The Guest House
Yoga has become an important spiritual discipline in my life and I find that not only has it stretched my body over the years, but more profoundly it has stretched my spirit. Several years ago one of my yoga teachers said, “Whatever you resist in life, it will prove to persist in life.” Whether it’s the physical pain of tight hamstrings or the spiritual pain of untended pasts, fractured relationships, or hidden fears. If ignored, they haunt you, they lessen your joy, they keep you from being the best version of yourself. We are wired to run from pain. And yet, the harder we try to escape it, the greater it’s hold over us. Instead, with courage, breath, and prayers, we must journey out to the edge of whatever it is that has the lighted threads of our spirit tangled and knotted, and seek to mend. Often it’s our fear about a situation whether of body or spirit that is far worse than the actual pain and suffering itself. Joseph Campbell once said, “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”
The only way to truly live free, in peace, and in hope is to accept that we were never guaranteed a life gratis of pain and suffering. But we were given resilient spirits. And promised that there would be no mountain, valley, or molehill that we would ever have to face on our own. A resilient spirit requires courage, perseverance, and faith in Something larger than ourselves and our suffering. And I might add, a sense of humor proves a trusty friend! Following is a poem by Rumi that was given to me by a fellow yogi and it has changed the way I handle the roller coaster experience of being human. With as much grace and muscle as I can muster, I try to be a welcoming host to life in all of its joys and sorrows with a resilient spirit!
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.
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