Mindfully facing our fears and flaws allows us to take action, rather than defend ourselves against them. From Rumi through Coldplay, this concept seems to endure.
[ music ] . Hi, this is Rob Sepich, and welcome to Relaxing with Rob. When we're anxious, it's normal to defend ourselves. Maybe physically, to clench our muscles, keep our breath kind of shallow and rapid. And emotionally, to not let much in because we already have enough to deal with. You know the feeling, when even a broken shoelace feels like a big deal. We all have our limits, and they're not infinite. Back in episode 3, "Tend and Befriend," I spoke about the fight or flight response and a more useful coping approach. Today I'd like to share another alternative to fighting or fleeing. This may be challenging, but I bet you're more equipped to do this than you might think. The writings of Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, are often used in mindfulness contexs. In the Coleman Barks translation of his poem, "The Guest House," he writes that, "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!" The poem goes on to urge us to be grateful for everything, the highs and the lows, and to "meet them at the door laughing, / and invite them in." I like the Indigo Girls, and I wonder if they were influenced by him when they wrote their song, "All That We Let In." They sing of how, "You may not see it when it's stickin' to your skin, but we're better off for all that we let in." More recently in 2015, Coldplay's song "Kaleidoscope" uses the poem, I think, in its entirety. So I guess you could say that after eight centuries, Rumi had a pretty good idea. When I was 18 and lost my dad unexpectedly, I let in an awareness of the impermanence of life. So as a young adult, I didn't really fall into the stereotype of thinking I was invincible. (That's a charge that's often leveled against young people.) When he died, I sure didn't "welcome it at the door," but I gradually made peace with this awareness of impermanence. It strengthened my relationship with my mom, and it gave me an appreciation for life that still influences me. For example, I don't delay expressing gratitude to people, thinking, "oh, there's time for that later." So let me ask right now, what's hard for you to let in? Some fear that creates enough stress that your muscles clench, it's hard to breathe, and you just want to pull the covers back up? Or maybe it's a behavior that you don't like, and pretend it's not really there because it creates too much anxiety to face? Well, if you're up for an experiment, ask yourself what you might be able to let in. Maybe not everything right now, but what can you accept about your life? Can you hold off just a bit of judgment or self criticism, and just welcome some of this awareness? After all, it's just information we're talking about. Facing it can actually reduce anxiety. You might remember in episode 24, "More Control = Less Stress," when I talked about Mountain Pose--being stable and flexible at the same time. That's what I think of physically when I picture The Guest House. For me, it brings some emotional freedom to accept what's happening, which then gives me the ability to act. Otherwise, our energy goes into defending ourselves from something, and that doesn't leave much left for action. So being able to "meet them at the door laughing" might feel a bit unrealistic, but how about just meeting them at the door in a more relaxed state, with our eyes wide open? Thank you for listening, and we'll talk again soon. [ music ]