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.
Rumi encourages us to open, with equanimity, to what comes to us, whether joy or sorrow. As people and as leaders, we have two choices: to face our (sometimes brutal) reality or resist it and ramp up our delusions.
As I evolve my own consciousness as a woman, mother and leader, I want to be a guest house for present moment happenings and feelings, even when they are tough. Yet as much as I want to face reality, I find ways to distract myself. Sometimes I resist strenuously.
There were many magical moments over the holidays where I noticed how grateful and peaceful I was feeling. Being present to these moments and feelings was easy. Sometimes, in the very next breath, I felt sad, angry or a bit despairing. These more difficult feelings would come up as I started ruminating over difficult past events or worrying about current global crises, business challenges or imagined future losses.
Dwelling on the past and projecting into the future are sure ways to come out of present moment awareness. And most of us have developed ways to numb to unpleasant present moment awareness and uncomfortable feelings. Some of us, ahem, fill our schedules to the brim and focus on productivity. Some of us turn overly to work, Facebook, Netflix, food, booze, smoking, or exercise, etc., to avoid them. Even involving ourselves too much in the lives of other people (like friends or kids) can be a way to avoid our reality or feel our feelings.
Full disclosure … through present moment awareness, I recognize I’ve been irritated the whole time I have been writing this post. Despite a sunny window and a hot coffee at hand, I’ve been more focused on how this blog post felt like an unwanted guest taking up my mindshare over the holidays as a flip-flopped on a topic and my thoughts. I have made the whole thing a bad experience when really it is neither good nor bad, it just is.
And so, my commitment to myself on present moment awareness is to embark on Michael Brown’s The Presence Process for the next 10 weeks. His book, which details his guided process, comes highly recommended by my Montreal coach friend and colleague, Monica Callon. I suspect The Presence Process will be challenging for me. I often prefer to be in action (or distraction). Monica and I are taking a strategic time out in March to reflect on our coaching, our businesses, our lives and our leadership. The Laurentians will be our backdrop.
As I enter into 2017 with hopes and trepidations, I wonder who my guests will be? And I wonder how welcoming will I be in all the moments?