My Favorite Poem + Some Thoughts on Being Human
The poem below is a well-known one you may have read before. For me, it captures the essence of living mindfully.
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 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.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
How do we meet all of life's circumstances - the joys and the sorrows - with an open heart and an attitude of welcoming and being grateful for them vs. trying to push them away?
I remember when I was first diagnosed with cancer and found out I had a low-grade, low-stage lymphoma two and a half years ago. I was shocked, scared and completely caught off guard as we so often are when we find out news like that.
I can honestly say, though, that I spent very little energy entertaining thoughts like "Why me?" or "What bad luck." I quickly moved into solution mode and had a deep sense of gratitude (and still do) for the support and resources that showed up to help me.
Some of the healthiest people I know have have had cancer or died young from some type of serious illness. Eating well, exercising, taking care of ourselves doesn't make any of us immune from a serious illness.
This being human is messy, isn't it? Relationships end, jobs suddenly change, cars break down, we get cancer diagnoses. And it's often the things we don't see coming that really throw us for the biggest loops!
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf."
Mindfulness practice can help us slow down and respond with wisdom and clarity to life events. As we begin to cultivate a sense of acceptance that none of us are immune from loss, illness and (even though we love to resist it sometime!) change we can meet the waves of life with greater equanimity so we don't drown in them.
One of my favorite saying is from well-known mindfulness teacher Jon Kabbat-Zinn: "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf."
If you're going to be in or near Hilo, HI, next month I invite you to join me at Yoga Centered Studio for a 20-hour Mindful Life Program Foundations Course I'll be teaching there. We'll be diving into the topic of living mindfully and you will walk away with practical tools and practices to help cultivate greater wellbeing and genuine happiness in your life... and help you "surf the waves of life" with more grace and ease.
In the meantime, may you welcome ALL of the "guests" that show up on your doorstep with a sense of curiosity and openheartedness... allowing them to show you whatever they are meant to be teaching you right now.