Let Me Share with You about Poetess and Poetry Superfan: Jenny Justice

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #12

My friend, poet Jenny Justice

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Jenny Justice

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.

I first met Jenny Justice on the Medium platform. I was watching my own work appearing on the Top Writer tag for poetry and this other person seemed to be everywhere I went on Medium. I followed her and we began interacting, primarily about poetry. Then one day I was out and about shopping at a local Goodwill store and Jenny messaged me. We messaged throughout the afternoon, got to know each other, and declared ourselves poetry sisters. We’ve shared poetry, life, tears, and joy–and I consider her a dear friend.

It is my honor to bring your attention to this lovely, passionate woman and her poetic journey. Her voice; passionate, relatable, vibrant–is an important one in the poetry community. Her uplifting spirit and mentoring kindness (she works with ASL poets) precedes her and will win you over with a quickness!

A bit about this author

Where are you from?
Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, California, and now Reno, NV 

How long have you been writing?
Since Age 7 

What is your educational background regarding writing?
It’s interesting. It might be one of those things I regret a bit. I wanted to be an English major. To just go to school and read and read and write. And then maybe teach High School English and change some lives that way. Instead, I took one Sociology class and I was hooked on Sociology because it spoke to my passion for justice, it gave me insights into society and how to change the world, and I told myself okay, I can major in Sociology but always write as a hobby. I wrote poetry all the time in high school and in college. 


A bit about Jenny’s work

Where is your work currently published?
Medium. My books on Amazon. My heart. 

What are awards / accolades for your work?
Not yet but I think there should be an award for combining sociology and poetry. 

(Christina’s interjection here–Jenny is being modest. She’s been a Top Writer for Poetry almost since she joined Medium and she and I have been in the #2 and #3 spots for nearly half a year now. We keep trading places!)

Do you have any published poetry collections?
I have self published two so far. My first one, Love in the Time of Climate Change, and my little year-in-the life poetry memoir,  Reveal

Describe the vision / style / content / etc of your poetry?
Simple, yet deep. Relatable. Not lofty. Here for you. Concerned about justice. Buddhist.


A brief Interview with Jenny

Tell me about your writing process with regards to writing poetry, specifically.

It’s a fine balance between routine and inspiration. I like writing poetry in the morning, especially, but if I have a day on the couch at home, I usually have my laptop near and wait for inspiration to strike. I write about what I know, of course. I write about who I am. I write about what matters to me, personally and politically. I write about spirituality and Buddhism. There is no other process – I write, I edit a bit, and then I post. I consider myself mostly an online poet but am in the process of seeing how to break out – go do some readings, try harder to get things into journals, and so on. But there is something magical about online poetry – the writing, sharing, feedback and engagement that happens in community. 

Lately due to this pandemic I have been writing a bit less often, and it has to be really felt – deeply, in order to get out of my mind onto the page. The anxiety level, the absence of routine, the uncertainty of what is to happen, for how long, has really messed with my ability to find inner peace and poetic space. 

This one that I did manage to write came from a really pure moment of me being able to shut out all of the constant scrolling and pause my ongoing search for what is happening, is it getting better, will we be okay, – things you cannot really find in a google search, you know?  – I had the title come to me before bed one night, I wrote it down, and that’s all I could do. The next day I thought about it some more and this poem came to me. 

This is the poem. It just speaks to me and to many, I think, at this time. It is called “I don’t know if I’m a person anymore or just a thing that fights.”


We wanted a break, a rest, we wanted …
and now we would break down for a bit of certainty,

a bit of routine, a bit of it’s safe, it’s safe, it’s all clear.
I don’t know if I’m a person anymore or just a thing that fights.

It’s for each other, it’s for the greater good, but the fear is real
fighting against this thing in our homes, washing our hands more

than any of us have ever considered washing hands before
good, it’s good, I know, but the level veers into obsession —

we have to wash our groceries, packages, we have to be ever on alert
so on alert that sleep feels surreal, odd to engage in.

We make love every night, it has to be the stress, it has to
have something to do with feeling like every day something is

around the corner and it is not going to be normal
anymore

Read the full poem here


If you had a piece of advice for other poets, what would that be?

