14 June, 2011

My Guest House

Today was a challenging day for me. It started out normally enough, if a bit more singed with fatigue than usual. As I was waking I was gifted with a call from my beautiful Sister. That part was nice. But I should have noticed that something was 'off' when I was having difficulty expressing how excited I was to hear from her.

I started a new (simple) yoga practice last night. I am committing to a simplified form of the Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation) in the evenings before bed and an equally simple version of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) in the mornings upon waking. (I only write this now, in case I forget later.)

So ... back to my story .. I completed my morning Surya Namaskar practice. It felt really good to be moving my body in these familiar ways again. But I was still feeling uncharacteristically sluggish. As I arrived in the dining hut for breakfast, several of the newer friendly faces were there to greet me: Australian Louisa, Argentinian Mariano, British Sam, as well as a new fellow from Brazil whose name escapes me right now. Normally I have been engaging in conversation with these folks over breakfast, and it's been really nice. But, today, for some reason, I felt totally unable (unwilling?) to engage. Mr. Pathom's helper, Three, brought out a Thai breakfast instead of the simple noodle soup I'd requested for my ongoing morning meals. (This was not his fault. I think Mr. Pathom has a really hard time serving me the same boring dish every day. He's an excellent chef, so I can understand, but, right now I just can't seem to tolerate that kind of food in the morning.) So, I had a few bites, made some mumbly small talk, and then lamely excused myself by saying I was running late. (I was not.) I was starting to feel some kind of unnamed anxiety about being around people today. But being unnamed, I couldn't really place what the feeling was ... it was just kind of a vague, blurry awareness of something 'icky'. It was almost as if I had walked through a cobweb of negative energy, and, try though I might, I wasn't able to shake it off my fingers. So ... this is how my day began.

I continued about my morning ... walked toward school ... stopped in the Satva Yoga Cafe for breakfast where Charlye, Eugenie and I had arranged to meet. I was the first of us to arrive, so I sat down and ordered a Lemon Mint Honey Ginger juice. (Tukta, the proprietress, makes amazing fresh juices.) Despite the deliciously frothy and effervescent glass of liquid sunshine Tukta brought me, I was still feeling gray and cloudy. Although, I don't think, at this point, I was fully aware of what was happening yet. Once Charlye and Eugenie arrived, we started chatting, and I found myself re-entering a mini-rant about school that I'd already laid on Eugenie the afternoon prior. It was then that I really realized that something was amiss. I was grumpy. In fact, I wasn't just grumpy, I was feeling kinda angry. And the more I sat with and studied my feelings, the more irate I became. As the light bulb erupted over my head, I relayed the information aloud to my companions. That helped to subdue it a little. Just naming it, I guess, was comforting enough to calm it a little. I acknowledged my feelings. (A solid Step 1.) Eugenie and Charlye were great at both receiving the information and not trying to help me "get happier". (Thanks for that, ladies.) That being the case, I was able to create a sort of space or inner container for those feelings that I hoped would allow them to exist and breathe and be honoured, but would keep them from spontaneously leaping out at some poor unsuspecting (and undeserving) bystander.

As the three of us conversed further over breakfast, I realized that I was feeling a HUGE resistance to going to school today. I didn't really know why, but I DID NOT want to go. That, in turn, made me believe that the best thing for me to do would be to go. This may sound completely ridiculous to many of you reading this, but I often feel that the things (or people) that push our buttons the most are usually the teachers of the lessons we most need to learn.

This is where things got even weirder. Charlye, Eugenie and I were late getting to school. (We got our food a little later than planned, and decided to enjoy breakfast rather than rush back for the morning group exercising.) That was actually a good thing ... for me, at least. Because once our lesson began, my anger began to mutate. It was happening in a simultaneously super slow motion and lightning quick action. (If you think it's freaky to read that, just imagine how bizarre it was to experience it.)

Before I could wrap my head around what was happening, my heart whispered to me that she was going to send me some sadness now.

And, so she did.

I became suddenly overwhelmed with sadness. It was powerful, yet it was soft and unassuming, as well. I tried to internally hold myself in my own space while, externally, I was listening to lecture, watching demonstration and taking notes. When it was time to practice the day's lesson, I asked my partner, Roberto, if I could receive the work first, and, fortunately, he agreed. (Roberto is a very kind man. I like him a lot.) During the practice session, I began to cry a little on several occasions. It was very soft and quiet, this crying ... unusual for me ... I would just every now and again feel my cheeks getting wet with tears. Then, almost as suddenly as it had arrived, Sadness departed. Then I was just tired.

I made it through the day, and it was not altogether unpleasant. It was more an interesting experience in awareness to witness this emotional purging. My body has been in detox for a little while now. My subconscious released its toxic debris through all that violent and vivid dreaming last week. Now, it seems my old unexpressed emotions are clearing out. I do feel lighter now as I prepare for my evening yoga and bed. I feel as if the fires of Anger burned up old negative energies lingering inside my body's nooks and crannies. Then Sadness came through and washed out the remains with her salty waters. Now I feel, well, still tired (emotional clearing is exhausting work!), but very light.

As I reflected on the day's experiences, I was reminded of Rumi's amazing poem, The Guest House. I re-read it just before I wrote this post, and it spoke very clearly and directly to my heart, so I have posted it below to share it with you. I hope you get from it what you need.

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'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.

~ Rumi ~

PS: More mundane adventures to come soon ... including: my first time cutting open a coconut; my first attempts at making young coconut water kefir and kefir yogurt (in an ill-equipped guest room); making dinner in a makeshift kitchen with limited tools; and, in the not-so-distant future, my first Thai colonic! (Stay tuned ...)


  1. What a wonderful blog post, and a wonderful Rumi poem, which I will refer to often. I am so enjoying reading about your adventures!

  2. Thanks, Patty. Ironically, I went to your blog just a couple days ago and read a few of those entries. Very beautiful! You are a natural storyteller. Hope you are well, and keeping Durham in line!