Spirituality, poetry and inner growth – how they are connected?

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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Autumn

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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INFOGRAPHIC: 9 benefits of reading poetry

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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Making Peace by Denise Levertov

As today we are celebrating a World Peace Day, I thought of sharing this beautiful words by Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” and through poetry take opportunity to first find peace within ourselves and simply let that energy transcend further, around us:

peace_poetry


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15 most beautiful poems about mindfulness

mindfulness_poetry

We are all aware that present moment is the place where our power lies. Not in the past or future, but in the now where we can make the most of our lives. Yet, being mindful is not that easy: we often catch ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about distant events, thus allowing sometimes beautiful tiny moments escape our attention. In this post I share my own practice on using poetry for meditative purposes that I found to be helpful. Today I list here my 15 top poems about mindfulness, purpose in life and happiness. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

 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 sheets 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 you could save.

What Do We Know by Mary Oliver

The sky cleared
I was standing
under a tree.

and there were stars in the sky
that were also themselves
at the moment

at which moment
my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars
and the soft rain —
imagine! Imagine!
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

 When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For the time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

What We Need Is Here by Wendell Berry

 Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

You Reading This, Be Ready by William Stafford

 Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life–
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Enough by David Whyte

 Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

Stand Still by David Wagoner

The trees before you and the bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is a place called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

Happiness by Hermann Hesse

If luck you chase, you have not grown
enough for happiness to stay,
not even if you get your way.

If, what you lost, you still bemoan,
and grasp at tasks, and dash and dart,
you have not known true peace of heart.

But if no wishes are your own,
and you don’t try to win the game,
and Lady Luck is just a name,

then tides of life won’t reach your breast
and all your strife
and all your soul will rest.

Rumi

Be empty of worrying
Think of who created thought
Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open
Move outside the tangle of fear thinking
Live in silence
Flow down and down
Into always widening
Rings of being

Hafiz

Now is the time
Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God?
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

Franz Kafka

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice,
it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

T.S. Eliot

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope for hope
would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Osho

There is a music which has no sound,
the soul is restless for such silent music.
There is a love in which the body is not,
the soul longs for such unembodied love.
There is a truth which has no form,
the soul longs for this formless truth.

The Way It Is by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

One Sand Grain Among the Others in the Winter Wind by Jane Hirshfield

I wake with my hand held over the place of grief in my body.
“Depend on nothing,” the voice advises, but even that is useless.
My ears are useless, my familiar and intimate tongue.
My protecting hand is useless, that wants to hold the single leaf to the tree
and say, Not this one, this one will be saved.


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Poetic inspiration: Why reading?

reading_poetry

Reading not only satisfies your curiosity:

it enriches you inner world like

you lived 1000 lives before.

Maja S. Todorovic


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6 life habits that allowed me to become a writer I always wanted to be

lifehabits_writing

I guess, ever since I entered my graduate studies, I was involved in some sort of writing: assignments, seminars – later came academic papers, books and presentations. But all that writing was somehow constrained – I had to obey certain rules, to follow procedures and satisfy requirements I was asked to. As all that can be fun and is a learning path – it lacked freedom. For me, becoming a writer I always wanted to be, means writing what I want, when I want, under my own terms – to share my experiences and have opportunity to contribute to larger community. And blogging is a fabulous way of doing that. Business in Rhyme really allowed me to explore topics I previously didn’t have time for or I didn’t know how to communicate. Finally I think I’m on the right track of becoming a writer I always strove to be deep in side with needed courage and strength to endure.

In the last seven yeas a lot of things changed in my life. Previously, in my home country I worked as University professor, and a business consultant, which led to being ‘stretched’ between my work with students, writing textbooks and doing research for projects.

Coming to the Netherlands brought a lot of challenges, meaning I didn’t know what I really wanted:  to teach, to do research or something else. In the meantime I kept my ongoing projects at the University. Along the way with my move and adjustments in the new country, first health issues appeared in the form of thyroid dysfunction and peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. I knew something has to change: to take life much easily, pay more attention to myself and what I really needed.

