Here we are again with Monday’s Mindful Quote. In a famous poem, 13th century Sufi poet Rumi lays down a radical notion about welcoming pain in life, rather than avoiding it to experience emotional freedom. As you read the following poem, remember, the words speak as a guidepost, reminding us which way to go. After the poem, I will introduce you to a practice from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook that you can begin taking into your daily life to work with difficulties (but read the poem first).
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.
–Rumi, “The Guest House”
Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne
Here is a practice excerpted from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook to get started with.
The RAIN Practice
A little later in this chapter, we’ll guide you through a meditation for self-inquiry into stress and anxiety. In the meantime, you can use the acronym RAIN as an informal practice for working with mindful self-inquiry:
R = Recognize when a strong emotion is present.
A = Allow or acknowledge that it’s there.
I = Investigate the body, emotions, and thoughts.
N = Non-identify with whatever is there.
RAIN is an insightful self-inquiry practice that you can bring into your daily life to help you discover deeper threads of what triggers strong emotional reactions. Throughout the next week, bring recognition to any strong emotion and allow it to be present. Investigate what you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally and see where it takes you. The last element, non-identification, is very useful because it helps to deflate the mind’s stories and cultivates the understanding that strong emotions are just another passing mind state and not a definition of who you are. It’s like going to a movie, where you sit back and watch the actors play out the drama. By seeing your story as impermanent and not identifying with it, you’ll begin to loosen the grip of your own mind traps. This will help create the space for you to be with things as they are and deepen your understanding of what drives, underlies, or fuels your fears, anger, and sadness. It also grants you the freedom to look at the situation differently and choose a response other than what may be dictated by your story.
Go ahead and try this out. You can even try it when you’re feeling fine to awaken to the pleasantness of a particular moment.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.