The Guest House

Purpose: How to make friends with your emotions.

The Guest House is the place to come to when you are experiencing an overwhelming emotion. To allow it to express itself because it has something important to tell us.

Every emotion is a compound of a bodily sensation and a cognitive thought. This technique starts at the body level, when we sit and feel the sensation, and then progresses to the mind, by recording what comes up, what the body wants us to know. These actions—first sitting and meditating and then writing, help metabolize the experience and to gain insight to its energy and wisdom.

Inspiration: 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.

Jelaluddin Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks

Copyright 1997 by Coleman Barks. All rights reserved.
From The Illuminated Rumi.


United we Stand; Divided we Fall

Uniting emotions connect us to all aspects of ourselves and to others. Divisive emotions separate us from others and ourselves.  What we practice at the Guest House is welcoming any and all that arise, and they all will. We are each a garden variety human being.  Each one is part of us, and has something to tell us.


Uniting Emotions

When we feel these, we are connecting to ourselves and others.

Abundant, Accepting, Adoring, Anticipatory, Appreciated, Appreciative, Authentic, Balanced, Calm, Cherished, Clear, Compassionate, Complete, Confident, Connected, Curious, Eager, Ecstatic, Empathetic, Encouraged, Energetic, Enough, Free, Friendly, Generous, Gentle, Genuine, Grateful, Happy, Healed, Healthy, Hilarity, Holy, Honest, Hopeful, Humorous

Innocent, Interested, Joyful, Laughter, Liberated, Light, Love, Loving, Loving-kindness,

Nakedness, Motivated, Open, Open-heartedness, Passionate, Patient, Peaceful, Present, Protected, Protective, Satisfied, Soft, Spontaneous, Surfeit, Tender, Tolerant, True, Trusting, Unafraid, Unconditional, Untroubled, Unified, Vulnerable, Wanted, Wise, Worthy, Whole


Divisive Emotions

When we feel these, we are separating from our own true nature and from others.

When these emerge, they erode affection and self-esteem.

Abandonment, Comparison of self to others, Feeling dismissed, Jealousy, Pride, Self-pity, Despair, Shame.

Can we foster compassion for ourselves?


When we feel these, we want to be in control and exert power.

Resentment, Anger, Rage, Bitterness, Malice, Lust, Irritation, Guilt, Cynicism, Hatred, Overwhelmed.

Can we know we are enough, have enough, do enough?


These undermine our feeling of safety and security.

Fear, Greed, Anxiety, Worry, Paranoia, Panic, Doubt, Betrayal.

How can we find our own inner stability?



Close your eyes:  Imagine your body as Rumi’s Guesthouse, it’s doors and windows thrown wide open.  A feeling enters. Observe the sensations and thoughts as the emotion dances through your mind and body. Let it express itself as it wants. Let it dance as long as it needs to.


Write: Now, in two or three sentences describe the emotion, the event that triggered it, and the context in which it has arisen.


Close your eyes:  Where is the sensation?  Is it in your belly? Shoulders? Brain? Stay with the feelings.


Write: What comes to your mind? What thoughts, images, memories?  Write them down.


Where does this lead?

Review your writing.  Is there a new thought, image, or question that comes to you now that you have reviewed your Guest House?