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Returning Home

THICH NHAT HANH offers a guided meditation to relax our body and mind and return to the here and now. Fully present, fully alive, we find we are already home.

Do you remember anything from your stay in your mother's womb? All of us spent about nine months there. That's quite a long time. I believe that all of us had a chance to smile during that time. But who were we smiling at? When we're happy, there's a natural tendency to smile. I have seen people, especially children, smiling during their sleep.

Our time in our mothers’ wombs was a wonderful time. We did not have to worry about food or drink. We were protected from heat and cold. We didn't have to do homework or housework. Protected in our mothers' wombs, we felt quite safe. We didn't have to worry about anything at all. No worry is wonderful. I believe many of us still remember that time spent in our mothers’ wombs. Many people have the impression that they were once in a safe and wonderful paradise and now they have lost that paradise. We think somewhere out there is a beautiful place without worry or fear, and we long to get back there. In the Vietnamese language the word for uterus is “the palace of the child.” Paradise was inside of our mothers.

In the womb, your mother took care of you. She ate and drank for you. She breathed air for you, in and out. And I guess that she dreamed for you as well. I imagine you dreamed your mother’s dreams. And if your mother smiled, I think you smiled too. If your mother dreamed about something difficult, and she cried in her dream, I guess that you probably cried with her. You shared her dreams and her nightmares, because you and your mother weren’t two separate people. You were physically attached to your mother through the umbilical cord. And your mother channeled to you through that umbilical cord food and drink, oxygen, everything, including her love. You mother probably took care of her body differently when you were in it. She may have been more careful while walking. She may have stopped drinking or quit smoking. These are very concrete expressions of love and care. You were there, you had not been born, and yet you were the object of love.

Your mother nourished you before you were born, but if you look deeply you will see that you also nourished your parents. Because of your presence in her body, they may have smiled more and loved life even more. You hadn't done anything to your parents yet, and yet they were nourished by your presence. And their life changed from the moment of your conception in your mother's womb. Perhaps your mother talked to you before you were born. And I believe, I am convinced, that you heard her talking with you and you responded. Perhaps it happened that occasionally she forgot you were there. So perhaps you gave her a kick to remind her. Your kick was a bell of mindfulness, and when she felt that she may have said, “Darling, I know you are there and I am very happy.” This is the first mantra.

When you were first born, someone cut your umbilical cord. And quite likely you cried aloud for the first time. Now you had to breathe for yourself. Now, you had to get used to all the light surrounding you. Now, you had to experience hunger for the first time. You were outside of your mother, but still somehow inside her. She embraced you with her love. And you embraced her at the same time. You were still dependent on her. You may have nursed at her breast. She took care of you day and night. And although the cord was no longer whole between you, you were linked to your mother in a very concrete, intimate way. 

As an adult, you may fight very hard to convince yourself that you and your mother are two different people. But it's not really so. You are a continuation of both your parents. When I meditate, I can still see the cord connecting me to my mother. When I look deeply, I see there are umbilical cords linking me to phenomena as well. The sun rises every morning. And thanks to the sun, we have heat and light. Without these things, we can't survive.


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