I write a lot about this but, there’s this feeling of not feeling like a ‘real poet’ if maybe you did not go to an MFA program or if maybe you have yet to be published in a ‘journal journal’ but that is not what poetry actually is or where it comes from. It is not some stamp you get. Poetry is what you do with the voice in your head, the sounds of the words, the pauses, the ability to look at the world around you, and within you, and the emotions and to find a way to express them so that they reach someone else. Don’t be scared try, don’t be scared to be an online poet, don’t be scared to self-publish. It’s the words and the connection that matter most. What I love about poetry is that it can be short and it can grab. One line or phrase can stay with someone for the rest of their lives, a sentence, a stanza. That is powerful. So, read poetry, write poetry, and be brave about it when you are given the chance. 

What would you say to people who may not consider poetry to be “their thing?”

Poetry is not what a lot of people think it is. They think it is what they were forced to read in high school, or they think it is something extra high brow that is for the elite, or they think it is old and gone, perhaps. But poetry is every day. It is just out here being poetry. It is at every level and poets are everywhere. There’s poetry for every person and if there is not that just means it is up to you to write that poetry, to be the poetry for the person you are and you will find you are not alone – that your words might speak to others and be poetry for them. 

One last question, do you define your poetry or does your poetry define you? Why?

I think it has to be both. We are a co-creation. I have been writing poetry since I was a kid and it has been this one thing in my life that I always felt made me the most me. And I felt, and feel, that it made me different and cool, in a nerd way. I was the go-to poet in my high school and in college I would hold gatherings to celebrate various poets and writers on their birthdays. Poetry was my thing, and it was also me, how I was known, how I was seen by others. 

But, then I went years without poetry and those years were some pretty bad years – in an abusive relationship, feeling trapped, living with a narcissistic person who would gaslight me daily, etc. – this person said I was a bad writer, a terrible poet, and an all around awful person, so, you know how it is. To make peace in that space I silenced myself. Big mistake, of course. We all know that on some level but when you feel truly trapped – no money, isolated, everything taken from you externally and internally – self-silencing to just get by seems to happen as some kind of protective shield. 

Those dark days are gone, I have found my voice again, and I know better than to ever let her go, silence her, crush her, and so on. So, poetry saved me, and I respect and cherish poetry, my own poetry and poetry in general as this sort of superpower of words that can rescue and heal.

 

To follow this poet:

Personal website: Jenny Justice, Writer
Medium link: Jenny Justice
Medium poetry publications: Justice Poetic 
Newsletter: Jenny Justice Newsletter
Author page Amazon: Jenny Justice, Amazon Author 
Author page Goodreads: Jenny Justice, Goodreads Author 
Book sales link: Love in the Time of Climate Change
Other: Patreon Page, Jenny Justice


 

Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

10 Creative Ways to Spend Your Social Distancing Time

The Fiddlehead Life–a blog series on Living Well

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

The Fiddlehead Life series is a blog series dedicated to bringing you actionable strategies for improving your life, analyzing various topics on well-living, and a has strong focus on personal growth. A wide variety of topics will be covered. Come and join the movement to live your best life.


We are so spoiled. We come and go from our homes with relative ease. We go to places. We get things. We bring things home. Rinse. Repeat. It’s not often we are told to stay home. It gets us a bit miffed. Like, what the heck are we supposed to do with all this time at home? It’s not like we don’t always wish we had more time at home.

Here we are in the midst of a global pandemic, panic and anxiety on the rise, and we are being told to practice social distancing in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus, Covid-19.

We can spend this time
pacing the floor,
or we can do the things
we never have time to do.

YOU CHOOSE.

Here’s a few fun things to help you occupy your time with a playful and positive spirit.

Netflix and chill.

  • Watch a series you’ve been meaning to see.
  • Break out the popcorn and turn down the lights.
  • Re-watch a favorite movie.
  • Go down the wormhole of internet videos on cats jumping off stuff, screaming goats, Tik Tok music videos, how-it’s-made stuff, conspiracy theories, or ghost stories. (Now, you have time!)

