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How to Welcome Unpleasant Guests

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

During the holidays many visitors come and go. Some we may wish could stay longer, others may leave us feeling heartbroken they didn't show up, and there may be others that we wish had never arrived.

How do we deal with a mix of pleasant and unpleasant visitors?

The core teachings of iRest® and other mindfulness practices would have us welcome them all. They are there so why not welcome them?

When we do not accept life as it is, or ourselves as we are, or when we wish our experience to be other than it is we fight with reality. And when we fight with reality we always lose. Reality always wins.

I was thinking about this on my run this morning. It was not pleasant. The wind was howling, tiny bits of ice (not beautiful fluffy snowflakes) were pelting my face, and it was gray, cold and bleak. I noticed myself grumpy. Then a friend going through chemo came to my mind and how she can’t just turn around and go home because she doesn’t like the cancer. Her strength and grace shifted my perspective to gratitude for my ability to go out for a run. It’s just weather, to fight with it is futile. I pulled my hood up, along with the corners of my mouth, and propelled my self down the trail with renewed effort and a desire to find harmony with my environment. I noticed my dog seemed to have this mastered, as she appeared impervious to the weather.

Practicing welcoming, paying attention to, meeting and greeting, and noticing what does and doesn’t feel harmonious helps us to align with our inner compass. When we can attune to our inner compass (rather than search outside of ourselves for answers) we can more easily perceive physical, mental and emotional obstacles before bumping into them. This may dissolve those obstacles or allow a clear path to emerge for us to navigate our way over, under, around or through them with a sense of integrity and grace.

Welcoming things as they are, life just as it is, and ourselves just as we are can lead to spontaneous transformation wherein we relinquish all attempts to change the world or our beliefs about how things ‘should’ be. In Welcoming we live in harmony with life. We love ourselves as we are and life as it is.

In our meditation practice, welcoming is to abide in nonjudgmental presence and simply allow whatever arises in our mind. With this practice we learn that welcoming is not an extra something we do. Rather, it is an essential aspect of being human.

Through this compassionate welcoming we develop connection with all parts of our Self and begin to live authentically. There is trust in who we are and what we do - and this belonging with ourself flows into a connection with others. As we live life fully and with an undefended heart we develop a sense of belonging in the world. This intimacy with ourself and others empowers us to live life to its fullest potential.


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

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