Walking Each Other Home
“Home is not a place; it is an attitude. It is an attitude which depends upon how much we are able to feel at home with ourselves as well as with others. Home is something that happens to a person; homecoming has less to do with geography than it has to do with a sense of personal integrity or inner wholeness.” *
Last week I hosted a ‘Snuggle Sanctuary.’ The concept was to create a space that people could come and be exactly who they are.
- We share a bit about ourselves in a circle and agree to code of conduct based on mutual consent. We play connection games that allow us to be vulnerable, share what is on our minds and in our hearts, and co-create opportunities to touch and be touched.
- We share food, affirmations, do a guided meditation, mind mapping (a form of vision boarding our desires) or play ‘pass the hug’ – which is like the telephone game, where the originator tries to notice how the hug changed/evolved as it was passed.
- We come together and share tenderness; emotional and physical. We create oxytocin and we share it. One participant was feeling very fragile, having spent the last month working with trauma in an emergency room. They requested being physically held – I was honored to oblige. With my arms wrapped around them, I felt them shudder, and then allow tears to fall. Soon they became calm and began to speak softly. I felt expansive and humbled to feel this reverence happening within me and around me as others shared and cuddled.
As I write this blog post, I heard some sobering statistics: So called ‘Deaths of Despair’ – suicide, drug overdose, and cirrhosis of the liver – are on the rise since 2016. In all 50 states.
These are tragic effects of stress. They are exacerbated by isolation.
“The most important of all endeavors in life is to come home. The most terrifying of fears is loneliness. It means that one has become a stranger to themselves, and subsequently to others. To be lonely is to feel fear, to be forever unsettled, never at rest, in need of more reassurance than life can give.” *
As our culture is constantly fed a relentless stream of traumatic news and imagery, I can understand why we may be tempted to isolate physically, mentally and emotionally. We seek solace in a bottle, or perhaps more commonly, we may seek vital human connection via social media feeds, contacts, and ‘likes.’ While technology allows us to accomplish more, we are far less intimate. We do less eye gazing… less hand-holding… less presence with each other.
When primates – baboons specifically – experience trauma or grief, the surviving members increase their social and grooming behavior. Robin Fiore studied grief in primates and says “Every symptom and aspect of the grieving process that has been described in humans is seen in primates. There cannot be any further doubt: primates grieve.”
It has been proven that those survivors that participate in bonding behaviors recover more quickly than those who isolate, though all primates grieve in their own way.
What grooming and social behaviors can we practice to help create a ‘home of the heart’? How rich our lives would be – how much physically and emotionally healthier we would be – if we practiced cultivating oxytocin (love!) to induce calm, and consequently, lower our stress.
“The Human heart was made to feel at home with itself. It is this aspiration which is at the heart of all yearning. We wish for a home as our first wish, hope for home until our last hope, dream of a home with every dream we form. We cannot bear to be strangers. We can be a pilgrim people for a time, but not forever.” *
I am privileged and blessed to attend many homecomings in our HAI workshops and community. I see HAI Team, Participants and Facilitators ‘Connect in Love’ and create experiences of deep acceptance. I see people sharing their most real feelings, allowing walls of isolation to dissolve. Those listening and witnessing are actively present, not to fix or control, but to hold them in community. This holding is at the root of our humanity. It is in this holding, that home exists.
Ram Dass potently reminds us that we don’t have to go through it alone when he said “We are all just walking each other home.”
As a meditation, I invite you to experience Diana Ross’ rendition of ‘Home’ — from the motion picture “The Wiz”. This performance, right down to her facial expressions — resonates with me in so many ways.
Thank you for reading. My hope is that you create moments of ‘home’ today.
*Adapted From Dawn without Darkness By Anthony Padavano, Paulist Press, 1971
Blog Article by Tony Holmes