Work a jigsaw puzzle.

  • Break out those dusty boxes of jigsaw puzzles from the top of the closet, clean off a table, and put on some music. Jigsaw away the hours — you’d be surprised how soothing it is to sit with a puzzle. Get the whole family involved!
  • Add a jigsaw puzzle app to your tablet or phone (Here’s the one I like.)

Do a craft project or a project around the house.

  • Break out the WIP that’s been collecting dust.
  • Learn a new craft — YouTube is great for tutorials!
  • Build something. Sand something. Paint something.
  • Fix something around the house that’s been patiently waiting for your attention.

Read a book.

  • Yes, this ancient practice is something people still do.
  • If you can’t find a book around the house — find books online that you can download.
  • Read some poetry.
  • Re-read an old favorite.
  • Read to your kids.

Spend time with your family.

  • Play board games, watch movies, take turns telling jokes or making up ghost stories — treat this like a sleepover fun time!
  • Have a dance party. Seriously, kids love this.
  • Let your kids plan an activity or put on a show for you.
  • Whip out your best fun face and show your kids a more relaxed side of you.
  • Cuddle.
  • Play games or make up new games.

Spend time with your dog.

  • Remember, you may be bored being stuck at home — but your dog is ecstatic. Your dog’s whole life is YOU.
  • Cuddle with your dog (or other pet).
  • Give your dog a bath and grooming.
  • Spend some time sprucing up your dog’s living area — wash their bedding or bowls. Give them a treat.
  • Play with your dog!

Catch up on your correspondence.

  • Call your Mom. Call your Dad. Call a friend. Call your Aunt you haven’t talked to in awhile.
  • Write a letter or card.
  • Answer your emails. (While you’re at it — deal with those 3000 unread ones.)
  • Touch base with potential career contacts or reach out to lingering loose ends.
  • Check out what’s going on with your social media friends.
  • Go down the heritage rabbit hole — maybe you’ll find a long lost relative!

Exercise.

  • Get out that home exercise equipment and give it a go!
  • Do some yoga.
  • Find a YouTube video to teach you a new routine.
  • Take a walk around your home.

Bake something.

  • Ask Alexa for a new cookie recipe.
  • Flip through your recipe books and pick something fun to try.
  • Cook and prepare meals to freeze.
  • Make a cake and decorate it.
  • Teach your kids a new cooking skill.

Clean & organize your life.

  • There’s no time like downtime to freshen up your home.
  • Clean the floors, wash the curtains, de-clutter a closet or drawer.
  • Work on a fix-it home project.
  • Rearrange a room.
  • Air out your home, burn some sage, steep some spices in a pot of water on the stove to give your home a fresh, clean smell.

Being stuck at home is only a punishment if you view it that way.

You’re always pressed for time, wishing you had time, feeling like time is so fleeting — now that you have some, spend it wisely and relax.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the pandemic–I think some of you may like. Especially that last line…

Soon, you’ll be back to your busy life and you’ll feel more refreshed and centered if you’ve invested a bit of time in play, in your home, and in your family.

If you’d like to share your downtime activities and how you’re keeping sane through this whole pandemic–share them in the comments below. If you or a loved one is sick and you need a little support–share that as well so we, as a community of people who are out there doing our best to be good humans, can offer our support.

Stay safe my friends and wash your hands–like, a lot.

Christina M. Ward
well-life blogger and author of organic

Introducing Poet Laura Manipura

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #11

Laura Manipura, poet

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Laura Manipura

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.

Hello poetry friends.

Today I bring to you the story of a lovely poet named Laura Manipura, whose life is rich with interest. I find myself wanting to know more about her and the experiences she’s had just from her intro! I hope you’ll spend some time here with me today celebrating this free-spirited, deep-thinking poet who brings so much to the world through her words.

About this poet

I was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but being a navy brat, I was moved around a bit before returning to attend college. In 1996, I was called by Mother Nature and father guru to move to Roanoke, Virginia and then from there to a small spiritual community.

