into the Heart

The Guest House /// dancing with dis-ease

sacred practice, women's healthash smith

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 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.


— Jellaludin Rumi,

This has been and always will be one of my favorite poems by the brilliantly inspired and devotional sufi, Rumi. The words and the energy of this poem have always resonated within me, and each time I visit this poem I fall into it even more deeply. It’s medicine is so strong.

As some of you reading know, I am just now emerging from a debilitating and life changing year of physical suffering. The suffering and fear I experienced within the container of this illness has led me to an inner space of immense spiritual liberation. I knew in my Heart as I was moving through the roughest patches of my pain that I was in the midst of a most precious and truly blessed miracle. I knew that I would be delivered to the space I am in now. I knew that this dis-ease was a ‘guide from beyond’, coming to save me from my own illusion, misunderstanding, and false beliefs.

I was enjoying time with friends the other day, when we started to discuss our health woes. One of the women began to say how angry she had become with her body. How she feels like she is ‘over’ taking care of it, because it doesn’t matter what she does anyways. I could really hear her. I could really feel her. And, having moved through an extended time of illness, where I was trying ‘everything’ and getting ‘no where’, I had such sympathy for where she was at in the process. I lovingly acknowledged her sentiments (because in a very recent time, they had been my own) and kindly introduced a different perspective.

“What if this disease is really on your side?”, I asked her. Now, let’s all take a deep breath and sit with this before I move forward and break it down through the lens of my own personal experience.

11 months ago, when the inflammation, itchies, and ouchies started to visit me and make their homes in different places on my face and upper body, I absolutely felt under attack. Like my own body had turned on me. I obsessively searched outside of myself to find a ‘cure’. I tried everything, I had thought.

I knew that my body was signalling something much deeper, a spiritual wounding, a place within me where I had turned against myself. The red represented unresolved, unexpressed, and disowned anger, pain, and sadness. I won’t get into all of the spiritual lessons that I learned, because they are my own and in sharing they loose potency. They are deep and represent a deeply held belief and pattern that was deeply imprinted into my subtle field and took many months of deep work in clearing it from my Light body to finally experience the shift in my physical body.

Only when the illness was trying it’s hardest to get my attention, when it completely debilitated me. My face was swollen, itchy, and cracking. My body was engulfed in pain and fatigue. My cognitive functioning was at an all time low. Remembering anything, communicating clearly, and knowing what day it was had zero space within my experience. I had no choice but to surrender fully.

Of course, I was scared to stop working and let go of the identity I was clinging to, but I was more scared of what would happen if I continued to ignore the physical signs of dis-ease and forged forward as if everything was okay.

It was in this complete surrender, this time that offered my illness space, that I could start to hear her (my illness, a virus called Epstein-Barr). This is what she said. Dear one, you are tired. you are in pain. you have given your power away and i am here to help you reclaim it. i am here to remind you of who you are. in order to heal, you must listen to me. i am not here to hurt you, sweet one. i am here to help you heal. i am here to bring you into greater purity, authenticity, and alignment. when you move to quickly, i will help you slow down. when you are in the presence of unhelpful energy, i will alert you. when you are not fueling yourself with nourishment that you deserve, i will guide you to what you do.

Once my illness slowed me down enough so that I could here her messages, I was able to finally begin the learning. What I learned is that she loves me. We are not at war. She is actually my biggest ally! She is always here to help guide me. With her, I cannot lie to myself! I cannot lie about what I truly need and deserve in my life.

So, I ask you now, what if your dis-ease is on your side? What if your dis-ease loves you so much, that she is doing everything she can to just get your attention, because she wants to bring you into the deepest state of purity and alignment? What if you took the time to learn the dance of your dis-ease? How can you treat her as a guest and a guide from the great beyond! There is an intelligence within our bodies and within each dis-ease, if we can allow ourselves to shift our perspective, slow down, invite it in, and listen to it’s whispers!