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 whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Such wise words in this poem. Yet often so difficult to remember and to truly welcome the more unpleasant and distressing emotions or states as if an unexpected guide sent from beyond.

When we begin to get to know all the parts of our selves, with openness and curiosity, for what they offer in the way of knowledge, protection, and survival, we begin to grow a deep compassion for our self and all it's manifestations.

Anxiety, for example, is terribly uncomfortable. But when interpreted as a primative alarm that your mind uses to warn you of danger, one can slow down and try to make sense of what has triggered this warning sign - whether something important to tune into in the present and to be wary of OR a recognition that something in the present has triggered an old memory and that memory has been awoken, manifesting the anxiety of that time. In the case of the former, that warning signal is important to pay attention to so that you can protect yourself; this is how anxiety is meant to serve us. In the case of the latter, the realization in and of itself - that this felt sense of anxiety is actually a memory (not something to be alarmed about in the present) - allows the nervous system to calm down and relax.

Rumi beautifully illustrates in this piece how our true self is but a host that is able to observe the comings and goings of multiple guests, each with their own idiosyncrasies, personalities, and agendas. And yet each guest, in its own way, also contributing in some way to the well-being of the host.

© Ellie Vargas, LCSW