An Exquisite Collection of Mindfulness Poetry

When I teach my mindfulness retreats and courses I like to share poetry, quotes and passages about mindfulness. Mindfulness poetry like this conveys important messages for our lives and our meditation practice.

People always ask me for these poems at the end of the retreats. Since I am so frequently asked for them I thought you might all enjoy some of them too. Here are my top ten favorite poems and passages about mindfulness. May they enlighten, bring clarity and peace.

WALK DON’T RUNphoto_2016-10-20_08-44-00
By Rob Bell

Walk, don’t run.
That’s it.
Walk, don’t run.

Slow down, breathe deeply,
and open your eyes because there’s
a whole world right here within this one. The bush doesn’t suddenly catch on fire, it’s been burning the whole time.

Moses is simply moving
slowly enough to see it. And when he does,
he takes off his sandals.

Not because
the ground has suddenly become holy,
but because he’s just now becoming aware that
the ground has been holy the whole time.

Efficiency is not God’s highest goal for your life,
neither is busyness,
or how many things you can get done in one day,
or speed, or even success.

But walking,
which leads to seeing,
now that’s something.
That’s the invitation for every one of us today,
and everyday, in every conversation, interaction,
event, and moment: to walk, not run. And in doing so,
to see a whole world right here within this one.

FOUND
By Frederick Buechner
From Lecture To A Book of The Month Club

Maybe it’s all utterly meaningless.
Maybe it’s all unutterably meaningful.
If you want to know which,
pay attention to
what it means to be truly human
in a world that half the time
we’re in love with
and half the time
scares the hell out of us…

The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips.
The good dream.
The strange coincidence.
The moment that brings tears to your eyes.
The person who brings life to your life.

Even the smallest events hold the greatest clues.

THE GUEST HOUSE
By Rumi
Translation by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
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 are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
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 whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

DEAR YOU
By Kaveri Patel

Dear you,
You who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still.

I know you’re tired.
I also know it’s not your fault.
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes.
You’ve forgotten something again.
You need to prepare for that or else.
You should have done that differently.

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled.

HOKUSAI SAYS
By Roger Keyes

Hokusai says look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.

He says look forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
yourself as long as it is interesting.

He says keep doing what you love.

He says keep praying.

He says everyone of us is a child,
everyone of us is ancient,
everyone of us has a body.
He says everyone of us is frightened.
He says everyone of us has to find
a way to live with fear.

He says everything is alive–
shells, buildings, people, fish,
mountains, trees, wood is alive.
Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.

He says live with the world inside you.

He says it doesn’t matter if you draw,
or write books. It doesn’t matter
if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your veranda
or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.

It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.

It matters that life lives through you.

Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
is life living through you.

He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.

Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.

Let life live through you.

BREATH OF LIFE
By Danna Faulds

I breathe in All That Is-
Awareness expanding
to take everything in,
as if my heart beats
the world into being.
From the unnamed vastness beneath the mind,
I breathe my way into wholeness and healing.
Inhalation. Exhalation.
Each Breath a “yes,”
and a letting go, a journey, and a coming home.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE CHAPTERS
By Portia Nelson
From Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

1. I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3. I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4. I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5. I walk down another street.

BIRTHRIGHT
By Danna Faulds

Despite illness of body or mind, in spite of blinding despair or habitual belief, who you are is whole.

Let nothing keep you separate from the truth. The soul, illumined from within, longs to be known for what it is.

Undying, untouched by fire or the storms of life, there is a place inside where stillness and abiding peace reside. You can ride the breath to go there.

Despite doubt or hopeless turns of mind, you are not broken. Spirit surrounds, embraces, fills you from the inside out. Release everything that isn’t your true nature. What’s left, the fullness, light and shadow, claim all that as your birthright.

MEDITATION: CALMING THE MIND (Excerpt)
By Bob Sharples

Don’t meditate to fix 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.

CHINESE PROVERB

If there is light in the soul,
there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.

I hope your enjoyed this ‘top ten’ collection of my favourite mindful poetry. Feel free to share it around. Do you have any favourite poems of your own? I’d love to hear them. Why not share them with us in the comments section below : )

Wishing you well – Melli

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Comments

  1. It is soooo wonderful that your emails pop up in my life just when I need them and often say just what I need to hear to either provoke or crystallise thoughts, help me acknowledge and express my emotions and challenge me to live more calmly and fully. Thankyou.

  2. Sharron Williams says:

    Hi Melli,
    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful poems. You truly are a treasure, spreading love and joy wherever you go. And your workshops are amazing! Thank you.

  3. Christy Hightower says:

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring poetry list! Poetry has a way of speaking to the heart and soul that is more direct than prose. I wanted more after reading your list, and a quick internet search found the Center for Mindfulness at the University of California San Diego, they have this long list of poems they use in their MBSR classes: https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/mindfulness/resources/Pages/poetry.aspx
    A favorite of mine that is on this list is “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye
    https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/mindfulness/resources/Pages/poetry.aspx#group4

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