In a talk she gave called on lovingkindness Tara Brach, a wonderful teacher in Washington, DC, quoted a bumper sticker she had seen. She said, “If I lived in my heart, I’d be home right now.” I like this bumper sticker very much.
I keep thinking about this quote, asking myself, “Where am I at home?”
“Where do I have a safe place, a place of refuge?” I live on both sides of the country these days, back and forth. Are those locations my home? I have friends and family on both sides. Is my home with them? There are parts of home for me in all those people and places, certainly. But if I remembered what Tara quoted and I practiced making my home in my own heart, I’d always be at home, no matter where I was geographically or emotionally.
This is not a sentimental or an idle question for a person who has had a stroke.
So many times when we experience a stroke we react to ourselves as if we no longer know where home is. Everything has changed. We feel lost. And often we feel betrayed. We counted on ourselves, our bodies, our environments, and the people who love us to provide our sense of home. And now we don’t trust ourselves, our bodies, our environments, and sadly sometimes even our loved ones. We feel isolated and afraid.
In this fear, isolation and sense of betrayal, we look desperately for a place of rest, a place of safety. We need help. We look to our doctors, our nurses and our therapists and our friends and families and communities. We need all of them. The love and care they provide help restore not only our function, but also our sense of safety.
The place we often forget to look, though, is in ourselves. And that’s the place to start. Right here. As injured as I may be, this body/mind/spirit is the only one I have to work with. This one, just as I am, this is where I begin. I can’t live and thrive any place else, only here. Here, in my own heart is the one place I can truly build the trust and hope that I need to face what has happened to me.
When we come home to our hearts and are willing to be with ourselves, when we forgive ourselves for whatever we think we did or didn’t do, we are better able to focus on our recoveries. When we don’t, it’s hard to pay attention and learn what we have to work with and how we can work what we have.
Coming home to our own hearts reminds us to be kind to ourselves and to remember to trust our own wisdom and strength. When we practice trusting ourselves we are able to remember that everything we do to help ourselves matters. Everything. We are better able to engage in our therapy, and listen and learn. Coming home to our own hearts supports recovery.