We can make a home out of many a things—a person, a job, the actual, physical utility of a house or apartment. Home can have preconceived notions and predetermined conditions, many of which are things we are taught as beholden to us—a series of biases and projected feelings about what defines a home. And, it all is based on our own individual paths. But, what if the concept of home could actually be traced to one core idea that we can all collectively agree upon? What if home is our hearts?

Our heart practice may be the greatest practice we have. This bleeding, beating heart sustains us, even in the most troubling and tiresome times. The saying “home is where the heart is” may feel too lofty, too idealistic to some. Some may consider it to be too hearty (pardon the pun), too weighty even. But the heart is our guide; it is a tool, a resource. Our heart gets to be our north star—that great thing that lead us to where we want to be. We ignore the heart often, siding with what we decide is our logical mind. This thinking leads us to believe that the heart and mind are actually functioning apart from each other. But, there lies the disconnect.

Our hearts and mind are actually one. Our body is connected—all synapses and nerve endings, cells and neurons are a road map: a map that connects us all to each other, and connects our beings to our own infinite source—our spirit. With this in mind, cultivating the heart—it’s beating softness, tender sound and breathing life into all parts of us—is the center of it all. When we think of home, let us think of the heart.

These times have pushed many of us to steer away from our hearts, in fear that being too close will push us toward more pain, more hurt, and more suffering. When, in actuality, the further we move away from our hearts, the further we are from our truest essence, which is love. Pain and hurt are par for the course in our lifespans on earth. There is no avoiding the crushing blow of rejection, the loss of a love or an opportunity; there is nothing we can do to avoid grief, to curtail any scarring or wounds that may occur in this living. Being present for this, accepting this, is a form of love. And love is home. And that home lives in our hearts. It lives in all of us.

To truly honor what lies within our hearts, empathy and compassion are needed. Grace and mercy are necessary. Gratitude is a must, and practicing those things on ourselves first clears a pathway that will guide us back home. That could be a gratitude journal. We get to remind ourselves what home looks and feels like for us. We can even start the process of creating an altar, paying homage to the ancestors before us who have paved a way for us to find home, honoring them with fresh flowers, prayer, or photos. It is in this practice of gratitude, of showing up for ourselves, that we allow all the other pieces that make up the home within us to flourish.

When we connect back to our hearts, the vulnerability we fear becomes the beacon that drives us toward the safety of what a whole and present life can feel like. This does not mean a lack of hurt, but rather allows us to almost provide a loving touch, a hug even to that hurt, to be there for it in a way that can give us the kind of comfort we tend to try and find in impermanent things or people. It’s here that our heart can provide us the warmth our spirits cry for, and can also bring toward us the kind of community that will also align with our ways of being. That is not to say that the road to home will be easy, but it is to say that the path there will be met with friendly neighbors and detours along the way, which makes it much more the sanctuary we desire it to be.

Some of us have lost our way home. Some of us are still feeling it. And, that constant will to find what is missing will eventually lead us back to our own selves. Home is indeed where the heart is; it is where the love is. Our home is here, in this breath and in this moment. Our home is our heart.