In the famous poem “Guest House” (below), by Jellaludin Rumi, we are reminded to welcome all the guests in our house, whether they might be thought of as “bad” or “good”. I apply this philosophy to uncomfortable images as well as uncomfortable feelings. If there is a person that I believe is thinking badly of me, or wishing bad things for me, I imagine myself in a warm embrace with them, and smiles all around. Of course, I should not be mind-reading in the first place, but it happens, and when it does, this is how I calm my mind so I can focus, in the present, on what I want to do, and also remind myself of other good mental hygiene related to distorted thinking. I have also used this technique for other harmful visualizations that occasionally emerge in my consciousness. On the advise of a therapist, I change those images from what is emerging to something else. This technique does not always work immediately, it does not always stop the image from appearing, but done enough times, it becomes automatic, for any given image, and I do not even have to exert conscious energy to make it happen, it just does.
As always, this is just one technique of many, and for serious and persistent problems, professional help should be sought. But the bigger picture messages are:
- We don’t always know ahead of time what the universe is really saying to us or trying to teach us, so go with the flow, and embrace all your guests, they are all guides of one type or another.
- The more we practice kindness, compassion, and love to others and ourselves, the more we will experience it.
Let kindness, compassion, and love bloom in your heart, towards all the guests in your house.
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