the guest house
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 are 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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
If you’re a yogi, you’ve heard this poem a few times. It remains one of my favorites because it gives us permission to surrender and embrace our shadow. We are often shamed and criticized for having emotions and responses that are not socially pretty. So we try to tuck away these behaviors and avoid their meaning in our lives. From a western perspective, depression is something to avoid - to snap out of - to get rid of asap. When in reality, experiencing depression can offer us so much depth and guidance if we’re able to slow down, listen, and work through it in a safe space. Welcoming our shadow and finding ways to dismantle the power our fear holds over us can transform our relationship with ourselves and therefore our ability to relate and connect with others. We all have undesirable thoughts and behaviors. Take some time to think about how you react when these come up. Maybe you distract yourself or criticize your behavior. Working to notice this response without judgement may give you some space to eventually make change if that’s your goal.