This year for me has been about ‘coming home’. Or to be more precise ‘coming home to love’. How can this be in a year of such turmoil, tragedy, sadness, upheaval and change? My answer is that even more so this has brought me back to love. Or perhaps more accurately reminded me that this is where I choose to be to flourish. However hard things may seem, however sad I may feel, however lonely – come home to love.

My 2020 started in illness if I am to be accurate. But actually what I remember most is the call from a good friend who said you need antibiotics and you need them now – which led to me only a week later embarking upon a plane to Ahmedabad, India and walking into the most precious 10 days that would change my life forever… a time that I knew in my heart, and had always known, would bring me home.Steeped in unconditional love, kindness and compassion – Gandhi 3.0was transformational – 70 special souls exploring how inner transformation can lead to outer change; how small acts of service and kindness can ripple outwards and in very simple terms create global change in many magical ways…

“We are not merely what we do, but who we become by what we do.”

So, returning from this sacred space and time shared, launching our wonderful Bow-Wowza as a non-profit during times of COVID felt a natural flow to my inner and outer journey. Now, as with all of us, there have been the personal challenges of 2020. The loss, the pain, the despair, the loneliness. But each time, however hard it has been, I have asked myself, “What would love do; what would love say?”. I have learnt that this passionate, spontaneous, emotional being that I am needs, at times, to take a step (or three) back, take a deep breath (more than one ideally with a longer exhale!) and re-ground – before sometimes taking action. And come homehowever long it may take me, and some weeks it’s been longer than others!

Come Home to Love

by Rick Hanson

Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can’t see air, but it’s always available for you.

Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it’s in you and all around you.

In the press of life – dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts – it’s easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can’t place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity – between complete strangers! Let alone with one’s friends and family. 

Love is woven into your day because it’s woven into your DNA: as our ancestors evolved over the last several million years, many scientists believe that love, broadly defined, has been the primary driving force behind the evolution of the brain. Bands of early humans that were particularly good at understanding and caring for each other out-competed less cooperative and loving bands, and thereby passed on the genes of empathy, bonding, friendship, altruism, romance, compassion, and kindness – the genes, in a word, of love.

Nonetheless, even though the resting state of your brain – its “home base” when you are not stressed, in pain, or feeling threatened – is grounded in love, it’s all too easy to be driven from home by something as small as a critical comment in a business meeting or a frown across a dinner table. Then we go off to a kind of inner homelessness, exiled for a time from our natural abode, caught up in the fear or anger that makes love seem like a mostly-forgotten dream. After a while, this can become the new normal, so we call homelessness home – like becoming habituated to breathing shallowly and forgetting the richness of air that would be available if we would only breathe deeply.

So we need to come home to love. To recognize and have confidence in the love in your own heart – which will energize and protect you, even when you must also be assertive with others. To see and have faith in the love in others – even when it is veiled or it comes out in problematic ways. To trust in love that’s as present as air, to trust in loving that’s as natural as breathing.

So how do we come home you may ask? Well, I think for each of us this is different. And for me it is an ongoing, daily journey. But here are a few things I have learnt along the way and have put to good use this year, in case they are of interest to you.

Many years ago, one of my first forays into the world of ‘happiness’ was a workshop with Robert Holden, author and font of all knowledge when it come to happiness and wellbeing. Robert set us two simple tasks at the start of the day. To write a list of things you do or would like to do that bring you joy; and a list of things that take it away or make you sad. And look at how you can introduce more of the former into your life and remove the latter. Such a simple task it would seem. Too simple I thought to create real change. But simple can be profound. And this is what I have discovered. Calling a friend when I am in need. Not staying on my own and turning my phone off. Soaking in a warm bath with candles. Not skipping meals and sleep. And the lists go on. Create space for the simple things in life that bring you joy. What actions bring you home?

Who brings you home to love? Your partner, your child? A cherished friend or your pooch? I recently wrote to a dear friend and thanked him for the many gifts he had given me this year since our time together in January – and the many noble friends he had introduced me to in the past 12 months. His response was, “what a beautiful mirror you keep”. Sharing time with like-minded community, family and friends can without doubt bring us home as we are held in a space of safety and unconditional acceptance and love.

Giving unconditionally with love. This never fails to bring me home. I have found, even at my worst, if I am able to somehow turn myself around to be able to give to another – however small this may be, pending where I am at – the hope returns. There have been times when I have been walking Archie Archibald and the world has felt like it is ending. But I have forced myself to raise my head, to share a smile with a passer-by, and instantly my life-force has returned.

And finally, this year and its many gifts has taught as this same dear friend said, ‘that intuition can sometimes be a stronger guide than intellect’. For one so set on cerebral meanderings, this has been an interesting lesson for me to embrace – to let go of the natural analytical path I take every time a problem is presented – to remove myself from the head, to sit firmly in the heart and to follow the gut. To surrender to the unknown, and to trust in the beauty of its emergence.

So dear Hubbers, may 2021 bring you plenty of colour. Colours of all shades, depths, brightness, opacities. Wonderful colours of hope, love and life

Happy New Year to you all!