Embracing all your emotions
A very short (for me) blog today based on a poem by Rumi.
Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet, mystic and spiritual teacher.
Colman Barks wrote that Rumi wants us to be more alive, to wake up. He wants us to see our beauty, in the mirror and in each other.
He’s the type of guy who is overflowing from quotes websites.
Here is The Guesthouse.
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.
Translated by Coleman Barks
Read it again. Really take in his words.
Your emotions as a visitor
The meaning of the poem is a pillar of mindfulness. It is awareness, acceptance and openness to our whole selves, as we are in a particular moment.
As humans, we all get the privilege of emotions.
And there are so many that we get to feel. Lots are amazing and lots feel really shitty as well.
The amazing ones we try to find everywhere and seek them out in people and activities.
The shitty ones? Avoid these obviously.
We’re scared of them. Like real scared. Avoiding negative emotions is something we’re very good at.
But, as Rumi so beautifully puts it, we should be open to all emotions and welcome them in. Our body, our mind, is our home and we can greet every emotion like a guest.
Especially the negative ones.
Why am I (in a much less beautiful way) telling you that you should feel shit?
Well, it’s inevitable that sometimes you will. So when you do, I want to encourage you to feel all your feels and not to be scared of them.
An emotion is just a sensation in your body, caused by your thoughts about something in your life. They do not need to be overwhelming and you do not need to avoid them.
If you are feeling sad, then please just feel sad.
Sadness is nothing to be scared of and, like with every emotion, once you open up to it, you give yourself the opportunity to learn about it.
Why am I feeling sad? What am I thinking about the world and myself?
What does sad really feel like right now? How does it feel in my body?
What does sad feel like. Being aware of the physical sensations of an emotion is important. Often we avoid feeling negative emotions because we think they’re painful.
Uncomfortable would be the better word. When you really break down every physical sensation of sadness or fear or anger, they are just uncomfortable.
The discomfort might be in your chest or belly. It might prickle over your skin or bring heat to your head.
But this in itself is nothing for us to be scared of.
It is nothing you cannot be with and it will not last forever.
Because nothing in life is permanent.
No thought you have ever had has lasted forever and no emotion either. They ebb and flow from our bodies, some more quickly than others.
So if you are scared of letting yourself feel, have reassurance that the feeling is not permanent, it will pass when you are ready and it is there for a reason.
If you are open to letting yourself feel all of it with understanding, you give your mind the chance to process why you are really feeling this way.
This is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. Once you get to the core of why you’re feeling like this, which will be centred in your thoughts, you can work through it.
You can clear it fully and move forward with more awareness about yourself. You are also building the ability to handle this emotion when it arises again.
In a way, you are writing each emotional visitor in your guest book.
After a while you’ll have a big book of emotional knowledge.
This is not like that time you made a New Years resolution to read more so ordered five 2018 bestsellers off Amazon which are having a very lonely time on your bookshelf.
This book on you will be picked up often and added to with each visitor you have.
This book is a story of your resilience and self-awareness. It will be full of lessons.
I want to be very clear that doing this is not a free pass to wallow. You are not hosting a pity party for one.
This emotion is here for a reason and you need to work out what that reason is.
Instead of giving your energy to resisting the emotion, give your energy to understanding that emotion more. Just ask why.
Talk to your guest and understand why it’s visiting. Be polite.
And don’t beat yourself up for letting it in. Have compassion for yourself always.
It is better to allow every emotion into your home. Sit with them and give them some of your time. They could be an easy guest that just stays for a little while and leaves again or they could be wilder and consume your home, shaking it up.
But know that they will pass and from it, you will have learnt something about yourself, processed something you needed to and be better at dealing with the emotions you experience in the future.
Next time a negative emotion comes knocking, have the courage to let it be and see what happens.
Be open to your feelings of discomfort and investigate deeper into your emotion with courage, curiosity and kindness.
And be grateful for your guests. They are all teachers.