Life is a Guesthouse

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).

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The Guest HouseΒ byΒ 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.

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36 thoughts on “Life is a Guesthouse

    • it does, once you can take that point of view it seems the only thing to do with all those disturbances that we used to try to avoid … just welcome them in for tea and chat as richard said to us last week πŸ™‚

  1. Inspiring poem. “…each has been sent as a guide from beyond” is a great message. Thank you so much for sharing, Christine!
    500th, Congratulations!

    • thanks to you too chris, your poetry is outstanding, always takes me into being, into awareness … we all need encouragement not to slip back into the mistaken sensation of separateness πŸ™‚

  2. 500 posts is terrific. Great poem and photo to celebrate this accomplishment. Thanks for your likes and comments on my blog, too.
    All the best for the next 500 posts! Ruth

  3. This is really a beautiful concept. And the poem is so rich! I know I would very much enjoy a iRest yoga nidra training. The teaching isn’t too far from what I’ve been generally absorbing through my hatha yoga classes, but there’s an intentionality in your experience that I haven’t had access to, as of yet. You’ve definitely inspired me to dig a little deeper, though. I will be thinking about myself as a guest house for all feelings and emotions. This is quite a rich thinking! πŸ™‚

    • you know debra, i was practising this and still did not really get it until this training … i think the key was to sit with the discomfort and feel the bodily feelings, and allow myself to follow the imagery (that feels like ….) and to imagine as I invited it in that it looked like ??? that (one was a grenade) and ask it what it wanted, what it needed, and what action i should take … which might include actually doing something … so, listening, listening. listening!

  4. Christine, I had to share this with you… in meditation this morning, I moved my breath into chakras, which is something I haven’t done for a long time. When I was done, I pulled out a book that I haven’t looked at for a number of years, “Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism” by Lama Anagarika Govinda. In flipping through it, the first sentence that I read was, “The invisible channels and subtle vessels, serving as conductors of the forces, which flow through the human body, are called “nadir”… as we mentioned already.”
    This after you introducing yoga nidra, just last night! It is an amazing and multi-layered world indeed.

    Chris

    • like russian dolls chris, when we start to unpack something it has so many layers and openings πŸ™‚ i studied dzogchen buddhism for some years, i really resonate with so much of that colourful imaginative tibetan world view … now you might like to try a simple yoga nidra …

  5. Well done on the 500th post – 300th for me. But I suspect yours have more spiritual meaning and awareness, for which you should be justifiably proud πŸ™‚ I suspect that my guesthouse is a very rumbustous place πŸ˜‰ Keep up the good work, especially those nature images and the descriptive naratives of native religious belief – I too learn so much from your blog… I’m just not so good at expressing it πŸ™‚

  6. What a lovely post for your 500th!! Congratulations Christine! I have yet to try Yoga Nidra. Shall hopefully get there someday πŸ™‚

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