Returning Home to Your True Self: A How-To Guide
Many of us are experiencing a profound sense of disconnection. We feel disconnected from our true essence, our core, our higher self. This lack of connection can come from many sources—like distracting ourselves with sex/drugs/alcohol, the busy-ness that comes with raising a family, feeling stuck in a dead-end job, or staying in an unsatisfying relationship. Whatever the source, the outcome is always the same: we feel lost, out of touch, short on substance. Like a hamster in a wheel, we go through the daily routines of our lives, while something deep inside longs for more. We sense that we have a purpose—we can almost touch it right in front of us—but it remains elusive, just out of reach.
I’ve experienced this sense of disconnection many times in my life, sometimes on a daily basis. The good news is that no matter how far we’ve strayed from our deeper self, we can always return home. The even better news is that we don’t have to go on a ten-day silent meditation retreat or move to an ashram in India to do it.
Surrounding ourselves with people who nurture and bring out the beauty of our depth is one way to reconnect. But who you hang out with is less important than making a personal commitment to carve out regular chunks of time to spend with your true self.
We’re all busy. I get it. We have spouses, families, jobs, and a myriad of hobbies and tasks to do on a daily basis.
Here’s the problem: We often use these tasks to distract ourselves from what is quite possibly one of the most crucial tasks of our lives: discovering who we are.
On the surface, this might sound fluffy and woo-woo. I mean, really, who has time to sit under a tree and contemplate their true identity and life’s purpose?
I guarantee that if you don’t make this time, you will leave this world with regrets. Before you die, you aren’t going to look back over your life and think, “I’m so happy my house was spotless every day” or “It’s fantastic that I was promoted to manager and made 70K every year” or “It means so much to me that I wore Calvin Klein every day.” Why not? Because these things don’t matter. You’re going to end up wishing you’d spent less time cleaning or worrying about your job or clothes and more time doing things you love.
When we do what we love, we are connected to our true self, our higher purpose. Things just feel right. Our house could be a disaster, and we could be making 10K a year and wearing a paper bag, but we would be living on purpose.
So how do we rediscover our true self? By taking time to go home.
In the book Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, there’s a fantastic chapter called “Homing: Returning to Oneself.” In the chapter, Estes provides a list of small things that we can do almost any time to reconnect with the deep and true essence of our being:
- Rereading passages of books and single poems that have touched you
- Spending a few minutes near a river, stream, or creek
- Lying on the ground in dappled light
- Being with a loved one without kids around
- Sitting on the porch shelling something, knitting something, peeling something
- Walking or driving for an hour, any direction, then returning
- Boarding any bus, destination unknown
- Making drums while listening to music
- Greeting sunrise
- Driving out to where the city lights do not interfere with the night sky
- A special friend
- Sitting on a bridge with legs dangling over
- Holding an infant
- Sitting by a window in a cafe and writing
- Sitting in a circle of trees
- Drying hair in the sun
- Putting hands in a rain barrel
- Potting plants, being sure to get hands very muddy
- Beholding beauty, grace, the touching frailty of human beings
No matter how busy or stressed or disconnected you are, these types of simple tasks will bring you home. Make time for them. Every day.
For several years now, I’ve made a habit of trying to return home to myself every morning and every evening. Without this balance, I start to feel off course. I get an aching inside for some substantial/meaningful conversation. I get incredibly thirsty for more depth in my life, and if I don’t get it, I start to wither.
To avoid this situation, I’ve made a commitment to myself to consistently carve out time to go home every day. This time is sacred, and I take it very seriously. No interruptions and no excuses allowed. If I have a busy morning, I wake up earlier to make sure I still get my “me time.” Of course, sometimes sh*t happens, so I don’t beat myself up when I occasionally miss this special time. However, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I treat this time as I would brushing my teeth or taking a shower—it happens every day, whether I feel like it or not.
Here is what my daily homing routine looks like right now:
- In the morning, I meditate for an hour (or a half hour, or fifteen minutes—whatever my schedule will allow).
- After meditating, I look out the window and spend five minutes taking some deep breaths and noticing the beauty around me. I say (out loud) everything that I’m grateful for in my life. This could be something as simple as being grateful for the fact that I have eyes that can see.
- After lunch, I try to remember to take a bit of time to stretch and breathe. (This doesn’t always happen—I need to work on this one!)
- After dinner, I try to do at least two of the following four things: yoga, bike ride, nature walk, read.
In total, I’d say I spend around two to two and a half hours a day doing things that help me return home. Of course, not all of my days look like this. On some evenings, I have plans with friends, or some days I might have a lunch date. I adjust the schedule as I need. On days when I don’t have two hours, I’ll meditate for five minutes. You might literally only have ten minutes a day, but ten minutes is better than nothing. You don’t need to spend half your day in contemplative practice, but you do need to devote at least a sliver of time. Your “homing tasks” might also look very different from mine. Maybe you like painting, playing music, or fixing up old cars. Whatever it is, do it. Every day.
This routine creates a cycle in which I return home to myself every morning and every evening. This is a commitment I’ve made to nurture that part of me that is wild, instinctual, true, and strong. The great thing is that after I do these practices, I return to the world with renewed energy to go about my daily life.
By taking time for myself, the quality of my work in the outer world improves.
This week, take some time to return home to yourself. Get rid of the excuses that you use to avoid spending time with you. Learn to say “no” to others and start delegating menial tasks. The business of homing is among some of the most important work you’ll ever do. Everyone can set their alarm five minutes earlier in the morning and spend five minutes before bed reconnecting. That’s only ten minutes of your day. Think of all the things you waste ten minutes on in a given day. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time rediscovering the true you?
Clarissa Pinkola Estes puts it this way:
“Regardless of your [returning] home time, an hour or days, remember, other people can pet your cats even though your cats say only you can do it right. Your dog will try to make you think you are abandoning a child on the highway, but will forgive you. The grass will grow a little brown but will revive. You and your child will miss each other, but be glad when you return. Your mate may grump. They’ll get over it. Your boss may threaten. She or he will get over it too. Staying overlong [away from home] is madness. Going home is sanity.”
“When a [person] speaks their truth, fires up their intention and feeling, stays tight with the instinctive nature, they are singing, they are living in the wild breath-stream of the soul. To live this way is a cycle in itself, one meant to go on, go on, go on”
What are you going to do this week to return home to yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on the topic of manifesting your dream job, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
*Photo Credit: miriadna.com