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Hold a poem in your body. Monday June 24, 2013

A lovely musing that. Rick Benjamin, a poet and lecturer at the institute of Contemplative Studies based at Brown University in the US, suggests that it doesn't matter what the poem is as long as it's a poem you love. He exudes: "Something extraordinary happens when you hold a poem in your own body, your own mind. It's a transfer of one thinker to another."

Is this just an intellectual, mind-stretching exercise then or can it benefit our emotional and mental health? Absolutely it can!

Take a few minutes to meditate on a poem at a ponderous pace and it can distill all the excess chatter of our mind. Read it out loud. Let the assonance, the music, the rise and fall of the poem seep through you like water through ground coffee beans. Don't feel intimidated if you are not entirely sure of it's meaning. Read it again. Slowly. Really feel it.

It can be difficult to find ways of quietening the mind; calming the heart. Could holding a poem inside you body be such a way?

I'd love to expand on this theme but maybe if I waffle less you'll go peruse a poem.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Comments Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 9:00am

Hey, you inspired me to write a "Walking Poem"!!
It's called, "Step-By-Step"

I pace my way
At work
..At rest
...At play
.....Each day

When I change my pace
I change the way I face
Each challenge
I manage

When I set my pace
I also set my face:
Taking control
Of parts of the whole

And those ‘parts’
Make a difference;
Changing something
Changes everything

I set my pace
Moving forwards
Towards a better place

Anonymous Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 9:43am

I've held a poem in me since I did my A level English Lit. Its called The Child Stares At The Stars by Elizabeth Jennings. Reminds me of my place in the world and what's really important.

Andy Jaeger Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 9:48am

Oh, I couldn't agree more with this. Poetry can be an incredibly powerful mood altering substance! One of my favourite collections is "Ten poems to change your life", edited by Roger Housden, and I thought I'd share the first one. It came into my life about 10 years ago at a point of deep depression and confusion, and it gave me the courage to make changes to deal with some of my unhappiness:

THE JOURNEY by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheet of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

Anonymous Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 9:49am

Apologies it's actually called 'The Child In the Night' :)

Suzy Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 10:26am

Hey Lexi, I LOVE your poem! Your sharing it with us touched me. So thank YOU for inspiring ME m'lady ;o)

Suzy Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 10:33am

I'm going to print off The Journey and The Child in The Night and secure a goodly few moments during a quiet part of the day to read them at a ponderous pace. Thank you so much for sharing!

Julia Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 11:41am

What a wonderful poem.

Anonymous Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 12:07pm

Love this poem, especially parts of the whole...

Jenny Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 1:07pm

thank you for this most wonderful post. Can I suggest a book by Kim Rosen "Saved by a Poem". Inspired by this book and accompanying cd I learned some poems by heart , repeating them out loud in the car, wherever and whenever I felt the need - enormously uplifting and calming for my mind. Google "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott, as inspiring as Mary Oliver's "The Journey" above.

Emma Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 4:12pm

"What is this life, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty's glance,
and watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can,
enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."

William Henry Davies.

This is one of my favorite poems, it reminds me that life is full of wonder but it passes by so quickly. We have to take time for ourselves every now and then, just a few minutes out to appreciate the little things in life and to take a break for ourselves instead of rushing around so hectically and letting it all pass by. But at the same time, to grab life and make the most of it.

Suzy Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 5:26pm

Kim Rosen's book is now safely placed on my "books to buy" list. Thank you Jenny. Always in need of saving me. :o)

Anonymous Mon, Jun 24th 2013 @ 11:16pm

Hi Suzy

In some way you describe, through the exploration of the music of poetry, music therapy, which brings calm to the mind and body. Lovely article.


fionaran Tue, Jun 25th 2013 @ 8:33am

Lots of memorable poetry. One of my favourites is Ben Okri; Letter to an English friend in Africa.

Anonymous Tue, Jun 25th 2013 @ 10:25am

Oh yes, "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott is wonderful!

Anonymous Tue, Jun 25th 2013 @ 12:56pm

Thanks for this Suzy. So true. Reading them, carrying them with you, writing your own - very therapeutic. And I love all the comments too!
I'd recommend The Poetry Cure ed. by Julia Darling and Cynthia XX (can't remember her name sorry!). Julia Darling had cancer and writes so well about dealing with hospitals and doctors - with such humour too! Tue, Jun 25th 2013 @ 7:15pm

One does need daily encouragement, and I have you both saying kind words... makes my world a better place; thank you!!

Anonymous Tue, Jun 25th 2013 @ 10:43pm

I also find writing poetry an excellent way to vent and document my ups and downs. I have a webpage of mostly devotional poetry, and other things that well up from the depths.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 26th 2013 @ 10:34pm

Jennings seems to have quite some time pondering the night sky. Her poem 'Delay' comparing the years star light takes to reach us with the working of love is one I've always remembered since hearing it read on the radio years ago.

by Elizabeth Jennings

The radiance of the star that leans on me
Was shining years ago. The light that now
Glitters up there my eyes may never see,
And so the time lag teases me with how

Love that loves now may not reach me until
Its first desire is spent. The star's impulse
Must wait for eyes to claim it beautiful
And love arrived may find us somewhere else.

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