Last week I went home.
It was a place I had no memory of, where everyone and everything was different from anything I have ever known, but it was home. In many ways.
300,000 years ago people lived here. When the UK was under ice. The cradle of civilisation, in the heart of Africa, was where I was born.
Being a child with roots in two countries I have often reflected on how it feels to belong and how it feels to be slightly separate, dissonant, without roots, ill at ease.
It strikes me if your ancestors have lived off the same land as you for 300,000 years, there must be a deep sense of belonging, of wisdom and of peace.
Walking around the noisy, dusty, scorching streets of Kitwe Zambia, I felt deeply at home, I felt I belonged. What does that feel like? It feels safe, it feels like you could fall asleep right there, knowing that the world around you will take care of you.
I was blessed to spend time with a Zambian family, and discovered that sense of common responsibility, of interdependency and of complete trust that someone will be there for you. We walked around Mukuni village, a village whose ways has not changed for thousands of years, a village independent of money and outside influences, completely able to care for all its inhabitants easily, without strife or difficulty. The ground is fertile, the water clean, the kids happy.
I know many anthropologists and travellers would argue that I have a romantic view and surely people want cars, money, modern flats? Of course, there is that. The legacy of the white man. The other legacy, apart from the introduction of money, is the introduction of expensive drugs.. We were shown tree bark that helps with diarrhoea, herbs that help with common ailments, now shunned for expensive drugs from the West. This is the legacy of the white man.
But the main desire among the people I spoke to is to go back to the village as you get older, to go home. Isnt that what we all want, to go home, to peace, to where we belong, to the smells, the sounds and the sensations familiar and comfortable?
You guessed it, this to me is yoga, coming home to oneself, to the deep rest and peace within your very bones, the place that demands nothing, that asks for nothing except your very existence, where you have full permission to exist in all your majesty.
Welcome to yoga, welcome home!