I have been thinking a lot about the idea of home as we shelter in place all around the world. When my kids were little, they enjoyed reading “A House is a House for Me” by Mary Ann Hoberman. It is a story about all the ways in which creatures large and small all have a place to call home; even an ear of corn!
a web is a house for a spider
a bird builds its nest in a tree
there is nothing so snug as a bug in a rug
and a house is a house for me
It is so easy to abandon ourselves when we experience great suffering. This “leaving” in order to manage our pain can take many forms: worry, self criticism, overdoing through various behaviors or shutting down. Our path back to home base, to our heart center, can be a difficult one.
I learned a powerful heart-centered exercise while I was studying somatic psychotherapy. Psychologist Peter Levine teaches a grounding technique called the Voo breath practice that I now use and teach to others. This practice involves stimulating the vagas nerve, which connects our brainstem to our heart. When we do this breath work, the messages that are being sent from our core to our brains shift in significant ways. Levine writes:
In introducing the “voo sound” to my clients, I often ask them to imagine a foghorn in a foggy bay sounding through the murk to alert ship captains that they are nearing land, and to guide them safely home. This image works on different levels. First of all the image of the fog represents the fog of numbness and dissociation. The foghorn represents the beacon that guides the lost boat (soul) back to safe harbor, to home in breath and belly. This image also inspires the client to take on the hero role of protecting sailors and passengers from imminent danger. -Peter Levine, In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, p. 125
I invite you to try the Voo breath technique, which I have recorded below, during this unpredictable journey through stormy seas. It is a way to guide yourself home to a place of safety that is your birthright, resting in the body and the breath.
May you be well.