Guest house – a meditation

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.

— Rumi

I keep coming back to this poem. Recently I have been faced with some challenges in accepting aspects of myself. Rumi reminds me that whatever comes will have value, even if I can't see it today, and that I ought to welcome it as a guest.

A few days ago, I dropped my son off to begin the next phase of his young adult life, in a state almost 1000 miles away. He has made some choices about how he intends to live. I don't agree with those choices, and I fear that it will go badly for him. I was not accepting that fear, but was pushing back against it, not wanting to welcome it into the guest house of my humanity. Through listening and meditation, I have come to realize that this inability to accept my fear cut me off from being able to hear any concerns and fears that my son might have about his choices. And also makes it hard for me to share his excitement about this new venture he is embarking on. I am harmed, and our relationship is harmed.

Another “visitor” that I am having trouble welcoming in, is my fear around my mother's failing health. When I am sitting in my fear, not accepting it and welcoming it in, it is hard for me to be with her. I deny her my presence and I deny myself opportunities to be with her during however much time she has left on this earth. If I avoid the potential pain of seeing her decline, I am essentially saying goodbye to her now, pre-grieving her eventual death. I cannot visit her frequently, as my parents live a day's drive from me. I had an opportunity to visit recently. I handed my fear and anxiety to god, held in compassion and love her struggle with simple tasks, and had a good visit.

It is not easy, when a “dark thought, a shame, a malice” comes to my door, to “laughing invite them in”. But when I do, I often find that they have “been sent as a guide from beyond.”

A meditation for August 14, 2013.

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awareness – a meditation


If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

Bruce Lee

This quote reminds me of every time I have turned myself into a victim. I would often feel frustrated by a situation in my life, but be afraid of change. That is to say, I would prioritize my fear of change over my frustration about the situation. I think, had I been self-aware enough to realize and accept this, I would have been more serene. But instead, I told myself I was a victim and that I was forced into a situation in which I did not want to be. This self-defeatist attitude did not serve me, however. Instead, it added to my unhappiness.

When I came to my recovery program, however, people did not judge my choices. Instead they offered a safe place for me to be myself – whatever choices that might entail. In this safe environment, I was able to take my own inventory and see my part in the situations about which I felt unhappy. Then I was able to be self-aware about the role I played in my life. Once I was able to see that and see that I had choices, I no longer felt like a victim. At that point, regardless of my external circumstances, I was able to see myself as valued and empowered to take control of my own life. I no longer needed to stay at my plateau. I could move forward.

Today, I will not talk about the things I can't do. I will only talk about the things I can do. In doing so, I will be able to see the solution rather than focusing on the problem and am better able to see my part in it.

A meditation for August 4, 2013.

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