Welcoming Uncomfortable Emotions

Everyday each one of us faces a myriad of feelings, thoughts and emotions that arise within the strangely miraculous entities we call our body and our mind.

I think that each one of us can admit that we much prefer experiencing the “positive” feelings, thoughts and emotions: you know, the ones that feel good. Many of us try to suppress or ignore those pesky little “negative” thoughts and feelings, but they just don’t seem to go away for long– do they? The conflicts and dissonance within our hearts cannot stay hidden for long, and to many of us this is seen as quite an unfortunate state of affairs.

It would be great if we could be blissful all of the time, forever- right?

However, constant happiness and internal peace is not really the reality that we all live in on a daily basis. So, what if instead of trying to escape the reality that we all currently face, (which is that we all will inevitably feel pain, sorrow, distress, confusion and many more uncomfortable emotions throughout our lifetimes ) what if we instead shifted our perspective to actually welcome these emotions, thoughts and feelings?

It certainly could provide us all with a bit of a breather, wouldn’t it? I mean, it’s hard work always being the gatekeeper of all of your thoughts and feelings. What if you took a day off, or maybe even resigned? I’ve heard this job doesn’t provide good benefits anyways.

I’d like to share with you a beautiful poem by the 13th century Persian poet, Sufi mystic and much more, Rumi. This poem is called 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’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.

I believe that this poem provides us with a beautiful expression of how we all can begin to shift our perspectives in a way that views our emotions, both the painful and the blissful, as respected guests in our house, or rather the body/mind apparatus.

When we begin to loosen our resistance around what we perceive as ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings, we find that there starts to be some space around them and ultimately a release of tension begins to occur. Suddenly, the horrific, dreadful thought that was tying your stomach into knots suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big deal! Why? Because you  acknowledged its presence without attachment and slowly began to accept it.

It’s kind of like the big, bad, scary monster that we all thought lived in our closets as kids; one day, we finally mustered the courage to open the closet door and look inside. What we saw was that the monster really didn’t exist at all: we built it up in our minds.

For myself, I know that with practice, I have begun to open up to and accept many of the uncomfortable emotions and thoughts that pass through me. I have seen their true nature, which is both impermanent and fleeting. Thoughts and feelings come and go just as quickly as they arrived.

So in essence, you cannot prevent these “house-guests” from arriving, so you may as well start treating them with patience, graciousness and welcomeness… before they start breaking shit up in your house! 😉

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