3-ways-poetry-promotes-health-and-wellbeing

I often write how poetry is a life-savior. But in this particular post I want to dive even deeper in specific ways poetry can help you deal with every day stress and anxiety.

For me, personally poetry is a space, a huge empty room I can fill with anything I want.

Any emotion, fear, anger, desire and love I can put there, observe with care and sort them out. It’s a perfect mechanism to put your feelings under control and actually get freedom to breathe easily again, take off that pressure from your chest. Poem gives you back your voice, your permission to shout, to rebel, to smile! The American poet, Edna St Vincent Millay so beautifully put it in her famous sonnet

 I will put Chaos into fourteen lines And keep him there.

And even those who turn their heads and ears from poetry will still now and then switch on their radio, bang their hands in the rhythm on the stirring wheal and sing along their favorite tune. Aren’t poetry, songs and lyrics very close cousins offering us that immediate relief we look for in everyday life?

Another thing I have observed that poetry offers as a healing component is that many of us reach for literature in hope to find explanation for the things we cannot articulate, express or even understand ourselves. Poet knits a story in his poem ‘as it is’, yet it stays subjective and mono-observant. Still, there’s an inclination, that when we are sad, we are most comforted by sad poems and sad music. Often poetry comes with some sort of solidarity in times of solace where while you read your favorite authors somehow even subconsciously, you validate your own experiences as universal – which  makes acceptance of particular situation  much easier and less volatile. 

Jeanette Winterson, in her book ” Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal” says,

you can use poetry as a light and a laser.  It shows up your true situation and it helps you cut through it.

But also, on the other side of word-spectrum lies different possibility. And with every reading of a poem you are empowering yourself with additional hope and inspiration.

We know this at the most fundamental level as with reading each line we bring forth our own meaning, analyses, forcing us to make new connections among images, events, people and situations. ‘What is’ can be easily transferred to ‘what if’ and there is your healing power. The poem always brings you in the now, in the present moment: that creative pause you steal for your self in the every day routine is an escape from dreadful, petty ordinary things and a gate to inner peace and stillness.

Poetry is the celebration of life. Dark and bright moments – what ever they are, poetry is your companion. It can make you laugh, or even fall in love with yourself like Susana Thenon writes in ‘Nuptial Song’ (about being ‘happily married’ to yourself).

Use poetry as a beautiful distraction in your life instead of indulging in junk food, tabloids and TV realities. That is your safe harbor in the tumultuous time of your every day situations.


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recipe_creativity

If we consider creativity as a purely mental process, its simplest definition would be coming up with new, applicable and valuable ideas. But does that make us creative persons? Or it requires more than that, like maintaining fertile conditions where these ideas can naturally flourish and are easily implemented? Now things are getting a bit complex and interesting.

How does it look like when we apply the aforementioned principle in our daily lives? What constitutes a creative life? Is there a recipe or formula we can follow in order to live more creatively?

If you ask an artist or scientist how their creativity looks like and what do they except, probably we will get different answers. An artist might wish for painting more attractive or expressive pieces and scientist would like to recognize new ways of finding solutions to a problem. As their approaches and work differ a lot, there is one common denominator: going beyond yourself, exploring your own boundaries and capabilities.

In our everyday lives that would mean giving our best in almost any activity we do, in any situation, but also being open to trying new things, experimenting – detached from desired outcome.

In other words, taking risks – being that in crucial moments or in simple decisions we make every day. Being able to take risks develops our ability to deal with uncertainty, ambiguous situations we find ourselves in and learn from them.

Of course, by taking risks I don’t mean being reckless in our decision making, but being open to different approaches, solutions and not being afraid of change – as change in one way or another governs life.

So how you can bring more creativity to your every day life?

Experiment. Try new things – being that food, hobby or just your hairstyle. Move your body – as you move, everything else is moving in you and you are stirring up those creative juices. You are learning about yourself and there is so much more for you to discover. In this post I suggest how being proactively creative you are training your creativity – which is your goal: to easier and faster come up with valuable ideas.

