The language of poetry can be a powerful tool for helping you make lasting changes in your life.
Language influences us deeply—what we think, say, read and write. Whether you call it poetry or journaling, putting your thoughts on paper and examining them, is a powerful first step in discerning your desires. Once you know what you want in any aspect of your life, you’re on the way to making your aspirations your reality.
Poetry that’s short and sweet—getting to the point quickly—has become such a simple and natural everyday form that even those who don’t consider themselves writers find they can use it effectively. Poet Mary Oliver refers to this simpler form of poetry as a “coiled spring, waiting to release its energy in a few clear phrases.” Reading poetry has become so popular that it’s posted on buses in London and several Canadian and US cities.
Writing your own and reading others’ poetry can help you shift your perception of obstacles and transform them into opportunities. Poetry can be used to meditate, pray, relax, entertain, heal and impart wisdom in everyday language. In fact, poetry was one of many treatments used at the Pennsylvania Hospital founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin.
Poetry can help you understand more deeply and see life in a different light. It has the power to connect you to yourself and to others so that you remember you are not alone. It can result in an “aha” moment that alters the trajectory of your life. When a ship at sea changes course by just one degree, 100 miles later it’s in completely different, potentially smoother, waters than it would have been without that small modification in direction. Even the tiniest shift in your direction can have a profound ripple effect throughout the rest of your life.
I close with the example of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey.” This piece is about the endless opportunities for re-birth into a life filled with purpose and meaning. Not a life lived according to someone else’s dictates and expectations, but one that’s a deep expression of your most authentic self. It’s about choosing your own course, regardless of what others may think or say.
The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
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