The Guest House Mindfulness Exercise

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’re 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 whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Verse from ‘The mouse and the camel’

Always check your inner state
with the lord of your heart.
Copper doesn’t know it’s copper,
until it’s changing to gold.
Your loving doesn’t know majesty,
until it knows its helplessness.

(I am indebted to Coleman Barks, whose life work has been to translate Rumi’s work, and who has given me permission to share this poetry with you)

Mindfulness exercise

With the above poem in mind, meet any emotion that arises within you by seeing it as a visitor knocking at your guest house door, and use RAIN to help yourself mindfully deal with it:

Recognise that the emotion is knocking at the door of your guest house

Allow the emotion to be present (do not suppress it, but accept it is there)

Inquire and investigate where in your body you feel this and what specific characteristic accompany any feelings that are there.

Non identification: Ask yourself “Is this me, or is this simply passing through me?”

By accepting that “This too will pass” (the guest will eventually leave the guesthouse) you will be able to face your emotions and feelings with more courage and optimism