I asked each student to choose a poem, any poem that inspired them or made them feel peaceful and happy, and I gave them an assignment to recite it (from memory) in front of the class.
As you might imagine, the students did not greet my announcement with enthusiasm.
In the first place, public speaking is scary for a lot of people. But these are communication classes after all, so I decided the assignment was fair game.
But POETRY? Seriously? The students weren’t digging it. In fact, several dropped the class after they found out about the poem assignment.
Some pretty interesting things happened though, for the students who stayed.
In their reflective essays about the poetry experience, many students wrote that, much to their surprise, they began enjoying the poems. Memorizing the words and reciting them awakened new levels of meaning and appreciation. They even realized new things about themselves. In fact, now they wanted to continue exploring poetry!
That was good news to me, but the more important piece was this: quite a few of the students found when they got up to speak, the very words of their poems worked to calm them down.
This shouldn’t have been news to me, since I regularly memorize poems and recite them to myself during meditation, when I’m walking or driving or preparing to give a presentation. Poetry has been a source of joy, comfort and mind-training for me for many years.
My students’ insights reminded me of the power of poetic language to heal the mind and restore the soul. It’s the reason I delve into poetry myself, and why I sometimes offer clients a poem that speaks to their situation.
So there you have it, the simple solution for an anxious mind: a relationship with a good poem.
I was telling my Mom, Mary Lou Schneider, about my students’ experience with the poems, and she said, “we both love poetry and have used it in our work for so long, we should create a mini-retreat on Poetry as a Spiritual Practice!”
As usual, I thought my Mom was brilliant.
I loved the idea of offering simple ways that anyone can use poems to create peace and calm, to inspire and uplift, to comfort and heal.
So, we’re doing it. And we would love for you to join us on Saturday, June 1st for Words of Power: Poetry as a Spiritual Practice!
(Don’t worry–we’re not going to make anyone stand up and recite a poem! Instead, we will share some of the experiential exercises we’ve developed to make the magic of poetry accessible to anyone– and to allow those who already love reading poems to play with them in a new way).
You can find out all of the details here:
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear from you: what are some of the poems you turn to for inspiration?
It would be fun to share a conversation about that on my Facebook page:
Or of course, as always, you can email me.
I hope we’ll see you at the retreat!
May the peace of poetic words be yours,
The Manifestation Maven