Utilizing Poetry as a Mindfulness Tool


“Proud Bird” by Kellas Campbell

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you’d be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.


As a mindfulness tool, poems offer a doorway through which I can transcend the intellect, gently ushering me into direct contact with a deeper, more spacious part of my being. Touching into this other aspect of self often helps the “monkey mind’s” chatter fade into the background, leaving the focus of my attention to rest gently within the entirety of my senses.

If you’re looking for a way to help settle into your meditations—try reading a poem before you sit. You might also try reading it again after your session, noticing if there’s a difference in how it resonates for you before and after you’ve meditated. AND if you feel inspired…. I invite you to find a mindfulness practice hidden within the poem that you can try exploring throughout the rest of your day.

Utilizing the Rumi poem above as inspiration, I offer the following suggested practice:

Notice when you find yourself contracting and expanding. See if you can maintain a sense of mindful awareness and equanimity during both—delicately observing the rhythm of your life unfolding, beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings…