Welcoming in Difficult Emotions

Welcoming in Difficult Emotions

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.


It is intimidating to read this and think about "inviting in" feelings like shame or depression. How do we laugh when we experience sorrow, or be grateful when we feel guilt or anger?

This poem invites us to get curious with difficult emotions, and with the experience of being a feeling human, constantly navigating the ups and downs of life, and taking things personally because everything is personal in our experience.

Most of us have gotten used to identifying with our thoughts and feelings. We follow our mind down a rabbit hole of "what ifs" and judgement, and we attach ourselves to the belief that feelings which are uncomfortable are somehow wrong, or bad, or reflective of our own shortcomings as a person.

So how can we practice unconditional friendliness with ourselves, especially when we experience difficult emotions?

Recognize that you will feel a lot of feelings throughout the day, and not all of them will be easy.
Remember that it is a gift to feel these things, they are full of wisdom and guide us towards healing.

Whatever comes up, allow it to be. No matter what, treat yourself and these feelings with friendliness, and be truly curious. What brought this into your awareness? Where does it live in your body? What is the wisdom in this feeling- is it trying to protect you?

Take the time to sit quietly with yourself, as if you are offering support to a friend. Place a hand on your heart or belly and breathe deeply, letting your thoughts settle, and your feelings follow your breath out of the body. Thank yourself for remaining kind and curious.

This week, to practice unconditional friendliness with the self take some extra time to relax, reflect, and nourish the mind and body.


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