Option 1: Be a Host
This month as we consider what it means to be welcoming, welcome people to your home for lunch, for dinner, or just for coffee and a visit. Think about what you can do to make them feel not just welcome, but included and free to be themselves. But don’t overdo it! It is possible to overwhelm people with hospitality, so that it feels more about your needs then their needs. Hospitality is about accepting people as they are.
How can you be welcoming as you go about your day? What can you do when you are at the mall or on the bus to be welcoming to a stranger? Can you hold a door open? Help someone with directions? Strike up a conversation with a cashier? Looking someone in the eye and smiling may be all the welcome necessary to make a difference to that person’s day.
Option 2: Welcoming the Day
How do you wake up and welcome the day? How we approach our day can impact on how we experience the rest of the day. For this month, try to greet each day with open arms.
When you first wake up, consciously welcome the day. If you wake to alarms and news and begin in a rush, think about ways you can begin the day more kindly. Set your alarm to your favourite music and listen to the news later. Take a few moments to be grateful for the new day. Or if you are slow to get out of bed and get started in the morning, try to get up more quickly. Think of each day as a gift waiting to be unwrapped.
The spiritual practice of welcoming is a practice of hope. It is not always easy, when we have to deal with events and challenges that are painful, but if we can approach the day with openness and welcome, it can help ground us in the midst of difficulty.
Option 3: Imagery Exercise from Spirituality & Practice
The Persian poet Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, provides the core image for this exercise:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning is a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
The intention of this exercise is to experience hospitality. Do this practice each week, and notice how it changes.
Close your eyes. Breathe out three long, slow exhalations.
Hearing a knock on the door of your house, see yourself going quickly to answer it and, without hesitating, opening the door and inviting whoever or whatever is there to come in. Who is your guest? What is your guest doing and saying? Sense and feel how you are welcoming your guest, even if her or she is not expected or acceptable to you.
If a feeling or person that you normally don’t welcome arrives, don’t resist, just let them in. See what gift they might bring, if it feels too unsettling, sit with it awhile and if it is still a struggle, invite them to leave.
Breathe out three times. See yourself sitting at your dinner table with all the seats being filled by strangers — people and other beings. Eating your meal, know that each is bringing you a gift of awareness. What are these gifts? How do you feel?
When you are ready, open your eyes.
Sit with your experience for a few minutes, you may want to write or draw a response.