I’m very loud prominent of reading and writing poetry for fostering creativity, as through that process you are getting accustomed to new perspectives, previously unknown connections or unfamiliar realities.

So my recipe for today’s creativity? I’ll just grab a poem for lunch. 🙂

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense

Rumi


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poetry-in-disguise

I can bet that many of you, as a little kid (just as I did) liked to have a small notebook or a diary where you would write your cutest and most intricate secrets – how you hated your lunch or how that boy in the second row always gave you weird looks and laughed at your braces.

And I do believe that even today so far I have never met a real boredom – because I’m always doodling, jotting something down and I find easy ways to amuse myself. That habit of simply recording your thoughts can have a deeper meaning and transfer into something more beautiful and valuable. Today I want to share my experience with that.

I’m a strong advocate for journaling and daily ‘casual’ writing, because if you look at it more clearly, it is a perfect guide and companion: paper can hold on to anything, it is there without any judgment, ‘listening’ and helping you reflect on your daily thoughts, feelings and experiences. I believe that our journal/diary entries can be a great source for poetry writing as it is a simple tool where you express yourself in a variety of ways – writing but also collecting and keeping small memorabilia (like scrap book), photographs, pictures, making interesting collages, vision boards, to do lists, goals and ext.

All that merged with poetry that accentuates language and experience can lead to developing your own little master piece. Any journal entry can be an inexhaustible source to discover poems as journal is a bridge between you and your perception of life. When you start to write, it is adventure for itself as you never know what might happen and where the words will lead you. You might get sudden burst of creative inspiration and from there transform it into the most beautiful poem. There are no barriers, limitations or vocabular sensitivities. You write who you are, in that moment. What I like about having journal as an inspiration for poetry writing is that it allows you to examine questions you probably wouldn’t consider ‘poetical enough’. But there’s the catch: it is a place for openness, no hide and seek games – it’s just you and your real interests, desires, emotions – raw, uncensored.

If you read your writing entries more carefully (and in the title I on purpose used term casual writing instead of journaling because even drawings and doodling can be translated into a poem – many people don’t keep journal per se but like occasionally to write and draw) you can recognize where poetry is well disguised and waits for you to be discovered.

What to look for?

  1. Pay attention to the language.

    Are there any words and sentences that seem more melodical, poetical, that offer sensual rhythm – being that about your beautiful pet, funny afternoon with your child or romantic evening with your spouse – these are emotions that can be translated into poetry.

  1. Pay attention to the feelings.

    Follow your writing entries to see where you write/draw with passion and strength, where you eloquently describe what happened to you (being that injury, pain or even a dispute with a friend), where all your senses are awaken and your descriptions are very detail and elaborate – from there you can derive sincere and strong poem.

  1. Pay attention to the core themes that are repeating.

    These are your central life issues and reveal what is deeply rooted inside and what’s important to you. In your poem you can further elaborate those messages, explore their meaning and get clearer insight on how they are impacting your life. In my case, that’s the issue of health – how that impacts everything that I’m doing, my general quality of life and many of my poems are health and family related.

In one my future posts I intent to discuss in more detail how we can use journal writing to enhance our language and poetic expression.

Do you journal or write every day? How that impacts your poetry writing? Please, share in the comments below.

The tightness and the nilness round that space
when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect
its make and number and, as one bends his face

towards your window, you catch sight of more
on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent
down cradled guns that hold you under cover

and everything is pure interrogation
until a rifle motions and you move
with guarded unconcerned acceleration—

a little emptier, a little spent
as always by that quiver in the self,
subjugated, yes, and obedient.

So you drive on to the frontier of writing
where it happens again. The guns on tripods;
the sergeant with his on-off mike repeating

data about you, waiting for the squawk
of clearance; the marksman training down
out of the sun upon you like a hawk.

