Have you ever had one of those moments when a poem, a song, a piece of writing, or a piece of writing pierced your heart and hit you right in the heart?
Recently, I was taking a meditation training and someone shared a remarkable poem. Somehow, it covered our entire retreat.
Yes, it’s about being mindful and being kind to ourselves. But it’s about more than that.
It’s really about the elusive goal of the good life that Socrates so eloquently and timelessly laid out.
He said: “Know thyself!”
Or a slightly longer version, “Knowledge of self is the beginning of wisdom.”
In fact, I love this poem so much that I framed it. Now it sits in a nice big red frame in my meditation practice room.
I did this because I wanted to remind myself WHY I sit down to meditate every morning.
It is the name of the poem guest house by Rumi. Here it is.
This person is a guest house.
A new arrival every morning.
A joy, a depression, a humiliation,
some momentary awareness comes
like an unexpected guest.
Welcome and have fun all!
Though they are a crowd of sorrows,
who forcibly sweeps your house
still treat every guest with respect.
Maybe it cleans you up
for a new taste.
Dark thinking, shame, evil,
Greet them at the door with a smile
and invite them in.
Thank whoever comes
because each one has been sent
as a guide from the outside.
– by Rumi
Can you relate?
And this is true. Mindfulness is meeting all of these. The good, the glorious, the bad, the abyss and every shade in between. Hugging us all is no small challenge.
But ironically, that’s where solidity, clarity, and calm come from. Being intentional with all of this.
More than any other meditation practice I’ve done, mindfulness meditation has helped me experience the lessons of the Guest House.
Being here, interested and meeting all my messes.
If you can get in touch, let me know what you think of the poem. Or just leave a high five/fist bump/thumbs up in the comments because…Rumi.
Oh, and here’s a picture of a framed version of the Guest House sitting in my meditation room.