Today in my meditation and mindfulness class, we were told to write our thoughts about a series of poems. This particular poem resonated with me, and speaks to that which I have been avoiding for a few months now: shadow work.
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.
The Guest House - by Jelaluddin Rumi
The lines that struck me most were “meet them at the door laughing and invite them in” and “each has been sent as a guide from beyond”. I believe that everything that has or will occur to me, happens for a reason - even if I am not aware of the reason. Each facet of myself, of my personality, exists for a reason. Those parts of myself that I’m afraid to confront, or that I suppress deep inside me (my “shadows”), can help me in my waking life - but only if I acknowledge their presence, and don’t let them take control over me.
Until now, I’ve been shielded and anxious before these “shadows”: pretty much avoiding anything that could make me think about them or work with them. I’ve been tense and fearful.
This poem has given me one of the keys to beginning the journey down into the underworld of myself. It has given me the imagery of a fancy tea party, where I open the door, laughing, nonjudgmental, to invite each shadow guest to tell me their tales, to tell me why they reside within me, to tell me how they can be of service.
So today, I am grateful that I decided to pursue this class in my medical career, because it is arming me to not only help my patients, but also to help myself.
I can finally confront my shadows.