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Poetry, songs, and quotes from October 2018 Roots of Mindfulness

18 Nov 2018 12:09 PM | Tim Burnett (Administrator)

Tim Burnett and Karen Schwisow co-led a 7-day Roots of Mindfulness retreat with daily talks on the Buddhist teachings of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. You can watch and listen to Tim's talks here: 2018 - Four Foundations of Mindfulness

“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.”   - Bob Sharples, from Meditation: Calming the Mind

Ways I Have Been a Bad Meditater     by Ted Weinstein

I have swallowed repeatedly.

I have thought about eating a piece of dark chocolate.

I have moved my leg because I couldn’t endure the pain in my knee.

I have wondered whether I left the oven on.

I have tried to slow my breathing.

I have looked at my watch before the meditation bell rang.

I have thought about whether to register for a retreat this coming summer.

I have thought about kissing the woman sitting on the cushion to my left.

I have thought about shushing the heavy-breathing man on the cushion to my right.

I have wanted the teacher to notice how well I am meditating.

I have wondered how the teacher can really meditate while constantly checking if it is time to ring the bell.

I have missed my old girlfriend.

I have remembered why I broke up with my old girlfriend.

I have thought I can’t date anyone who isn’t a meditator.

I have listened to the sound of the rain.

I have worried if I closed the windows of my car.

I have wondered if living in the moment means I don’t have to put money in a retirement account.

I have imagined going to Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize in Meditation.

I have thought about how my goddaughter laughs when I turn her upside down.

I have wanted this feeling of joy to continue.

I have focused on the rising and falling of my stomach while breathing when I was trying to focus on the sensation of my breath going in and out at my nostrils.

I have decided meditation retreats are a waste of time.

I have wanted to ring the bell at the end of the group sitting.

I have opened my eyes to look if the teacher’s eyes are open.

I have been annoyed at the bird outside that won’t stop cawing.

I have wondered whether it is time to buy a new meditation cushion.

I have thought about making up items for this list.

I have wondered if I could ever complete this list.

I have decided I will never achieve enlightenment.

I have told myself I am a bad meditator.

Forget about enlightenment By: John Welwood

Sit down wherever you are

And listen to the wind singing in your veins.

Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.

Open your heart to who you are, right now,

Not who you would like to be,

Not the saint you are striving to become,

But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.

All of you is holy.

You are already more and less

Than whatever you can know.

Breathe out,

Touch in,

Let go.

"Important" By Helen M. Luke

"We hurry through the so-called boring things

in order to attend to that which we deem

more important, interesting.

Perhaps the final freedom will be a recognition that

everything in every moment is "essential"

and that nothing at all is "important."

A blessing on one who sits (Unknown Author)

When you light your candle and sit for prayer

may you sense the millions of whom you become a part.

When you sit and position for prayer or reflection or silence

may your body pause with your mind,

your mind with your soul,

and your soul with the sky which rests in light and day

doing its job, like you, of simply being.

When you sit in the silence of your prayer-space

may the "One Who Is" comfort you when you wonder if

you are being heard, and

may you see a different light,

a different hope,

which comes only from the waiting.

May the thoughts which invade your mind

like soldiers marching on a silent city be diverted down the road

which leads out of town.

May the worries which knock at the door of your heart

find that they must wait some time at that door,

locked against such intruders on eros.

May the annoyances which have hooked you

like a fisherman's hook find their lines cut

by your willingness to let go of your captor

so that you may be caught by the Lover of Souls.

And may your breath slow,

your heart-race calm,

your chatter quiet

your body pause.

And when you have passed hearing your

monkeys chattering in your mind's trees;

and after you hear your God say what needs

to be said to you;

may you begin to overhear the Trinity of Love

speaking of how very, very good and beloved you are.

Self-Compassion Practice:

Inhale: I allow myself

Exhale: to make mistakes

Inhale: I allow myself

Exhale: to be imperfect

Inhale: I allow myself

Exhale: to be a learner in life

Inhale: I forgive myself

Exhale: And for now, I am free

Bring to mind some one you’ve had a challenge with recently.

Inhale: I allow you

Exhale: to make mistakes

Inhale: I allow you

Exhale: to be imperfect

Inhale: I allow you

Exhale: to be a learner in life

Inhale: I forgive you

Exhale: And for now, we are free

Rosemerry Trommer - One Morning

 One morning

 we will wake up

 and forget to build

that wall we’ve been building,


 the one between us

the one we’ve been building

 for years, perhaps

 out of some sense

 of right and boundary,

 perhaps out of habit.


 One morning

 we will wake up

 and let our empty hands

 hang empty at our sides.


 Perhaps they will rise,

 as empty things

 sometimes do

 when blown

 by the wind.


 Perhaps they simply

will not remember

 how to grasp, how to rage.


 We will wake up

 that morning

 and we will have

 misplaced all our theories

about why and how

 and who did what

 to whom, we will have mislaid

 all our timelines

 of when and plans of what

and we will not scramble

to write the plans and theories anew.


 On that morning,

not much else

 will have changed.


Whatever is blooming

will still be in bloom.


 Whatever is wilting

 will wilt. There will be fields

to plow and trains

 to load and children

 to feed and work to do.


 And in every moment,

 in every action, we will

 feel the urge to say thank you,

 we will follow the urge to bow.

David Whyte - Enough

Enough. These few words are enough.

If not these words, this breath.

If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life

we have refused

again and again

until now.

Until now. 

 Mary Oliver - Mindful

Every day

     I see or I hear


               that more or less

kills me

     with delight,

          that leaves me 

               like a needle


in the haystack 

     of light.

          it is what I was born for -

                to look, to listen,


to lose myself

     inside this soft world‐

          to instruct myself

               over and over


in joy,

     and acclamation.

          Nor am I talking

               about the exceptional.

the fearful, the dreadful, 

     the very extravagant‐

               but of the ordinary.

                    the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations. 

     Oh, good scholar.

          l say to myself,

               how can you help

but grow wise

     with such teachings

          as these—-

                    the untrimmable light

of the world

     the ocean’s shine,

               the prayers that are made 

               out of grass? 

Holly Hughes - Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun

above the horizon, like a shade pulled

not quite down.  Otherwise,

clouds.  Sea rippled here and

there.  Birds reluctant to fly.

The mind wants a shaft of sun to

stir the grey porridge of clouds,

an osprey to stitch sea to sky

with its barred wings, some dramatic

music: a symphony, perhaps

a Chinese gong.


But the mind always

wants more than it has --

one more bright day of sun,

one more clear night in bed

with the moon; one more hour

to get the words right; one

more chance for the heart in hiding

to emerge from its thicket

in dried grasses -- as if this quiet day

with its tentative light weren't enough,

as if joy weren't strewn all around.

Mary Oliver - Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Derek Walcott - Love After Love

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self. 

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you have ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes, 

peel your own image from the mirror. 

Sit. Feast on your life.

Songs Tim Sung

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass

Tracy Chapman, The Promise

Ayub Ogada, Nyandolo (traditional Kenyan lullaby of the Luo people)

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