Words of Reflection

Poems of Presence – July 2020

When I recite an inspiring poem or quote in class, we practice being present together in shared experience. I hope you’ll enjoy re-reading them and sharing them with others in your own voice.

This is the real secret of life — To be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. ~ Alan Watts

Apply Within (Suzy Kassem)
You once told me
You wanted to find
Yourself in the word --
And I told you to
First apply within,
To discover the world
within you.

You once told me
You wanted to save
The world from all its wars -- 
And I told you to
First save yourself
From the world,
And all the wars
You put yourself

And the People Stayed Home (Kitty O’Meara)

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

From Bob Sharples, Meditation: Calming the Mind

“Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself;  rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself.  In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough.  It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot.  Instead there is now meditation as an act of love.  How endlessly delightful and encouraging.”

It’s not about how much you do but how much love you put into what you do. ~ Mother Teresa


Poems of Presence: June 2020

These insightful poems and quotes enlivened the themes of recent yoga and meditation classes.

(Photo credit: Nancy Beckerman, 2020)


If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. ~ Maya Angelou

Breathing Into Discomfort

Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There’s a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. ~ Leonard Cohen (Anthem)

When the Heart is Cut (Michael Leonig)

When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken,
Do not clutch it;
Let the wound lie open.
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt,
And let it sting.
Let a stray dog lick it,
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell,
And let it ring.

For A New Beginning (John O’Donohue)

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Poems of Presence: May 2020

Practicing daily gratitude and open presence allow the space for deepest connection. Similarly, these poems and quotes invite us to pause and remember what matters most. (Related to class themes)

Choosing Gratitude

Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Viktor Frankl

Open, Listening Presence

I don’t ask for the sights in front of me to change, only for the depth of my seeing. ~ Mary Oliver

Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness–an empathy–was necessary if the attention was to matter. ~ Mary Oliver


If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded. ~ Maya Angelou

Clearing (Martha Postlethwaite)

Do not try to serve 
the whole world 
or do anything grandiose. 
Instead, create 
a clearing 
in the dense forest
of your life 
and wait there 
until the song
that is yours alone to sing
falls into your open cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to the world 
so worthy of rescue.

Poems of Presence: April 2020

Each week in class I share a relevant poem or quote to support our practice theme. As shelter-in-place continues, we practice riding the waves of difficult and beautiful moments.

i thank You God for most this amazing day (ee cummings) Feeling so grateful for the nourishment of nature in presence; nature is both healing and the healer.

Being a Person (William Stafford) With walks and hikes and garden meanderings a life-affirming part of these slower, quieter days, many are feeling more connected–or reconnected–with nature.

Something About the Wind (Sidney Hall, Jr.) It occurred to me that sadness and grief come in waves, like everything. I began to notice all the waves and stopped trying to make sense of them but just to ride them–thoughts, body sensations, sounds, circumstances, energy. This poem brought a smile as the breath is always here as the ocean.


Poems of Presence: March 2020

Inspiring, life-affirming words of reflection.

Each week in class I share a relevant poem or quote to support our practice theme. The following readings reflect positive aspects of the first few weeks of sheltering-in-place to stay safe and minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Lockdown (Brother Richard Hendrick, March 13, 2020, Ireland) Beautiful, uplifting and poignant.

Love Sorrow (Mary Oliver) What happens if we hold all emotions this way?

The Beauty of Balance (Laura Purdie Salas) Remembering the strength and power of just being present and finding balance from the doing doing doing.

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