One of the simple recurring themes of our iRest yoga nidra training was the idea of life as a guesthouse. This comes from a poem by Rumi, in which we are encouraged to invite all our thoughts and feelings into awareness, so that we may learn from them and become better human beings, able to live the life that Life has for us (rather than the life we imagine we should be living).
The Guest House by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi
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.
In practising yoga nidra we spend time being aware of each sheath in turn; first the physical body, rotating attention through each part, then the energy body which we contact by watching the breath. Soon the body begins to feel less solid, more like radiating vibrant energy that extends out around us in all directions. Then we allow attention to move to the emotional body, and notice sensations and feelings …. what messages are they bringing into our guesthouse? Being with feelings encourages them to go through their natural cycle of birth, growth, maturity, decay and death, thus defusing things that might otherwise cause us distress. Similarly we move on to the mind, allowing thoughts and beliefs to enter our guesthouse, to be with them, to explore their opposites, to welcome them in. We naturally move into the sheath of joy or bliss, feeling joy flooding the body and mind … and then we move further, into a sense of being Awareness itself …. no division, just fullness or emptiness, just Awareness, our own true nature.