Do you ever have one of those moments when a poem, a song, or a piece or writing just pierces your heart and hits you square?
Recently I was taking a meditation training and someone shared a remarkable poem. Somehow, it seemed to encapsulate our entire retreat.
Yes, it’s about mindfulness, and about being kind to ourselves. But it’s about so much more than that.
It’s really about that elusive goal of a life well-lived, which Socrates put in such a pithy and timeless way.
He said: “Know Thyself!”
Or the slightly longer version, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
In fact, I love this poem so much that I had it framed. Now it sits in my meditation practice room in a beautiful big red frame.
I did this because I wanted to remind myself WHY I’m sitting down to meditate each morning.
The name of the poem is The Guest House by Rumi. Here it is.
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.
Can you relate?
And it’s true. Mindfulness is about welcoming all of it. The good, the glorious, the bad, the abysmal, and every shade between. Embracing all of ourselves is no small challenge.
But ironically, that’s where resilience, clarity, and equanimity come from. Intentionally being with it all.
More than any other meditation practice I’ve done, mindfulness meditation has helped me live the lessons of The Guest House.
To be right here, curious, and welcoming the whole messy business of me.
All of it.
If you can relate, let me know what you think of the poem. Or just pop a high five/fist bump/thumbs up in the comments because…Rumi.
Oh, and here’s a picture of that framed version of The Guest House sitting in my meditation room.