Mindfulness Poetry – a Lightness of Being


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Mindfulness Poetry – a Lightness of Being

Mindfulness Poetry – a Lightness of Being are thoughts on a period in human history which we all shared in some way, namely lock-down during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is in essence a mindfulness experience of the joys and sorrow and a relationship with Nature during this period. It was written during autumn, or fall, in the southern hemisphere.

“Poetry asks us to focus intently on the present… it teaches us the value of the journey,’” Dr Bryan Walpert

Mindfulness and the Benefits of Poetry

These are the words of Dr Bryan Walpert, an associate professor at Massey’s School of English and Media Studies.  He has written a book: Poetry and Mindfulness. Interruption to a Journey. The benefits and insights mindfulness provides are cultivated by the study of poetry. These benefits include a focus on the present, the ability to see through scripts and habits, a rethinking of subjectivity, and the development of ecological or systems thinking.

Mindfulness has a fundamental importance in developing an awareness of the present moment – an awareness that poetry encourages. Reading, writing and reflecting mindfully on poems helps us to develop a sense of tolerance of ambiguity and helps us to become more compassionate and show more empathy. It helps us to see things in a new way, without our habitual way. It seems that “poetry often produces a sense of freedom and openness, allowing for a spaciousness of interpretation, and openness of the senses” (Poetry, Mindfulness, and Medicine Shauna L. Shapiro, MA. Literature and the Arts in Medical Education. Vol. 33, No. 7 p. 505).

According to Poet Jeffrey Davis, there seems to be a comparison between music and poetry, which, according to some neuroscientists, awaken the brain in the same way. ‘Poetry,’ he says, ‘helps us find the music in monotone days.’ Using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to compare the reading of poetry and prose, a team at the University of Exeter found that poetry activates areas like the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes, which have been linked to introspection.

-Dr Mariki Smith

There is more at Mindfulness and Poetry, the Free State Institute of Mindfulness.


Poetry, Mindfulness, and Medicine Shauna L. Shapiro, MA. Literature and the Arts in Medical Education. Vol. 33, No. 7 p. 505