The Guest House, a poem by Rumi, is often quoted by mindfulness teachers because it expresses so well the importance of accepting all our emotions. The poem invites us not to resist difficult and painful emotions but to welcome them. The image of welcoming the thoughts and entertaining them allows us to practice meeting our emotions and thoughts with courage, compassion and gratitude.
Rumi’s analogy of a guest house reminds us that these emotions aren’t permanent, and they will leave. We allow them to pass through us without becoming attached to them. Although we cannot imagine it at the moment that we are experiencing pain or difficult thoughts, acknowledging them may help clear “you out for some new delight.”
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Translation by Coleman Barks
This week, when a difficult emotion or thought arises you may think of them as a visitor at your door. Using the mindfulness practice of RAIN may help you deal with it mindfully.
Recognize that the emotion is knocking at your door. Research shows that just naming your emotions can have a calming effect and decrease the fear system in the brain. You might say to yourself,” this feels like anger”.
Allow the emotion to be present. Accept it. Don’t suppress it.
Inquire and investigate what you feel physically and emotionally. Where in your body do you feel this?
Non-identification helps us understand that strong emotions are a passing mind state. By accepting that “this too will pass” helps us face our feeling. This also allows us to look at the situation differently