Poetry for wellbeing and self compassion
Favourite poems and meditation stories
We like to use poems in our mindfulness classes as great poetry can often help us get a deeper sense of themes and ideas we explore. People often ask about some of the poems, so we've collected a few favourites here.
Our chosen poems for wellbeing cover a range of themes, such as letting go or how to enjoy yourself. The first, 'The Unbroken', has been pertinent during the Covid pandemic, when so many people have been feeling 'broken'. We tend to focus on self compassion poems or ones that enhance meditations for letting go and letting be.
We're keen to add to our collection of popular mindfulness meditation poetry, so let us know any of your favourite wellbeing poems.
This collection includes the following:
'The Unbroken' by Rashani Rea
'Letting go' by Safire Rose
'The Guest House' by Rumi
'Wolf tale' - which wolf do you feed?
'Joy in Life' by Thich Nhat Hanh
There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open
to the place inside which is unbreakable
while learning to sing.
Pause... Take a breathe… Read...
See what arises.
She let go.
She let go.
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgements.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the 'right' reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry,
she just let go.
She didn't ask anyone for advice.
She didn't read a book on how to let go.
She didn't search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of all the planning and all of the calculations
about how to do it just right.
She didn't promise to let go.
She didn't journal about it.
She didn't write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn't check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn't analyse whether she should let go.
She didn't call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn't do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn't call the prayer-line.
She didn't utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn't good and it wasn't bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone
Reverend Safire Rose
'The Guesthouse' poem was rather amazingly written in the 13th century. Catherine has explored its timelessness in her mindfulness blog.
This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning, a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness.
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
Meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The Story of the Two Wolves
An old Cherokee Indian chief was teaching his grandson about life.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he told the young boy, “A fight between two wolves. One is evil, full of anger, sorrow, regret, greed, self-pity and false pride.
The other is good, full of joy, peace, love, humility, kindness and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside of you, grandson…and inside of every other person on the face of this earth.”
The grandson ponders this for a moment and then asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The old man smiled and simply said, “The one you feed.”
Joy in Life
You must be completely awake in the present
to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present,
can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savour the aroma,
taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past,
or worrying about the future,
you will completely miss the experience
of enjoying the cup of tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present,
you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma,
the delicacy and beauty of life.
It will seem to be speeding past you.
The past is finished.
Learn from it and let it go.
The future is not even here yet.
Plan for it,
but do not waste your time worrying about it.
Worrying is worthless.
When you stop ruminating about
what has already happened,
when you stop worrying about
then you will be in the present moment.
Then you will begin to experience joy in life.
Thich Nhat Hanh