I have lived in a total of five countries during my life. I left Nicaragua when I was very young during the civil war and moved to Costa Rica. I pretty much grew up in Costa Rica. As an adult, I moved to the United States, and after living there for a few years, I lived in Mexico and Brazil due to my husband’s work assignments. In a way, I like to think of myself as kind of nomad, however in reality, I felt somewhat uprooted.
When I go back to Nicaragua, I am not completely from there, and if I go to Costa Rica I feel the same. Of course I am not Brazilian or Mexican, and even though I have called the U.S. my home for a long time, sometimes I still feel foreign. So, where is my home? Physically, I have found the answer in my family. Spiritually, I see home in the present moment.
Just like many of us, who have wandered from country to country, the mind wanders between past and future. It is like a constant mind-traveling from multiple future scenarios to all kinds of vague memories. It is definitely thrilling and even sometimes educational, but exhausting. On the other hand, the mind visits the present moment in very short occasions, sometimes unintentional during extreme concentration. For example, when we enter the “zone” while listening to music, practicing sports or making art, we usually find ourselves at home, but not for too long. All that wandering, not only leaves us tired but it can also makes us feel anxious and lost.
Due to COVID-19 the majority of us are staying home with our families, and we have re-learned to enjoy the simplicity of staying put. Personally, I love traveling and when I do, I squeeze the time to the limit. Even though I have enjoyed my stay at home this summer, I have to be honest and admit that as soon as everything goes back to normal, we will be traveling again. I always travel with my family, so in a way for me it’s like carrying home with me; everywhere we go, we are already home.
Is it possibe to do the same with the mind? Can we dwell peacefully in the present moment while revisiting the past and imagining the future? The short answer is YES! The long answer is also yes, but it takes practice. I am still learning, like the majority of us. I still lose my sense of home, then regain it momentarily. However, it is possible to be home wherever we are. Meditation and/or conscious breathing can help us dwell in the present moment, experience peace, and rest from the hectic business of our mind. Then we can stay home longer and hope that someday we will carry home with us all the time.
‘Home should be an anchor, a port in a storm, a refuge, a happy place in which to dwell, a place where we are loved and where we can love”.
-Marvin J. Ashton