Browsing Tag

finding peace

The Guest House

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches us that avoiding “bad emotions,” or labeling as bad or good at all, is how we begin to create suffering.  Instead it recognizes that pain is a normal part of life that is best accepted and experienced as it comes.  Rather than making a judgement and pushing away bad experiences or emotions, it is suggested that all are welcomed in and accepted.  For many new to Mindfulness, this is a new concept that is difficult to understand.  The poem below is very old and often used in mindfulness training to help explain this concept.


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.
— Rumi

photo credit:  Ian _Windy

The Road to Happiness

“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.”

– Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

I came across this quote recently and saved it because it succinctly states a truth that I face with clients daily.  Every client that comes to my office is with me because they just want to be happy.  Sometimes it is after a divorce or marriage problem that seems impossible to solve.  Others worry and panic to point of not sleeping at all.  Irregardless of the circumstances the effectiveness of whatever avoidance or management technique available has run out and they simple desire help to feel better.

So frequently I am taking on the role of the bearer of the bad news. There is no way to happiness except through your pain and discomfort.  You can continue to ignore pain and discomfort.  Distractions and abound to help us avoid the pain and discomfort of life.  However, freedom from it only occurs after “becoming aware of your mental afflictions.”  Also, this is usually not an easy or comfortable thing to do.

I wish I could share with everyone the feelings of triumph when after several weeks or months of hard work, a client that is ready to get to know their “mental afflictions” makes a breaks through and tells me about how much better they feel.  It would be amazing if others starting the process could experience the tears of joy and a little sadness when I meet with the clients at the end of 1 or 2 years of work.  When they realize that we can’t come up with any more goals, and we talk about all the changes we have seen along the way.  The sadness comes from knowing that you will not see the each other regularly anymore, but at the same time a joyful satisfaction comes as you know someone’s life has been changed for the better.  The feeling is indescribable and unbeatable.  I usually tear up at least a little.

It is these times that I am reminded of how all the hard work and discomfort is worth it.  I only hope some people considering seeking help will read this post and take that first step…and then stick with it when the hard part comes.


photo credit:  Travel by Nature Photography

The Gift of Rest

From nature we learn about balance.  Each of the seasons come every year bringing heat in the summer and cold in the winter and each support the world in their own way.  If it were winter all year long the planet would not flourish.  So it is with us.  There is a season and appropriate time for everything.  Just as there is an appropriate time for movement, work, and production, it is also essential to find time for stillness and rest; a time to be unproductive and do nothing.

This photo was taken by Sarah Sphar after leaving work early to do nothing.

It is important to ask yourself if you are doing too much.  When we don’t listen to our bodies, it is easy to lose touch with your own natural cycles of activity and rest.  Consider tying the following experiment to help you begin to rediscover your natural rest-activity rhythm.

Use your daily schedule and calendar not just to plan activity, but to remind yourself to do nothing.  Why not schedule “do nothing” just like you’d schedule a doctor’s appointment?  It’s very healing to sometimes do nothing, go nowhere, and not have to be “on” for other people.  Doing nothing can take many forms:  You can take a nap, go to bed earlier or get up later, sit in a chair, look out a window, be quiet, or lie down and put your feet up.  Try turning off your phone, computer, and all other electronic devices and just enjoy some time in solitude and non-doing.  You may find yourself noticing the starlit sky or truly enjoying a hot or cold beverage that you typically chug as you rush out the door.  Many find it enjoyable to do nothing out in nature.  Consider planning to spend an afternoon outdoors, hanging out by the ocean, a lake, or a stream, the mountains, a forest, or any quiet, natural environment.  Notice what happens when you just take time to be in these settings.  If you have children, see if you can get a babysitter so you or you and your partner, can take some time to do nothing or experiment with doing nothing with your children.  You may be amazed, but the world won’t fall apart if you take a break. 

Do you find yourself  becoming anxious or tense just thinking about planning to do nothing?  Take a moment to reflect on the obstacles that get in the way of rest for you.  Conversely are there times or situations in which you find it easier to rest?  Perhaps there are simple changes you could make to make it easier for you to rest such as canceling extra activities, asking others to help out around the house, or encouraging others to relax so you can feel more comfortable taking some down time.

Now take a moment to explore any tension in your body, thoughts, or emotions that come up when you think about doing nothing for one afternoon.  Do have worried thoughts, feel guilt, or find this uncomfortable?  Pay attention to these sensations, thoughts, and emotions.  Do you have any idea where they come from?

reference:  A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl PH.D. and Elisha Goldstein PH.D