So my first change and habit I developed is

1.Always assessing my needs

When you from very active and vibrant person become someone who lacks energy, has a lot of pain and struggle with everyday activities, you start to ask yourself questions like:

How did I get here?

What went wrong?

What is it that I actually need?

In that process I started to remove anything that didn’t serve me anymore: clutter, habits, ‘stale’ relationships… I started to meditate, devote most of time to myself and nurturing my peace. I realized I didn’t want to live a hectic academic life I so ‘adored’ and was proud of. But there is so much more to life than being busy – like learning about your real needs, writing and reading poetry that earlier I didn’t have time for. And all those realizations culminated in this blog. Here I’m finally a writer always wanted to be: with no degrees, grades, awards – it’s just me,  pure me translated in words.

The second one is:

2. Cleaning my diet

The process of simplification I embarked on meant also evaluation of what I was putting in my system and how that has contributed to my conditions. I now eat so simply that my friends usually laugh at me 🙂 But it means I’m pain free, medication free, and it takes less time to prepare my meals. Eating more fruits and leafy greens (in their raw state) brings clarity and patience you need in order for your creativity to flourish. Improving your digestion, sleep, energy levels – all that is vital to exploit your real creative potential.

3.Creating meaningful morning routine

I was always a morning person. I use that time to start my day with setting right attentions, with loose schedule so I can achieve desired outcome without stress. Doing some short exercises, meditation or yoga helps me refocus my thoughts and concentrate on the tasks ahead of me.

4.Reading more poetry

This is a habit I wish so many people acquire. Benefits of reading poetry are numerous, but fulfillment it brings to my inner self is immeasurable. Having that another lens to look at world is enjoyment and amazement I now need every day.

5.Enjoying solitude

I am quite individualistic when it comes to work and I’ve always enjoyed hours in solitude to sort my thoughts and figure things out. The same applies to my writing. Spending time ‘alone with myself’ enables me to have that internal conversation and dive deep in search for both answers and questions I explore further on paper.

6.Change of scenery

Whenever I’m confused or I don’t know how to articulate what I want to say, changing my environment helps a lot – being that going for a walk, short travels or vacations. All that contributes to inflow of fresh ideas, creative opportunities and stirs your imagination. Changing environment brings inevitably change of our perspective on things. Sometimes that is all you need to start/continue writing.

So this is my list of habits that helped me improve and devote more time to writing. I wholeheartedly encourage you to assess your needs and habits – look for space where you can devote more of your energy to writing and become a writer you always dreamed of.


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Poetic inspiration: The Power of Poetry

poetry_dosage

Poetry comes in small packages,

because all you need is a tiny dosage

of concentrated emotion to

electrify your whole being.

Maja S. Todorovic


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Poetic contemplation: William Stafford on writing, pursuing your life dreams and accepting your true nature

williamstafford_Quote_poetry

William Stafford is an American contemporary poet and writer. Born in 1914,  his early teenage and adult years were marked with effort to support  family by doing various seasonal jobs. As the eldest of five children he grew up appreciating books and nature.  He received a BA and an MA from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and, in 1954, a PhD from the University of Iowa.

As a registered pacifist, Stafford worked in camps and projects during the second world war. In 1948 he began to teach at Lewis and Clark College. His first poetry collection was published in his later years (when he was 48) and it won the National Book Award in 1963. For his lifetime he published more than 65 volumes of prose and poetry and won many literary prizes. His poetry at first glance looks simple, yet contains profound truth and revelation, if examined deeper (source)

He truly believed that everyone of us is a writer, a poet at heart, just people lack persistence and vision:

Everyone is born a poet – a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is: Why did other people stop?”

Writing is constant process of exploration and that’s what constitutes a good writer:

 You don’t need many words if you already know what you’re talking about. A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.”

