Anita Moorjani, author of her own story, Dying to Be Me,tells about her experience of dying.
In her words:
...I found a lump in my shoulder and was diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system. For 4 years, my body was ravaged by not only the disease itself, but also my fear of it. My weight dropped to 80 pounds... Then, one morning I didn’t wake up. My husband rushed me to the hospital where he was told that I had entered a coma and my organs were slowly shutting down...
She goes on to say she had a near-death experience (NDE), a term first coined by Dr. Raymond Moody in the 1970s to describe a memory someone has about existing after their body has been clinically dead (no brain/organ function, heart beat, breath, etc). She woke after her doctor had already told her husband that she wouldn't, and within five weeks she was home, and doctors couldn't find any evidence of tumors.
Imagine coming home from the hospital after such an ordeal. But even more profound, imagine leaving your body with your consciousness fully intact and being instantly in a place that other NDE-ers, Anita Moorjani included, describe as home. This is one of many widespread similarities that people have who describe NDEs. Other similarities are seeing a light and tunnel, being greeted by deceased family members, meeting a wise being or God, and seeing the body and what's going on around it, but having no connection or desire to go back to it. This place outside the body, for many of those privileged few who get to consciously experience it, is home.
You don't have to believe in NDEs to define home for yourself. Home can mean anything from a page on a website to the house you bought. It can be the place where you love to sit in a favorite chair in one warm corner curled up with a pillow. It may where you return when you're done with work or a trip away. Home may be where you grew up, where your family lives, or where "everybody knows your name." It may be a sense you carry with you, a feeling that you can literally hang up your hat and be home wherever that is.
Home is a longstanding theme in my life. I left my childhood home at 18 and returned a few times for about a year until I moved and made my new home in a new state 2000 miles away. I once spent a year in another country, where the idea of home became even more distant. I wrote a little poem in my first month there that I never consciously memorized yet still remember:
Here I am now / in a place not my own / this is not my home / pushed into the moment / held back by the future / here I am, now.
When I returned, it became more possible to me that home could be a feeling, an internalized place. And then, a song got stuck in my head. Now, this happens sometimes and always has throughout my life, but in this case the song would come back to me many times a week and went on like this for two years. The song was White Christmas. I didn't think much of it for quite a while, and then a book came out that was all about this song. This is where I learned that White Christmas was a song that really had nothing to do with snow or even Christmas, like I thought; rather, it meant that soldiers stationed overseas were thinking - dreaming - of going home.
And then I did something I never thought I would do: I returned to my hometown. It was a complete reset, a true starting-over. As soon as I got there, the song stopped playing in my head. I was near family and people and places I'd known for most or all of my life. I realized I was somewhere I belonged - this was, to me, the definition of home.
Don't you know you can't go home again? This is the phrase they say Ella Winter spoke to Thomas Wolfe in real life one day, a phrase with which he was so taken as an author that he used it as the title of his book. In the book, he writes about a man who writes about his hometown and all the people in it. When he visits the town after the book was published, the people there are incensed with his representation of them. This was not quite true of my hometown, but after spending two more years there as an adult after trying to "go home again," I had come to find that it was no longer home. I could not go home again.
As Anita Moorjani found from her travels outside the home of her body, home is a state and a place. We all know about the places we call home, but the state is another thing entirely. For me these days, home is less a place than it is a feeling. A state of mind, of comfortable return. It is sometimes a peaceful aloneness, sometimes in the house where I live, and sometimes simply in the company of another person.
As with others, there are times when I, too, feel at home, and when I do not feel at home. The latter is not a good feeling, is it? But then it forces you to find the unchangeable, unshakable, immovable home to which you actually can return, over and over, day in and day out, any time you want, until the very last moment: the home that is a state of being or state of mind, and not a place.
Wherever you are, in a period of relative quiet, see if you can locate where your state of home is. You may have some questions:
What specific feelings constitute the feeling of being home?
Do I belong with a certain person or people? Who are they?
Does being around a certain person, people, or place bring me a sense of peace, of return, a feeling of settledness?
Do I feel comfortable and able to rest most easily in one place on Earth? Where is it? Is it really a place, or is it a state of mind that brings me there?