Embracing emotions - inspired by 'The Guest House' poem
Updated: Jun 17
One of my favourite poems is Rumi's 'The Guest House' which explore how one can relate to unpleasant emotions and experiences. When I first heard the poem I thought it was about accepting difficult aspects of life, but months later I heard it again and noticed the word 'welcome'. Welcome the unpleasant emotions as special guests. I have had a taxing afternoon trying to deal with computer issues, of which I am pretty ignorant and also impatient! So right now, I am feeling frustrated and a bit shaky. Let's see..... "Welcome Frustration! Welcome Annoyance! Welcome Shakiness! Come in, make yourselves at home, warm your feet by the fire." If I do this to try and get the feelings to go way, they stay lurking around me. But when I am genuinely embracing emotions, welcoming them, showing gratitude for their presence - they have given me a focus for writing this after all - I can feel myself gaining some perspective and am less stressed. Welcoming the unpleasant experiences is a step further than softening resistance to them, it gives me a sense that I am cheerful that they are around, instead of being their victim. Pleased to see them as old friends who have come to visit unexpectedly.
When I heard the poem at a later date, I then noticed the word 'laughing'. Can we meet our troubles at the door laughing? Sometimes this seems such a peculiar thing to consider, it actually lightens my mood when I see if I can do it.
I sometimes actually say the words out loud, "Welcome..... Come in. Anyone else out there? Ah, Anger, Hurt. Hello, come in, come and join the others." I appreciate this might make me seem a little mad - the bizarreness of talking out loud to my emotions as if they were some sort of live being does often make me laugh a little which also helps relieve my mood.
You can read more about this approach in my mindfulness blog with suggestions for when we're feeling emotional and don't want to be.
I imagine I am a Himalayan mountain and there are charming little guesthouses in my foothills. The emotions float towards me and, once I have welcomed them, I point them in the direction of their guesthouse. Sometimes I imagine them as children whose hands I am holding as we walk along. But that will be another blog. I sense I am putting off greeting Frustration once more as I go back to my computer tasks. So, "Welcome Frustration and "It shouldn't be this way". Please come in.
And I notice shakiness has gone and some sense of calm and gratitude have arrived. But I will keep the welcome mat out as no doubt other visitors are on their way!