And suddenly you’re through, arraigned yet freed,
as if you’d passed from behind a waterfall
on the black current of a tarmac road

past armor-plated vehicles, out between
the posted soldiers flowing and receding
like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.

Seamus Heaney


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dead-poets-society

Few nights ago, almost after 20 years I watched “Dead poets society” movie again. Having poetry as  my regular friend and companion sheds completely new light not only on the understanding of the movie itself, but on the distance I made from a person I used to be to a person I believe I am today.  When I first watched movie, it was more interesting from a teenage point of view – I was in high school and it was amusing to relate to main characters’ early adolescent ups and downs. I certainly don’t attempt to analyze the movie here, but two main messages stuck to my mind after the second watch: how poetry so beautifully offers that different perspective, seeing world from another angle, through different color of lenses, walk in the shoes that can be too tight and make blisters or two big that make us feel clumsy and insecure.

But that is the only truth that exists – there is not only one truth and one reality. You can taste life on many levels and interpret events in endless ways. Poetry acts here as kind of a shortcut to that realization. And once you become aware (which leads me to the second message) is that it somehow gives you a wind in a back, a reassurance that it is OK not to conform; it is OK step out of typical societal expectations.

Will poetry make you any smarter or wiser? It’s hard to say 🙂 But it will help you realize that there is something else, different. It will help you to seize the possibilities and easier to recognize your own capabilities. It’s like sampling life experiences and choosing what you want for yourself.

Each poem is a story, a snapshot of life in particular place and moment in time. You are that third variable, invaluable ingredient that transcends unique experience – both as a writer and reader. Being present with the poem is allowing it to really consume your whole being and from there magic happens – it does have the power to give you strength and courage to enter that different reality. All you need is to let yourself surrender.

I want to once more emphasize that this is not my analyzes and critique on poetic, artistic or emotional value of the movie – merely my thoughts on poetry inspired by it.

For the end of this post I would like to share with you poem by Wisława Szymborska where she so eloquently expresses the uncertainty of our perceived reality and human nature in general. As we are connected but individual, each experience is unique, but universal. Each life is special and so ordinary in the same time.

Could Have

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.

You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck—there was a forest.
You were in luck—there were no trees.
You were in luck—a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
a jamb, a turn, a quarter inch, an instant.
You were in luck—just then a straw went floating by.

As a result, because, although, despite.
What would have happened if a hand, a foot,
within an inch, a hairsbreadth from
an unfortunate coincidence.

So you’re here? Still dizzy from another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn’t be more shocked or speechless.
Listen,
how your heart pounds inside me.

Wisława Szymborska


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rumi_poetry

Have you ever wondered how some people have like magical power to persuade others in their point of view, that they somehow win every argument?

It’s not they always have all the knowledge or the wittiest and most cunning answer. They say the right words in right moment. Not too much, not too less, but right words. It’s like they are carrying around some sort of charisma that is attractive and appealing to people, which for sure is a first step of getting someone on your side – they first have to notice you and what it is that you have to say.

I also think that we often underestimate and neglect the power of language. Spoken language, written language, body language – they all tell a specific story and influence what kind of impact in any given situation we will make. Language is what connects us but also the tool we can use to emphasize our differences, values and reasons – using the tone and voice, language can also dictate ‘the tempo and intensity’ of conversation.

To improve our persuasive skills our language needs to be memorable, distinct, inspiring and supportive. I’ve already written how poetry attributes to leadership, but there are additional benefits that I want to draw your attention to.

I do believe that in some form of another we are all born poets – as we all use, make and create language. The key point here is how we use our language and in what purposes we are putting it in. And this is where poetry brings so much beauty and creativity.

Spending time reading and writing poetry is like training, having an exercise of your brain mussels where you sharpen your senses and you learn to pay closer attention; you slow down fast-paced thoughts and you are reshaping your mind for finding greater meanings as your ability for deep listening grows. You become more aware of weaknesses and virtues of human kind and with that understating, your language reflects that. Great influencers are known for their ability to connect with people on many different levels and poetry acts as a bridge across those barriers – it becomes easier for you to accentuate your message and value.

