What constitutes home for you and where or what do you regard as home?
One of the more challenging practical tasks that I’ve had to face on my downshifting journey is selling or giving away treasured pieces of furniture. At one time they held immense sentimental value for me and represented many years of hard earned wages saved in order to afford them. Sadly, though, my attachment to these items presented me with a dilemma where I realised I was trying to squeeze far too much into a small space – the house I’d downshifted into. I felt pressurised and claustrophobic and, interestingly, this emotional state crept into other areas of my life, triggering similar sentiments about my relationships and my work. Time to face up to what I was clinging on to!
What was I trying to achieve? When I reflected on this question during contemplation and journalled some thoughts, I realised that the nature of home for me had changed. Rather than standing as a memorial to my affluenza days, I now needed it to be a sanctuary. That type of dwelling, my refuge, for me would be simple, clutter free, calm and orderly. Do you spot the conflict? I’ve noticed elderly people wrestling with this friction-provoking state of affairs when they move from a house into a flat after the death of a partner, for example, or when they realise they can no longer cope with managing a family home on their own. I hadn’t expected to be experiencing this quite so early in life!
Downshifting, and moving to a more sustainable way of surviving and thriving, is so much about letting go. Firstly, this becomes obvious with material possessions and later, as we find ourselves delving deeper into this process, it’s about letting go of some rather less obvious attachments: convenience at all times; ready-prepared, instant meals; daily changes of clothes and a large wardrobe; a busy social life; a busy working life; distractions; entertainment at the push of a button; gossip and scandal; the ability to travel at will. etc. etc.
With a more frugal, simplified existence, what are the essential ingredients and qualities of home? What’s really fundamentally important when we consider what and where we call home?
Here are some ideas from me:
- A sanctuary and refuge
- Peaceful, calm, mostly quiet
- Physically comfortable, without being luxurious
- With people I love and care about, or on my own.
- With access to nature
… and some more from coaching clients:
- Cosy and quaint
- Surrounded by trees
- Contains what I need for my self-care
- Space to move (Yoga, dance, exercise…)
- With my dog, my partner, my friends or alone.
- In the city, but self-contained.
- By the sea.
- On the land.
I find it interesting to note that many of these criteria apply equally to a home that is mobile, and that we might be able to temporarily construct wherever we are, or one that is fixed and therefore somewhere to return to.
What about our inner home? What do we carry around with us or hold internally that facilitates us coming back to ourselves whenever we need to? Perhaps we can commit to memory a grounding process – a meditation, visualisation or breathing practice, for example -that we can rely on to return us to an inner state of calm, courage and compassion or whatever state feels like home to us on the inside.
What are the essential ingredients and qualities of your inner and outer homes?