Treat Your Thoughts as Honored Guests

I read this poem in the waiting room of a yoga studio in San Antonio, TX. I was fortunate that the hotel hosting a NASO Officiating Conference was located by a quality studio and a tremendous food truck park.

I was struck by Rumi’s idea of treating every thought as an honored guest. Happy, bad, good, evil, inspiring, depressing - the thought does not matter according to Rumi. What matters is your reaction to the thought.

This is not an easy idea to accept, and it is an even harder one to put into daily practice. I don’t think this way all the time, but I am getting better at recognizing my reaction to the thoughts that arrive at my mind’s door. And I try to be a good host.

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.

Jalal al-Din Rumi,

translation by Coleman Barks