Thursday, November 21, 2013

WelcoME and Entertain Them All

Among the most frequently recited poems at mindfulness trainings and workshops across the globe is Rumi's "The Guesthouse."

In it, Rumi offers us a poignant insight on the value of "welcoming" momentary thoughts, feelings, and sensations that visit us throughout our lives.

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival
A joy, a meanness, a depression
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor

Welcome and entertain them all

Though he makes reference to pleasant emotional experiences, like "joy," he focuses mainly on the unpleasant ones--on the visitors we rather not let in.

Focusing on "sorrow" he writes,

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 a new delight.

While the poem is powerful and the insight keen--and ripe for mindfulness discussion--the ultimate question is raises for many is . . .

How do I welcome them?
How to I entertain them all?
How, especially if they are a crowd of sorrows?

In today's blog I offer a suggestion for taking on this seemingly daunting mission. I draw on something explicit in the poem, but generally not explored.

A hint can be found at the end of the word, "welcome." ME

There is much more to ME than the more salient affective state. We embody them all.

The invitation is a simple and straightforward one--Welcome and entertain "THEM ALL"

Often we open ourselves to more directly noticing and experiencing the challenging emotion--anger, fear, sorrow, doubt.

But arising alongside these emotions, in a softer voice and more subtly form is its complement--affection, courage, joy, confidence.

But because these more subtle forms are less noticeable we tend not to notice them or to welcome them.

So, the next time you are visited by a "momentary" visitor and you are able to bring awareness to this happening, invite not just the more palpable emotion, but look around for its complement, and welcome them all.

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