But most importantly you see yourself and value yourself differently. You start to recognize the areas of language you can express with greater clarity:

  • you find the meaning in having more alternatives;
  • you find ways to communicate your cause more effectively, creatively like using metaphors and similes to explain your point view.

In any given conversation poetry can act as an ice-breaker to lessen the tension and approach the subject with more ease:

  • Using poetic language can instill courage in conversation which is a catalyst for implementing change.
  • In brainstorming sessions can open the doors to hidden creativity, which is essential to innovation.
  • Poetry and art, in general, appeal to senses – which makes us more perceptive to risk taking, but also to strategically value situation.

Poetry, like language is ever-evolving and different, as each time we can perceive it differently. So are we, ever-adapting, by having trust in the change and confidence in the present moment able to reconcile any contrast within ourselves and our authenticity  speakes for us – everyone around is already convinced.

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

David Whyte


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6-tips-to-make-the-most-of-poetry

Do you remember your first time writing a poem? That feeling of possibility of written word acting like a bridge between your ordinary world and other limitless realities?…We can revive those moments each time we commit to writing or reading poetry, to have that freshness we are looking for in sometimes routine and monotones practice.

Here I will share few tips that I’ve found to work for me, each time I start to lose that feeling of connectedness and intimate conversation I need in order to make ‘poetry work for me’.

While writing:

  1. Always bring intention forward

This is one of the ways to shut down that judgmental part of mind and simply surrender yourself to words. Be open to whatever comes up – no matter how silly or unfocused it might sound. Instead of trying to control your thoughts, bring your intention to poem – let your poem take over and simply capture that true moment of your life. That kind of release can give you an emotional upheaval and leave you feel lighter and regenerated.

  1. Engage all your senses

You have your senses for a reason and use them to adequately express what ever you are experiencing in that moment. Your eyes, your mouth, your ears, your nose and your skin can tell the story – let them help you in your writing practice. The more details you put in describing that moment, the more authenticity your poem gets and portraits better experience to your reader. Poem takes a life on its own and reader  becomes the part of your world. In this way you are practicing also your objectivity, focus and ability to stay mindful.

  1. Entwine emotion in your writing

Often we fall into trap of writing about emotion, describing feelings and sensations instead of letting out words to translate our immersion into emotion. To have that internal satisfaction with your writing you need to write while reliving that particular feeling. It will make presented experience believable for your reader. Writing good poem is not always about using better technique, fancy words and adjectives. Sometimes is quite the opposite. Turning off that analytical side of mind and simply  diving deep into your subconsciousness is a creation of poem where you’ve just found that raw, unpolished diamond – valuable but one that needs right words to shine through.

  1. Proactively read poetry

It is well known fact that writers must read in order to  grow. But you can take some simple steps to make more of your reading time. One of the things I like to do is to rewrite in separate notebook poems I particularly like. Instead of having them in separate poetry collections or computer files in this way I can refer to them in one place whenever I like. Writing down poems by hand has another benefit for me as it allows me to more easily follow the rhythm of poem and simply feel it through my hand. It helps me also to remember phrases and words I would like to incorporate in my writing. As it is suggested in this article you can make lists of words you like, your own ‘poetry stacks’ that you can refer to as a resource for inspiration and writing prompts. I’ve been entertaining this idea for some time now and I think is worth a try.

5. Support poetry

in different creative ways by listening to it, reciting it, buying it and most importantly by sharing your own work. Submit and publish whenever opportunity presents itself – it’s a sure way towards impact and contribution we want to make. And as plus you improve your writing skills!