Every  word has to find its own right time and place and nothing is more powerful than that:

In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. They traded
meaning while pretending to have only one.

Monstrous alliances never dreamed of before
began. Sometimes they last. Never again
do they separate in this world. They die
together. They have a fidelity that no
purpose or pretense can ever break

And all of this happens like magic to the words
in those dark hours when others sleep.

In Stafford’s work we can easily observe entwined topics of self-acceptance and belief in retaining one’s true nature. He writes:

I heard a bird congratulating itself
all day for being a jay.
Nobody cared. But it was glad
all over again, and said so, again.

Too many times we pay more attention on what others have to say about us, than what we think about ourselves. And these words by William Stafford are great reminder:

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”–
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.

Everyone of us has its own path to follow. Our purpose in life is with our desires, goals and thriving for better to pave that path. Conditions and circumstances might change, but not our attentions, values and desire for contribution – fear should never interrupt the way you lead your life:

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

And whenever we have doubts we can return to nature, divine silence that contains all our questions and answers: our task is to search for ones that belong to us:

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

Stafford’s contemplative poetry offers very deep and nurturing outlook on purpose in life. For further examining this topic, you can complement this reading with thoughts from other poets:

Kahlil Gibran’s timeless wisdom on the purpose of poetry and meaning of work

The poetic determination: Ella Wheeler Wilcox on positive thinking and how that impacts success in life


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4-step process to achieving your creative goals every day

4-step process to achieving your

In our already very busy lives, the pressure to do more and perform better seems to grow, even though we stay with the same amount of hours in a day. The to-do lists are getting on popularity with all accompanying tools like apps, digital notebooks and ext. just for you to become more productive. Still, there is an underlying question: we might be able to do more, but with what quality? I am always for quality over quantity, since it is less stressful and you will be more satisfied with the work you’ve done.carnegie

So how you can organize your day, in order to meet all your desired creative goals?

Cut the long to-do list short.

So the first step in this process I would recommend for you to clearly and realistically go through your daily tasks/goals, make priorities and choose only those that are really important.

Define what’s really important to you.

In order to retain that initial drive for accomplishing our goals, it is crucial to focus ourselves on the tasks that serve our purpose, that will benefit us in the long run. Only when you divert your thinking to work on what really matters, you begin to more appreciate your time and what you do with it.

Notice when are your high energy levels.

As everything around us has its cyclic rhythm so do we. Life is made of cycles and seasons so we need to observe ourselves in what part of the day we are most productive. That’s the power we should harness as much as we can. Follow the flow of your own rhythms instead of pedaling against the stream. I’m for example a morning person and I build my daily routine around those pick energy levels to take the maximum advantage of it.

Focus only at one task at the time.

Multitasking is a myth busted long time ago. It’s a deceiving feeling you are getting more things done, while what it does it’s quite the opposite. You might initially do more, but the tiredness and stress that accumulates simply adds up to long-term exhaustion. For many years, I personally was very proud of my multitasking skills. Yes, I managed to do more things, but at the end of the day I was always left with some ’empty’ feeling, like something was missing. And that was strange, because the purpose of the multitasking is to do more things and get that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, right? Until several years ago I realized that key source of my stress was that endless try to get everything done, fast and in short period of time. Than I began to declutter my schedule and get more focus on what’s really important. The biggest lesson I learnt is when you approach your obligations, strategically, with end result in mind, your focus will sharpen and your energy won’t get dissipated on meaningless activities. While remaining on doing one thing at the time, completely present in the moment, actually our effectiveness with time can grow, since it allows you to enjoy your work, simply to be immersed in your creativity. In Buddhist traditions, the philosophy is to do everything slowly and deliberately, with complete concentration. Put your mind completely on the task and try to avoid distractions.

If you have big projects, then break them into small pieces and do segment by segment, one step at a time.

How do you spare time for your creativity? Please, share in the comments below.


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