ferry boat, setting sun reflected on water

Lately I’ve been inspired by Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems and its notion of mindfulness poetry:

As its very appearance makes plain, poetry invites a different kind of reading than prose. The white space around the text slow us down. Like an island on the page, its shape appeals to the eye. It begs for attention. It wants to be heard. When we choose to listen, we bring the poem to life. Our voice revels in the musicality, our breath is shaped by the lines. The imagery heightens our senses. The language revives our spirits.Poetry of Presence

Poetry of Presence-book-cover-beautiful-egret-photo by David Moynahan.

I like the idea of having some kind of mindfulness practice and I do find meaning, solace, and inspiration in poetry.So I’ve decided to carve out a small space of time each Monday to read a poem and let it work its magic.  I figure it will be a good way to start my week — and even I can handle the commitment of reading a poem a week!

#Mindfulness Mondays

I invite you to join me in these #Mindfulness Mondays. Knowing others are reading with me and counting on me to post the poems will help keep me going!

The poems will come from Poetry of Presence or our book, Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach

In Teaching with Heart, teachers share revelations about their teaching life and their encounters with poems that have meant something to them. We believe poetry is particularly apt for this sort of examination, as poetry compresses meaning into charged particles of language and image. Poetry stirs up an inner conversation about questions, emotions, and things that matter. Because poetry slows us down and focuses our attention, it can yield poignant insights into what is most significant and enduring in our work as educators.

While the focus of Teaching with Heart is on poems selected by teachers, many people have told us that that the teacher’s stories and the poems in this book speak to everyone.

How will it work?

Each Monday, I’ll post part of a poem here on the #TeachingWithHeart blog and on our Facebook page. Why only part of a poem? We don’t have permission to reprint all of the poems online. But we are allowed to post a few lines – so I’ll post a few to perk your interest  and motivate you to carry out your #Mindfulness Monday poetry practice. (I figure we all can use this kind of help.)

My hope is that you’ll purchase the two books and get the poems in their entirety. That way, we can all be “on the same page” and be in a virtual poetry club.

All told, it’s an investment of $41.90 for two books, for over 250 poems – about 17 cents a poem/a week. Click here to purchase Poetry of Presence and here for Teaching with Heart.

Poetry of Presence is also available through the Grayson Books, Barnes & Noble  and Amazon. Teaching with Heart is also available through Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound and Amazon.  As you may have noticed, I list Amazon last, because while Amazon may save you a few dollars, authors get a much higher percentage of the price and royalties when you buy their books directly from them or their publishers. Just saying…

How do you join in #Mindfulness Mondays?

Well, we can’t all meet at each other’s houses — the good news is there’s no need for baking or cleaning up! So each Monday, just check in here or on Facebook to find the poem of the day. Then open the page in your book and begin to read.

It’s that simple.

If you want to go further, you can take a moment or two to let the poem sink in, to catch your breath, and enjoy a moment of peace.

I figure that takes about five minutes.

The benefits? Well, you’ve just spent five minutes on yourself – away from the news, tweets, and the “madding crowd.” And if that’s not enough, the Poetry of Presence editors write that “regular mindfulness practice (which can include poetry reading) reduces stress, promotes health, stimulates learning and creativity, enhances relationships, helps us face suffering and loss, and strengthens our compassion for others.”

That’s quite a return on a five-minute investment!

I hope you’ll join me.

Look for the first poem, next Monday, February 5th.

Cultivating Conversations and Community

If you’re inclined to do more… you can post a word, a phrase, a short thought here in the blog’s comment section or on Facebook. Perhaps you might share the poem or invite a friend or fellow teacher to join us on Mindfulness Mondays.

To further the conversation and the sense of being in this together, each week Phyllis Cole-Dai, co-editor of Poetry of Presence, or Megan Scribner, co-editor of Teaching with Heart, will respond to your comments. As we go along, we hope to have “guest appearances” from others — poets, mindfulness practitioners, teachers — who will respond to questions and comments posed by Mindfulness Mondays participants.

If you have to miss a week or two – that’s fine.  Life has a way of stepping in. I suspect once you and I get into this habit, we’ll look forward to these quiet starts to our week.  (In case you do miss a week, go to #Mindfulness Mondays Poems for an ongoing list of the posted poems.)

Help us make this work for you!

This is definitely a work (or practice) in progress. So we’d love to hear your suggestions on how to make this work for you. If you have suggestions on how to sustain or add to a Mindfulness Monday practice – share it in the comment section below or at teachingwithheartfirepoetry@gmail.com.

Find us on Facebook and on Twitter (poetry4teachers), we’ll be using #Mindfulness Mondays.