practice taking care of them.