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.
— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
This altered book/ journal is inspired by this beloved poem. Rumi’s message is as relevant today as ever (he wrote this in the 13th century, but it could be a text from a contemporary book about Mindfulness- what a visionary!) Our human experience is a guest house; all feelings will arise, pleasant, painful, neither, and both. Our guests will arrive, welcome, or not. Sometimes I wake with a mind full of so many guests, form all quarters, with so many agendas, it feels like they are throwing a party; and Rumi reminds me that I have a responsibility as a host to welcome them all.
Rather than burying them or attempting to send them away, we can try to embrace all these emotions- we are the host to these feelings, we can’t turn them away.
Khalil Gibran said in the Prophet: “The more sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” By recognising the emotion, allowing it to exist, noticing the reaction of mind and body, we find freedom to look at the situation differently and choose a different story. Isn’t that the definition of mindfulness?
So here I am now, trying not to categorise my feelings into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ but to find a gift in every visitor, every experience.
(The journal is an altered book- a concertina book about Rome, about 2 m long! …)