Home is where you feel safe, secure and comfortable.
In my last post I briefly discussed how it can be hard to integrate new changes when you are put back in an environment of old habits and way's of living. In the past few years I have had to become quite disciplined in the terms of routine in an ever changing environment. Throughout this chaos, I have learned strategies to keep myself at "home" even when I am not there.
I have said before that in my last job I traveled a lot. I used to be away from home for roughly 4-5 days a week, where I was traveling (on planes) to different cities, staying in varying hotel rooms every single night. Imagine, waking up and not knowing exactly where you are. This became a "norm" for me and for a while I was completely on board and accepting of that. I was able to cope and make the best out of it and to do this I learned how to make a home, wherever I was.
Now for those of you who know a bit about Ayurveda (I will write a post on this in the future), my constitution (my Prakriti - my born purpose in life), is that of the Vata Pitta dual dosha. Perhaps this is your first time hearing these Sanskrit words. Bare with me. This dosha simply means that naturally I have a tendency in my personality to float away, crave adventure. Parallel to that I also have an internal fire within myself that pushes me to keep going. This can be a beautiful combination when managed and balanced but when out of balance leads to a candle being burned at both ends.
My dosha (my personal bio, psycho, social model) has served me well in my sports, academics and occupational pursuits. My drive -- integrated in my mind, body, spirit -- is stubborn (I do not give up easily), intellectual, creative and driven. However, when I am out of balanced I often use the term "floating away," meaning that I feel un-tethered, or unhinged to this moment. I tend to experience this and it leads to exhaustion.. Imbalance is not ideal especially for my type of constitution, that is why I emphasize so much my need to stay balanced.
As much as I love travel, it can easily aggravate my sense of inner balance and peace. However a few practices have made it so that I feel anchored (as much as one can be when they are in transit and/or not at home). A friend of mine once asked what are the top 5 things you always travel with. I have concluded that my yoga mat is the first on the list. I travel with my yoga mat everywhere. No matter where I am in the world I am or how small of space I have to work with, I will roll it out in the morning. Even if its just for a short time, I will dedicate myself to a small (or longer) practice that allows me to feel within myself.
Other things that make me feel at home are my essential oil sticks. We are animals comprised of the same five senses as other animals. Smell is important because it is the only sense that immediately hits the olfactory receptors within our brain. This is why sometimes you can teleport back into memories just by catching a scent of something familiar.
Have you ever been on an elevator and smelled something that brings you back to your grandmothers place where she used to bake you muffins as a kid? Another example is how the smell of chlorine immediately brings me back into my bathing suit, shammy in hand, freezing my ass off as I wait for my turn on the diving board.
Third on my list is Ipad (with airpods) with a good book ready for me to crack into (and Netflix downloads ready for me to watch). Fourth is my lip-balm as my lips get super dry when I travel -- this is a symptom of my dosha being out of balance (more on this in a later post).
The final thing on that list is bringing tea bags. I am a coffee lover through and through, but so are billions of people. There is a coffee culture, among almost all cultures so I don't fear that I wont get my next "fix" or cup of Joe when I travel. Tea on the other hand helps calm me down and feel that sense of "home." I like to have my own on me as I am unsure of what the options will be available once I land.
I share this because I just got back from a trip with my family to Vietnam. We were in Southern Vietnam, it was my little sisters first time being that far away from home in a third world country. Watching them experience this, was an experience in itself. Both of them got very sick while we were there which was unfortunate. Sickness is hard to handle even when you are at home, now imagine being 13 and 15 in a foreign place sicker than you can remember being in a very long time? At moments, they were out of sorts with the unfamiliarity and differences in terrain and culture. I don't blame them, it was very different than what they are used to.
My client yesterday asked me if I practiced yoga while I was on this trip. I responded that I practiced asana and other yogic practices every single day. She was surprised and impressed by my answer as she understands how it can be hard to keep that routine when you are in an environment different than what you are used to. For me though it wasn't a question of routine, it was something I needed for myself in order to feel anchored when in a new unfamiliar place.
I found myself both lucky and grateful to have a practice that serves me so well, even when I am displaced. My sister's did not have the same things to keep them grounded and I feel that it intensified their feelings of unfamiliarity, change and chaos.
Home is both a place and a feeling. It is a comfort and blessing to experience it. This is why so many travelers feel "home sick" when they go abroad or away because they have lost that sense of connection to feeling safe and secure.
I am fortunate to be able to see parts of the world, to go out and explore, in turn it is important that I thrive while I adventure. Practicing my "home" strategies allows me to not feel quite so out of sorts, it provides me with a sense of safety, a sense of routine that reminds me that home is not just a place but a feeling too.
Update: This blog was written a week in advance. As I read through this right now, its amazing how relevant this is to my life right now. I just moved houses this week. As most of you know moving is literally uprooting. Envision how a plant must feel when you have to transplant them into a new pot? Exposed, vulnerable, out of sorts... That has been my last few days. However, this post remains true. As I adjust, which there is an adjustment period, I will keep trying to control the parts of my routine that feel like home to me.