Learning how to sit

I have a book of Rumi poems sitting on my bookshelf. When I first moved in and had a meltdown, I opened the book and turned to this poem, which was exactly what I needed to hear at the time:

The Guest-House
by 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 it’s 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 was complaining to a friend the other day that I don’t know how to “sit in my feelings.” Why doesn’t anyone ever teach you how to sit in your shame, sorrow, and malice? But then you go to therapy and they repeat the line over and over as if you’re supposed to know what it means.

I feel like this poem is explaining how to sit. The secret is to “meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.” Still working on the laughing part, but I’m slowly learning to open the door.



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