Where do you belong?

Do you have a spot in your home that is your spot?  The small area you return to over and over again for whatever reason; the spot others (the cat, the dog, your spouse) get kicked out of if they should ever have the lapse in judgement to sit there…in your spot?  I have one, on the left side of my sofa, I surround myself in pillows and have a perfect view of my backyard - I'm sitting here now, as a matter of fact.

Or maybe you don't have a spot, but I bet you have a side of the bed, or your side of the bathroom sink,  or the place you usually park your car at work (I have all of these things).

We as human beings have an innate desire to belong.  Some would call it being territorial, a feeling of ownership, or sense of control, and I don't disagree - but I think fundamentally, at our very core, it's about feeling like we belong.  You get into your side of the bed, or settle into your favorite spot in the house, and you have the sensation, "I'm supposed to be here."  There is something so comforting and peaceful about that sensation.  You are exactly where you need to be, you belong right here.

So often, people come into my office describing the emptiness of being lonely - not just the sensation of not having people around - but real existential loneliness, the feeling of "I am all alone in this life".  It can be expressed and felt in so many ways.  From a misunderstanding, to a break up, to growing up - we all have those moments where we think, "Crap, I'm alone."  Even when you are surrounded by a hundred loving people, you can still feel this way.

Now, philosophers, scientists, and theologians have debated this idea of alone-ness for thousands of years - I am not in the business of debate, I will leave that to them.  What I do know is that people feel alone all the time, and simply because of that fact, it is an idea worth addressing.  Reason is a beautiful thing, but it has a way of demonizing the unknowable, even if we all share it.

So, how do you face that feeling of being alone?  One idea I include in much of my practice: Cultivate, or return to, places where you feel you belong.  A sense of place can be a powerful thing.  Just consider the difference in the way you feel between a friend's home and your own home.  Or the difference you feel between a bustling city and a remote mountaintop.  Places infuse us with their energy - imagine what energy you would receive from a place that truly felt like home.

Your spot - it could be in your house somewhere.  But, you aren't always at home, you can't take your home with you, and homes change over time.  I challenge you to think bigger.  Go outside. Find a spot that reminds you that you belong on this planet, among the living things that grow and suffer and thrive.  You breathe the same air, you feel the same sun and rain, you look at the same sky.  Look for a spot under a tree, or in your backyard, or along a creek, and return there often.  Notice the way that life continues there through day and night, summer and winter, year after year.  Notice that all you have to do to be welcome there is to simply be.  No judgment, no pretense, no expectations.  

If you want to go a step further - tend to this place.  Pick up trash, remove clutter, help it grow.  Caring for something outside of yourself might seem like a small thing, but you will be pleasantly surprised by how much more a part of something you feel if you infuse it with your energy, as it infuses you.

So, tell me, where do you belong?