A group of teens from the James Baldwin high school for “students at risk” listened to a teacher at Integral Yoga teach talk about the connection between mind and body. She told them that the mind is like a body of water and explained that if we do not allow our emotions to flow, then the ‘lake’ becomes stagnant with algae, microbes, and all sorts of things growing there. It becomes impure.
She read them the poem The Guest House by Rumi:
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.
The teacher went on to say that just like a guest, we can welcome each of our emotions. Each day when we awaken, we have a new ‘guest’—maybe anger, joy, sorrow or fear. Whatever it is, just like a guest, we welcome them, but we also expect them to go at the proper time. It is not natural for them to stay too long. If we suppress our feelings or stay stuck in them too long, our minds become stagnant which can give rise to disease. The class was encouraged to breath in fresh air and imagine letting go of any emotions that might be toxic.
I was happy to hear students were getting health credits in learning about the interconnectedness of emotional and physical health while given skills for maintaining each (the week before they learned ways of communicating that respected their own needs and feelings as well as those of others). More details next week on the “non-violent communication” they learned as a way to keep the mind like a fresh and clean ‘lake’.