Poetry from Mindfulness Meditation

July 22, 2015

In space flight, "attitude" refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death. In the Soyuz, for example, we use every cue from every available source—periscope, multiple sensors, the horizon—to monitor our attitude constantly and adjust if necessary. We never want to lose attitude, since maintaining attitude is fundamental to success.

In my experience, something similar is true on Earth. Ultimately, I don't determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There's really just one thing I can control: my attitude towards the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.

Excerpt from An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

February 18, 2015

Once a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down. Otherwise,
clouds. Sea rippled here and
there. Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren't strewn all around

Mind Wanting More by Holly Hughes

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line,
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower.

My Hero by Billy Collins

June 25, 2014

Somewhere deep within
there is a
firmer, simpler, warmer
human being.
This human being trusts
this human being accepts both
the limits that give a human dignity,
and the talents that the world awaits.
Somewhere deep within
there is a purpose that cannot be shaken,
a love that no longer fears,
and a wisdom that ennobles life.
This human being is both
the instrument,
and the profound expression
of life.
Author Unknown

June 4, 2014

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Famous by Naomi Shihab Nye

May 21, 2014

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller

March 12, 2014

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice's complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

"How does it taste?" the master asked.

"Bitter," said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the master asked, "How does it taste?"

"Fresh," remarked the apprentice.

"Do you taste the salt?" asked the master.

"No," said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

"The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake."

January 8, 2014

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them,
“Love me.” Of course you do not do this
out loud, otherwise someone would
call the cops. Still, though, think about
this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives
with a full moon in each eye that is
always saying, with that sweet moon
language, what every other eye in this
world is dying to hear?

With That Moon Language, by Hafiz

August 21, 2013

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing

He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
yourself as long as it is interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.

He says keep praying.

He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find
a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive --
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.

He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn't matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn't matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn't matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.

It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.

It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don't be afraid.
Don't be afraid.

Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.

Let life live through you.

Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes

August 7, 2013

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

July 10, 2013

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.

Did you ever stop to think that you can't leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that's handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that's given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that's poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that's poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you're desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that's poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that's given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you've depended on more than half the world.

This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren't going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

Martin Luther King, Jr, 1967

June 19, 2013

Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He'll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he'll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle by Alison Luterman

May 15, 2013

Tree of Life Blessing

May you choose outrageous actions that challenge who you are and encourage who you are becoming.
May you take one step, however small, toward that which you have always longed for.
Now is the “right time.”

May you recognize the unique and powerful contribution that you bring to the people whose lives you touch.
May you be as wonderful as you really are, and do things because you want to, not just because you should.

May you celebrate your creativity and believe that you are an
artist with a unique vision that no one else has.

May you find peace and purpose and possibility amidst the
chaos while remaining aware of the unrest in the world.

May your faith move any mountains that stand in your way
and bring you great teachers to awaken your understanding.

May you give up shame, guilt and self-neglect and replace
them with qualities like freedom, integrity and self-nurturing.

May you passionately and deeply love and be loved
by someone who can see who you really are.

May your body speak to you and teach you how to care for the temple that houses your bright spirit.
May you walk gently on the earth and honor your hearth and family with your action and your rest.
May you find and enjoy the fruit of abundance so that your life path can be fortified and furthered.
May you embrace the Tree of Life and be informed by the wisdom she brings to those on her path.
May LOVE be at the center of all your choices and may you, with me, send this blessing to all beings.

Three words Diane offered to consider as guide posts for living life : Simplify, Widen, Soften

By Shiloh Sophia McCloud


May 1, 2013

Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
a lasting truce with yourself?
Now is the time to understand
that all your ideas of right and wrong
were just a child's training wheels
to be laid aside,
When you can finally live
with veracity and love.
Now is the time for the world to know
that every thought and action is sacred.
That this is the time
for you to compute the impossibility
that there is anything
But Grace.
Now is the season to know
that everything you do
is Sacred.

Now is the time by Hafiz


February 6, 2013

Walk Slowly

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still and just like that,
something in me settles, softens,
makes space for imperfection. The harsh
voice of judgment drops to a whisper
and I remember again that life isn’t a relay race;
that we will all cross the finish line;
that waking up to life is what we were born for.
As many times as I forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I am going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, to be and walk
slowly into the mystery.

Go In and In – Poems from the Heart of Yogaby Danna Faulds

Definition of Mindfulness, from Jon Kabat Zinn:

A particular way of purposefully paying attention to the present moment experience, in a non-judgmental, accepting way.
This has 3 components to it:
Intention:we do this on purpose
Attention: direct awareness to whatever arises in the present moment experience
Attitude: open and non-judgmental stance towards the object of your attention


January 30, 2013

The warriors tame
The beasts in their past
So that the night’s hoofs
Can no longer break the jeweled vision
In the heart.

The intelligent and the brave
Open every closet in the future and evict
All the mind’s ghosts who have the bad habit
Of barfing everywhere.

For a long time the Universe
Has been germinating in your spine
But only a warrior has the talent,
The courage to slay
The past-giant, the future-anxieties.

The warrior
Wisely sits in a circle
With other men and women
Gathering the strength to unmask,
Himself, herself

Then
Sits, giving,
Like a great illumined planet on
The
Earth.

The Warrior by Hafiz

He was a new old man behind the counter,
skinny, brown and eager.
He greeted me like a long-lost daughter,
as if we both came from the same world,
someplace warmer and more gracious than this cold city.
I was thirsty and alone. Sick at heart, grief-soiled
and his face lit up as if I were his prodigal daughter
returning,
coming back to the freezer bins in front of the register
which were still and always filled
with the same old Cable Car ice cream sandwiches and cheap frozen greens.
Back to the knobs of beef and packages of hotdogs,
these familiar shelves strung with potato chips and corn chips,
Stacked – up beer boxes and immortal Jim Beam.
I lumbered to the case and bought my precious bottled water
and he returned my change, beaming
as if I were the bright new buds on the just-bursting-open cherry trees,
as if I were everything beautiful struggling to grow,
and he was blessing me as he handed me my dime
over the counter and the plastic tub of red licorice whips.
This old man who didn’t speak English
beamed out love to me in the iron week after my mother’s death
so that when I emerged from his store
my whole cock-eyed life -
what a beautiful failure ! - br/> glowed gold like a sunset after rain.
Frustrated city dogs were yelping in their yards,
mad with passion behind their chain-link fences,
and in the driveway of a peeling-paint house
A woman and a girl danced to contagious reggae.
Praise Allah! Jah! The Buddha! Kwan Yin,
Jesus, Mary, and even jealous old Jehovah!
For eyes, hands,
of the divine, everywhere.

At the Corner Store by Alison Luterman