Family at home

This is a post about home and family. 

This month my siblings and I sold the house that we grew up in and, a headstone was installed at our parents’ grave. Things have changed. We’ve changed. 

We are in the midst of it all… exhilarating, confusing, motivating, sometimes stupefying.

With (a lot of) practice, I’ve been able to see more clearly and move more freely, to hold tight and let go. The contradictions used to be confusing. Now, I think they’re the extremes that we need to find center. 

In the midst of it all there is humility and confidence. I have been inspired and have learned so much. I’ve been on a family tour for the past few weeks. My teacher always calls these visits “enlightenment checks.” They’re where the big feelings are felt and big lessons learned. It took a few decades and a few thousand miles for me to find the space I needed to hold them. 

Who I was when I lived there, then, and who I am now is different. Yet, in so many ways I am exactly the same. How is it possible that there can be such consistency and so much change? Do you feel this too?  

Life experience, age and expectations, culture, education, profession and all of the dynamics of identity shape us. Space and time are the context within which we live. It takes time to become who we are. Over time it keeps happening. 

It’s hard to believe. 

Things changed. I changed, again. My family has changed too. I have a “yoga mom” and “yoga aunties.” I have friends who feel like siblings and their kids are like nieces and nephews. Scott’s family is mine now too. Home moves with me. It is within me. Safety, comfort, peace, and acceptance (with a fairly good dose of chores and accountability) come with me wherever I go.

Where is home for you? Is it where you grew up or where you live now? Is it a place or a feeling or a person, or all three? If you have, when did you first leave home? Was it by choice? What does the word evoke for you?

I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that “home” contains the sound of “om.” It is the primordial sound… it is the vibration that correlates to the feeling of contentment and connection. 

If you’re ever feeling lost, the yoga sutras contain teachings about how to get the mind and heart back home. The Brahmaviharas: lovingkindness, equanimity, compassion, and friendliness are sometimes described as the keys that get us in the front door. Watch the video below to learn a little more about them. 

Being at home

On this trip I went from home to home. I started in NY, where I was born and where my parents are buried. I spent time with two of my siblings and my nephews and niece there. Then I traveled down the east coast to where family members flowed when they needed space too. I went from Pennsylvania to Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and North Carolina. Stories, photos, meals, WiFi passwords, walks, dogs and cats were shared. A lot of questions went unasked, unanswered. I’m practicing restraint. 

I’m also practicing receptivity. Everyone seems inclined towards generosity. If you look for it, I bet you’ll see it too.

The tricky part is that for this to work, for relationships to work, we have to be willing to let go. We need to share what we value most. For some of us, it’s time and attention. I brought that on my trip and offered it. It wasn’t always needed or wanted. I practiced letting go.

I also needed to make space for what others have to offer. I was offered food, knowledge, camaraderie, space, stories, secrets, tears.

It wasn’t always easy to receive, especially past my usual bedtime! Some of what was offered was unfamiliar and made me uncomfortable. My body responded. I had a few bellyaches and tried to keep a looming headache at bay. It took a night alone to continue on with others with integrity.

It takes resolve, patience, wisdom, and restraint. It takes energy. 

One of the great gifts of these practices is that they are self-sustaining. They generate exponential returns. Time suddenly stands still and you know exactly what to do! 

In retrospect… sometimes. :)

The ebb and flow that is our awareness and experience, our consistency and our dynamic nature, our self and our collective, is the great mystery and gift that is life. 

To know what phase we’re in and what influences we’re under can be an enormous relief, especially when we feel like our choices are limited and our influence weak. To realize how differently I am perceived as an adult, compared to how my same soul was seen as a child or adolescent, has been empowering.

Childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, mid-life, maturity, and elderhood all come with their own demands and challenges, and with their gifts, ease, and insights. To embrace and investigate each will reveal its power. 

Intergenerational relationships can help us to see more clearly: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we might be headed. It’s one of the things that we love best about our Yoga for Mental Health retreats and classes. Parents and children, aunties and uncles practice being present together. Family (native and chosen) gives us access to this wisdom. We just have to be willing to receive it. 

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