Anxiety, disappointment, gratitude, joy – our emotions have run the gamut this past month as we adjust to our altered lives. In “The Guest House,” Sufi poet Rumi offers some sage advice for dealing with emotions as they come our way. This poem is as relevant today as it was in the 13th century when Rumi wrote it. No wonder it’s the most popular poem read at mindfulness retreats.
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.
Click here to listen to The Poetry Series read “The Guest House.”
Sure, it’s easy to welcome joy and happiness into our proverbial guest house, but what about some of the darker emotions like fear, anxiety, or sadness? It takes practice to greet them at the door with open arms instead of hurrying to hang the “no vacancy” sign.
Who’s staying in your guest house these days? Which emotions are you turning away? How do you greet unwelcome guests? Sometimes it helps to just name them like Simon and Garfunkel taught us with, “Hello, darkness, my old friend.”
“The Guest House” by Jalaluddin Rumi, from The Essential Rumi translated by Coleman Barks, 2004 Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes
Photo: Tiny guest house Portland_1 by IDesignArch