6.Find other interesting ways to incorporate more poetry in your life

That can be through studying, journaling, mindfulness practice…you can use it for brainstorming creative solutions to problems or simply to create an intimate and sincere gift for your loved one. Possibilities are endless, but the more you engage in this practice the more world around you will start to match your new found perspectives – don’t miss that beauty.


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gita_poetry

Did you know that we can trace origins of word ‘spiritual’ back to the ancient times and it comes from latin word spirare which means to breath and in larger sense it can relate to life itself and living energy force? Taking from these meanings, than anything connected to the pure act of breathing has a spiritual connection, and so does poetry.

A self-actualized spirituality in the most broaden sense might be an acquired integrity, a Self that is truly aware of here and now, and takes actions with compassion and kindness.

For me personally, spirituality also means accepting life and the change that comes with it, learning to navigate with the flow and with the given resources and knowledge make the best of any given moment. It also means dropping the guards of ego-driven principles and having trust in uncertainty, unpredictability of life. Instead of I there is also we and they; there is no scarcity – only abundance for each uniqueness we represent; experience and appreciation for any moment and emotion instead of burdening myself with material stuff.

And finally it is also about connectedness, being true and open to yourself and learning to trust your own honesty.

All these integral parts can be experienced through poetry and let it be our vehicle for learning and growth. Starting from that vantage point of how life should be we work through all that is happening to us – we observe and feel, until we get to an understanding that our perceived reality is as it is.

This whole process of spiritual awakening, poetess Jane Hirshfield so finely portrayed in this essay:

The moon in Japanese poetry is always the moon; often it is also the image of Buddhist awakening.

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

Izumi Shikibu (Japan, 974?-1034?) [translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani]
This poem reminds that if a house is walled so tightly that it lets in no wind or rain, if a life is walled so tightly that it lets in no pain, grief, anger, or longing, it will also be closed to the entrance of what is most wanted.

Ant that openness to life is our first gate and allowing we give ourselves to enter the spiritual growth.

On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.

Issa (Japan, 1763-1827) [translated by Jane Hirshfield]
Issa’s singing cricket is Cavafy’s “great Yes” in action. The haiku offers a portrait of the circumstances of all our lives. Carried by capricious currents, certain to die, we nonetheless fully live.

Nature always knows the best way to express itself and in the most difficult circumstances finds a tiny sun beam and a drop of water to carry on life. We all have that knowing in ourselves, but in the process of making a living we forgot to live.

And what I most like about poetry is it reminds me, teaches me and supports me in this process of learning to live again.


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For some reason autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. Dark green, yellow and deep red are colors that always reminded me of maturity, contentment and that satisfying feeling of carrying enough knowledge and experience into the colder and darker days…

For the first official day of autumn let us enjoy these simple yet mindful words by Amy Lowell:

A photo by davide ragusa. unsplash.com/photos/4jcFu1byopQ


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As opposed to the most popular post on this blog ‘Why people don’t like poetry’, I have compiled according to my so far done research a little, simple (yet cute, you have to admit 🙂 ) infographic about beneficial aspects of reading poetry.  Many of us do like reading/writing poetry and we all know that it goes beyond pure use of certain words and language functions.

infographic_benefits_reading_poetry

I think this is especially interesting to the newcomers to this blog and how they are not that much acquainted with the previous work done, here are also links of the specific posts leading to creation of this infographic.

How poetry can stimulate creativity?

Poetry and Creativity: crucial blocks in building leadership qualities

Can poetry help you become a better strategist?

Are you a ‘deep reader’? 3 reasons why you should nurture this habit

How important is tacit knowledge for your creativity and one simple way to get more of it

Develop your own mindfulness practice for more patience and joy at work

Diversity at workplace: how to use poetry for improving communication and intercultural differences

Raise your emotional intelligence for creative entrepreneurial leadership- part I

Raise your emotional intelligence for a creative entrepreneurial leadership – part II

Are you an introvert? Poetry can help you access your inner treasures

Please, feel free to share this info as we together can inspire more people to make poetry essential part of their lives.


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