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Acknowledge your emotions as honored guests

In the final days of 2020, Help & Hope Southcoast shared a post on the lessons we had learned about mental health and wellness during the chaotic year.

My lesson evolved slowly over the year as I became aware of how much calmer I am when I pause during my day and notice what I’m feeling. I learned (and am still learning) the benefits of paying more attention to my experience in the moment - how I’m feeling right now - and letting it all be okay.

It means accepting my feelings just as they are — not discounting them, or obsessing over them. Just allowing them to be.

It means when I hit my yoga mat in the morning, I don’t shape my practice around what I did the week, or the day, before, but start anew each morning, wherever I am.

Some days I’m eager to move and ready to push my boundaries just a little further. Other days, it means poses that had been easy suddenly feel too overwhelming, and I might just lie in child’s pose for the entire class.

Both are okay.

In the past, I’ve always looked for each day to build on the previous one. I’ve always pushed for continuous improvement in my thoughts and actions. So letting myself show up as I am in the moment without judgement is a new step for me.

It’s one I’ve found support for in the yoga classes of Adriene Mishler. Anyone who follows Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel will know what I mean. The popular internet yoga teacher has been leading a 30-day yoga journey every January since 2014 and now has thousands of followers all around the world.

Her approach is about showing up for yourself wherever you are. Listening to your own inner wisdom first and letting everything flow from there.

Adriene recently shared a poem by Rumi in one of this month’s yoga practices - appropriately themed Breath - which perfectly captures where I’d like to be in my life. Rumi writes with such understanding of humanity’s frailty and flaws, as well as our greatness, and in this poem, The Guest House, invites each of us to open our door each morning and wholeheartedly greet whoever is requesting entry.

This doesn’t mean we are bound by who “they” are, whether they are big, beautiful emotions like joy and love, or seemingly “unacceptable” ones like depression or anger, just that we acknowledge and accept them and the gifts they bring.

Rumi expresses it beautifully in his poem below.

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.

The Guest House, by Rumi

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