There are certain pockets of the world that continue to call to me. Even after visiting them, I get this strong sense of needing to return. I’m drawn back. Maybe it’s a past life thing, a familiarity I just can’t put my finger on. It’s a place that feels like I belong, like home. If you’ve never experienced that, it’s indescribable. Tulum in Mexico is one of those places for me.
Psychologist, Counselor, Energy Healer and one of the pioneers of acupuncture in the U.S., Dr. Bobby Klein, has his Yäan Wellness Energy Spa there, within the Be Tulum Beach Spa & Resort. Tulum is hugged by the Caribbean Sea and the vast jungle symbolic of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a combination of nature and rawness, an energetic portal woven in with comfort and large brush strokes of luxury. It’s a favorite destination for yogis and the wellness-inclined.
Klein refers to his place as the wellness temple, and it is. The second you walk up the wooden path leading to the slab of open concrete encompassed by plenty of green foliage and incense (the area considered the lobby), your heart lunges forward and then remains blissfully still.
In this tranquil space, I sit observing the wooden cabanas on stilts located on the property where guest languidly prepare for treatments. I dig my toes into the softest grass I’ve come across, while smells of citronella and copal dance about, contemplating the serenity that unfolds as the excitement begins to spill forth.
I’ve come here to Tulum to partake in a 3-hour Mayan ceremony on the beach during a blood moon and eclipse. I’m in a Temazcal (sweat lodge) led by shaman Chimal Ku Itza and a group of 6 individuals; by far, one of the most intense and soul-shaking spiritual experiences of my life.
Imagine 7 people packed, elbow-to-elbow into a small igloo made out of clay. The igloo is so small you have to crawl to get into it, with a pit located in the center. The ceremony is performed at night. Volcanic stones are placed in the pit, along with herbs and water, creating a steam-filled encapsulation. Everyone is to remain in the igloo, in darkness, with the doorway covered by a thick Mexican blanket. The shaman then begins to chant Mayan prayers as the group sits in silence.
An hour into it, all you can think about is fresh air filling your lungs, cold water entering your mouth and the ache to run, not walk, home. A couple of hours later, the ritual, between the uncompromising steam, the chanting and the sweaty bodies uncomfortably close, all your soul wants to do is jump out of its skin. The word that kept coming up during this process, the one word that soothed my anxiety was: home.
But where is that now? Does home need a specific location, an address? There’s always a sense of nostalgia for home. It’s associated with youth, and with simpler times.
I thought about all the places I’ve traveled to in the past year. Feeling a bit like a female Indiana Jones, I’ve been to Playa Del Carmen, Hong Kong, Beijing, Chengdu, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Marrakech, Merida, Tulum and soon Istanbul. All of those places have led me here — to a rural stretch of beach with a group repeating Mayan chants phonetically, expelling a cacophony of heaviness and thinking of home — wherever that may be for a wanderluster.
Can you image the freedom we’d all have access to if we trained our mind to acknowledge home as a place we carry with us anywhere we go? Author Verlyn Klinkenborg describes home as “a place we carry inside ourselves, a place where we welcome the unfamiliar because we know that as time passes it will become the very bedrock of our being.”
Composer John Cage seconds Klinkenborg’s ideology by sharing that carrying our homes within us enables us to fly…what a powerful concept. If we adhere to that premise and make it part of our guiding principles, we need not want for very much. Our human demand for love, shelter and basic necessities are spoken for.
“The eternal pull of finding a true home within us starts when we are born and tugs at us until our very last breath.”
Konstantin Stanislavski, considered to be the father of modern theater, implemented in his teachings the concept of sense memory, or creative fantasy, as a tool to return back to a place or experience and relive it to bring it forth to the present. In acting, it’s described as the ability to create a “sense of truth” around make-believe circumstances. Actors under this method are taught to do this on cue.
When I moved to Mexico City in 2002, I was going through a very difficult divorce. I had never lived away from my family at the time. I moved to a developing nation, coming from a paradise like Miami, all by myself. Going through a failed marriage was wretched enough, but finding myself alone and lonely felt like I had tossed my heart in the Louisiana bayou in the middle of summer, and it cried for me every night. I could hear it all the way in Mexico.
In that dark space, I remembered the tools I had learned during my acting days. Memory recall (or sense memory) was my balsam in moving through the energetic swampland that was forming in my mind. I would travel back to my home, to my bathtub. I would imagine myself giving my mom a big hug right before running a hot bath, making tea and finding a great book to read while soaking my worries away. That was my comfort zone.
Every time, no matter where I was, or what I was going through. I’d calm myself, close my eyes and travel back in time. I’d envision that experience while engaging each and every one of my senses, into real time. The pace of my heart would slow down, my breathing would relax and joy would wash over me. That was my home.
And that is what carrying home within you means. It’s never too far away. If you allow your imagination to take flight and train your mind to access home on cue, that kind of freedom, that kind of internal strength is very powerful. And something you’ll never want to live without.