Barbara has recently had a family bereavement and will not be working until November.


Poems

Poetry is a powerful way to connect with the heart of the experience of Mindfulness. I use poetry often in my teaching and here are a few of the many that touch me. They offer a deep sense of this path that we are all on together.

May they inspire you and bring you closer to the wonder of living a mindful and compassionate life.

Upon Westminster Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear

The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth

 

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

Breathe

Stress hooks its claws into the brain
creating false truths and unreal realities
to confuse, to assault, to breaking point
There's no refuge in the past or future
The only answer? Breathe.

When thoughts spiral out of control
like a jet plane on a fatal collision course
there's no respite and no saving grace.
When even sleep becomes a banned destination,
look to the place of salvation. Breathe.

Anxiety can build and surge in a flood
overwhelming rational ideas and calm.
Depression throws its hooks into the mind
and drags thoughts into the mud.
The perfect antidote? Breathe.

Focus. Not on the unchangeable past or on the unknown mist of the future
but on the now. The moment. Your breath.
Let it bring the calm that's desperately needed.
The final answer? Breathe.

Alistair HMP Dumfreis

Awakening Now

Why wait for your awakening?

The moment your eyes are open, seize the day.

Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?

Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled?

“No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast.

“I’m not worthy” I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure.

I’m not perfect, and surely I haven’t practiced nearly enough.

My meditation isn’t deep, and my prayers are sometimes insincere.

I still chew my fingernails, and the refrigerator isn’t clean.

“Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?

Forgive yourself.

Now is the only time you have to be whole.

Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self.

Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.

Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.

This is the day of your awakening.

Danna Faulds

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you were alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mentor of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

David Whyte

Always we hope

Always we hope

someone else has the answer.

some other place will be better,

some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.

no one else has the answer.

no other place will be better,

and it has already turned out.

 

At the centre of your being

you have the answer;

you know who you are

and you know what you want.

There is no need

to run outside

for better seeing.

Nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the centre of your being;

for the more you leave it, the less you learn.

Search your heart

and see

the way to do

is to be.

Lao Tsu

Dreaming the Real

I’m lying down looking at the colour

of sky falling through trees, dreaming

the real, tasting what it feels like to love it.

Why did it take me so long to let go, simply

exhale, so the day could breathe itself in

and open without me standing in the way?

How could I forget the grace of my own body

strong as this blue, tender as the white

of the wild blossom, warm as midday light?

Let me practice a patience bold enough

to hold every weather, trusting the elements,

the beauty of rain, all it shades of grey.

 I want whatever’s real to be enough. At least

it’s a place to begin. And to master the art

of loving it; feel it love me back under my skin

 Linda France

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Shadow and Light Source Both

How does a part of the world leave the world?
How does wetness leave water?

Don’t try to put out fire by throwing on
more fire! Don't wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run, your shadow
keeps up. Sometimes it's in front!

Only full overhead sun diminishes your shadow.
But that shadow has been serving you.

What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is
your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.

I could explain this, but it will break the
glass cover on your heart, and there's no
fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

When from that tree feathers and wings sprout on you,
be quieter than a dove. Don't even open your mouth for
even a coo.

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

The Bud

  the bud

  stands for all things,

  even for those things that don't flower,

  for everything flowers from within, of self-blessing;

  though sometimes it is necessary

  to reteach a thing its loveliness,

  to put a hand on the brow

  of a flower,

  and retell it in words and touch,

  it is lovely

  until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing

 

  Galway Kinnell

 

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