Since Lama Rod Owens came to town last month (Save the date he will be back March 27-29, 2020!) I have been teaching the Yoga for Resilience classes through his “7 Homecomings,” which he talked about as a remix of the Three Jewels of Buddhism. He shared he needed more than the Buddha (the teacher), the Dharma (the teachings) and the Sangha (spiritual community) to come home.
What does coming home mean? For me, coming home is coming to a place, either with myself or in the company of others, where I am whole and fully held as I am. Sometimes home is a place of comfort, retreat and rest. Other times home is a place to challenge and grow my edges. Sometimes home is where I go to fall apart, grieve and mourn. Other times home brings me new awareness, insight and capacity to meet what life brings. What does coming home mean to you?
Here are Lama Rod’s Seven Homecomings:
Guides. When thinking of my guides I bring to mind my teachers and mentors who are further along the path than I am. They are my teachers of yoga, racial and social justice, compassion, resilience and liberation. They are my role models who I aspire to be like when I grow up. My guides include Leticia, Rev. angel, Lama Rod, Shelly and Kavitha. My guides bring me home in encouraging my growth and supporting me know the possibility of doing something that feel impossible. They can witness a fuller perspective of myself than I can at times, and I am so grateful.
Texts. Texts can be any media that brings us home. These can be spiritual texts, and can also be social media memes, albums or songs, movies, books, magazines, TV shows, etc. All of my guides are authors, and their books have supported me coming home to myself in countless ways. I also come home to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali every morning before meditation when I read a sutra to ground myself. This morning I read Sutra 2.1, learning and re-learning about the necessity for work, study and surrender to the Divine. One of my other favorite texts is the Golden Girls. The Golden Girls are where I go to when I need comfort and tenderness, two important aspects of home for me. Watching Sophia, Blanche, Rose and Dorothy be home with each other helps me find home within myself.
Community. My guides are part of my community, but they are not the people I am with in my day to day. My community is my family of choice and those relationships I have cultivated where I am moving side by side through the world not so alone. My partner of 15 years and our dog are two of my homecoming rocks. I am so grateful to come home to both of them each day. Fun fact: my partner and my in laws actually built Rainier Beach Yoga and Satmato Yoga Therapy from the ground up. My businesses were literally built by community. I also am grateful for the community of friends and co-conspirators who love me unconditionally, are radically honest with me and who I can be my full messy self with.
Ancestors. Part of whiteness for many white people, me included, is disconnection from ancestors, and this last year I have connected to the grief of this disconnection while also re-connecting to my ancestors with the support of Rain Crowe. My work with Rain as well as a magical letter I was instructed to write by Christina Orbe support me learn how to come home to a part of myself that I have lost in exchange for the benefits of whiteness. This work has also helped me to hold my ancestors in their fullness, not just as oppressors who caused harm. They also instilled compassion, love of reading and education, determination, stubbornness, love of nature and animals, and creativity in me. I am heading to Germany in May, which will be the first time I will be in the land of my ancestors, and I am looking forward to connecting to the land and people there. More on that later, and my ancestors are the newest form of homecoming to me.
Earth. My dad instilled in me a deep love and respect for nature, and nature has become more and more of a homecoming for me. The picture above is a magical moment connecting with a sequoia tree last month. Nature, trees and water in particular, help me connect to a more spacious viewpoint, impermanence, grounding and steadiness. My daily morning walks at Seward Park are one of the ways I come home to nature every day, and I am grateful for this amazing place in the city that brings me home.
Silence. I remember my first silent meditation retreat and how nervous I was about being silent. After 24 hours I was in love with the silence. All the social niceties that take me away from myself fell away. I did not have to entertain people or to talk to make anyone, including myself, comfortable. I could come home to everything that was occurring within myself, which was sometimes terribly uncomfortable, other times boring and other times beautifully magnificent. I now crave silence and look forward to those times I can disconnect from the outside world to reconnect to the inside world. I find this momentary disconnection from the external helps me reengage with the world from a more integrated, whole place.
Myself. How do I welcome myself home? All of these other homecomings help me welcome myself more fully to myself. When I am supported by all of these homecomings I can more easily show up as the whole human I am: messy, beautiful, in process, making mistakes, refining my actions, cranky, present, loving, angry, hopeful, hopeless and everything in between. I can embrace myself fully as the imperfectly perfect human I am with love and kindness.
What helps you come home? Who or what are your homecomings? Movement is another homecoming for myself, and I love that my body will show me how to process experiences that my mind will sometimes not be able to. Maybe some of these homecomings resonate with you, and maybe others do not. Maybe you have other ways you come home to yourself. If so, I’d love to hear!