The Guest House–A Mindfulness Exercise
There’s a mindfulness exercise I like to do with my clients. I didn’t come up with it. It’s been around for awhile. In fact, it’s based on a Persian poem from the 13th century (Rumi).
The idea for this exercise is pretending that your inner world is a house with many rooms. Gathered outside is a group of guests (emotions), and when you are ready, you can open the doors and let them inside.
Any emotion is welcome. Simply take note of who shows up today.
Any guest is welcome–anger, joy, sadness, fear, peace, envy, gratitude…whomever is there. Simply take note of who shows up today.
As the guests settle into the space, take a moment to greet them by name. Let them know they aren’t being rushed. And then step into the background, observing them with curiosity. What do they do? How do they interact? Are they bossy or disruptive? congenial? Are they hogging all the snacks?
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Notice any feelings that pop up, noting that this is your pretend house, and you can open the door and allow your guests to leave at any time. Similarly, you can always come back and observe the guests when you feel ready.
When you feel it’s time for the visit to end, simply open the door and allow your guests to leave, noticing how it feels as your house begins to clear out.
Using our imagination like this allows us to notice and name all of our emotions, which is a large part of acceptance. It can be a playful exercise, as well, helping us to feel less overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and watch the characters. It’s like your own version of Disney’s Inside Out.
If you find this visualization helpful, you might enjoy my Wind Down Wednesdays. We do a lot of visualizations in those sessions.