What does home mean for you?
Is it a building with walls, windows, a roof, a floor, and furniture? Is it a place where you can get shelter from the elements, store your belongings, and retreat after having spent the day facing the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Or is it a place where you and your loved ones find comfort, solace, and have the implicit permission to drop social niceties and finally be yourself?
To many, a home provides more than physical comfort. It is a feeling. A feeling that gives you a sense of ownership and a sense of belonging, both at once. A sense of pride in the space you inhabit – it’s walls and windows an expression of your personality, your preferences, and choices. How it is laid out, how it is decorated, and how it looks at any point in time is your active choice.
It is a place where you feel a sense of acceptance for who you are. No judgment and no criticism, just wholesome acceptance.
“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.’ – George A. Moore
And yet for so many people, for various reasons, a home, in this deeper sense, is not available. Some are homeless and others live in such constricting sharing arrangements that, there is no privacy and not even a corner to call your own.
This is a huge psychological barrier. An unhealthy living condition, or worse still no place to call home, physically conveys to you that your ideas, your thoughts, and your opinions have no space and therefore You have no importance. No opportunity for introspection means no self-expression. And no self-expression meant a daily, constant and relentless diminution of the Self.
Therefore a home of one’s own is not just a physical need but also an emotional and a spiritual need.
‘The ache for home lives in all of us.’-Maya Angelou
A home or part of a home, such as a room, a garden, a studio, a terrace, a balcony, or any other space that is exclusively for your use is vital. It is vital so you can repose in yourself – be with your own thoughts and feelings, do the things that appeal to you in the moment and allow yourself space for self-expression. It is a space where all sounds are subdued so that the music in your heart can be heard, all outside voices are quietened so your inner voice can surface.
How, then, can you overcome these challenges and still claim that feeling of being ‘at home’ that is your birth-right? Here are some thoughts:
Recapture that feeling
Remember we said, a home is a feeling? A feeling that stems from being in a certain space but a feeling, nonetheless. When you are away from home, for whatever reason, try to recollect all elements of the experience of being at home. The smells, the sounds, the colors, and the aura.
So how do you recapture it? Sometimes playing a favorite song, eating a favorite meal, reading a favorite book, or playing a game that you enjoyed in your home, can all help recreate that feeling of being ‘at home’.
If you can’t be at home, bring your home with you. A couple of familiar objects, a favorite book, a vase of flowers from your garden, a candle that smells just like the one you have at home will go a long way to let you feel at home, even if you are at work or at some other place that you have to temporarily call home. It may be a hotel when traveling or someone else’s home when you are temporarily staying with a friend or family member.
For example, when I travel, I keep a few things with me that allow me to maintain my routine and stay tuned to my sense of home, even though I am away from home –
- special spice mix for my morning lemon tea,
- a yoga mat so I can do some stretches each morning,
- the book I am currently reading,
- my journal so I can jot down my ideas and thoughts or even write a rambling post if I need to vent my emotions,
- my eye mask so I have a shot at a good night’s sleep even if my hotel room has bright lights
A big part of the feeling of being at home is the people that inhabit it with you – your friends, loved ones, or pets. If you travel a lot, it might be a good idea to carve out some time to call people you care about, stay in touch, and share bits of information about your everyday lives. In connecting with your favorite people, you connect with that feeling that you call home.
If you are one of the unfortunate people who had a home they loved and lost it, allow yourself to fully grieve your loss. There are no short cuts to healing and you have to begin by confronting your grief, facing the sense of loss, and acknowledging that the phase of your life when you lived that home is gone, perhaps forever. You will go on to live your life and build another home but this particular phase of your life is over and the sooner we accept this loss, the sooner we can begin our journey of healing.
I know it may sound ridiculous to someone who has just lost their home. However, if you think about it, your belongings are all gone, but you are still here. You are the one who built that first home and you will have a chance to build yourself another home. All those feelings of comfort, joy, and security, really did emanate from your being. And you will be able to recreate them in your new home. Your new home may not have all the familiar and loved objects that were in the home you lost, but you will again build an environment of comfort and safety that you can call ‘home’. It may be difficult but not impossible.
“It’s not about finding a home so much as finding yourself.” – Jason Behr