According to the Past Lives Deck by Doreen Virtue, I have been writing for lifetimes.  But in this birth, writing began with reading. As a shy, introverted child, I preferred the company of words and began reading at an early age.  I learned it from my mother, who learned it from her father. My grandfather used to stay up so late reading that he would ask my mother to go to the phone on the corner to call in sick for him.

–Laura Manipura

The Interview

Tell me about how you came to be a poet.

I used to attend a weekly Sunday night “Praise Jam” in a community two hours from where I lived. I was surrounded by singing bowls, chimes, and rain sticks; all inviting me to play. There were poetry books in the center of the circle; Rumi, Hafiz & David Whyte. Sometimes people would sing, other times read poetry, play instruments, or just make animal noises.  Ever the introvert, I was surprised when I started reading poetry aloud. So tender, so raw; it moved me to tears. I’d drive home after that, singing my mantra to stay awake, then climbing into bed late; only to awaken before dawn all on fire with pretty words.

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

How do I choose just one?  Holy Jeans is a social commentary while Sister’s on the Wheel represents a time in my life when I suffered through the pain of being rejected in love.  Both pieces are unique for me, as they weave stories with mystery. I am usually more straightforward in my writing.

I am the bowl God holds to the light,
after the fire, turning me this way and that,
throwing me against the wall,
I shatter into a million pieces.

The lady of the house comes,
in her long flowing gown,
to sweep me up.
She dances with the broom,
singing God’s name.

And the world turns, and the world turns…


Read the rest of Holy Jeans

And the second poem…

A forest giant crosses my path,
And I am homeless once again,
As he brushes my lace from his bearded face.
I have seen you twist that hair before.
Its endless, the twisting, a hairy dance.

Everything we do takes us away.


Read the rest of Sisters on the Wheel

What is your greatest hope with regards to your poetry?

I enjoy it when readers comment and tell me they are touched, inspired, or drawn in by the imagery. To be honest though, it’s very important to me that my awesome talent is recognized in the world.  I have heard it said that talent comes from God. I’m not sure, but I do know that words sometime spill out of me effortlessly. Being unemployed though, I would really like to earn money as a writer, doing something I enjoy, without the pressure to meet the expectations of others. But, we are never free of that; are we?

Does your poetry have a message or a theme that you want to portray to the world?

No, not really.  I am most often deeply inspired by the heartbreak and yearning of unrequited love.  I quite enjoy the pain and depths of emotion. It’s interesting to now to go back and read my mother’s collection of love poems.  I suspect there is a lot of pain there as well, but she won’t share until my father passes on.


Did you know I did not seek to love you?
You crept into my life like morning mist
gently gliding in upon the earth below.


excerpt–Like Morning Mist, by Laura’s mother (poetry runs in the family!)

How do your poems come to you? And how do you take them from the initial inspiration to the final poem? Tell me about your writing process.

Poetry comes when I am relaxing away from my computer, either in the bed sleeping, or in the bath.  I have learned to pay attention to that call and immediately get up to write it down before I lose it.  Just yesterday I discovered the voice recorder application on my phone. Let the fun begin. That said, there also times when only two verses come out and then I am left with an unfinished poem sitting in my drafts folder for months.

One last question, what would you say to readers who do not normally read poetry to encourage them to read the genre?

Did you know that music is poetry?  Listen to the words of Leonard Cohen, when he says “Ring the bell that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.”  Listen to music; maybe rap music, read children’s poetry, watch documentaries about poets. Then, if you feel inspired to write, start with writing prompts, or adding a new verse to a favorite poem.  Acrostic poetry is an easy way to start. Think of a word; like writer, and then start the first line with the letter, W, the second line with the letter R, and so on.


Many thanks to Laura for sharing a bit of her life with us–if you’d like to follow Laura’s work you may find her on Medium:

Medium link: Laura Manipura
Medium poetry publications: From the Library


Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

Let Me Tell You About Poet Susan Brearley

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #10

poet Susan Brearley

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Susan Brearley

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.

Welcome friends and poetry lovers,

Today we celebrate Susan Brearley–and if you know her then you know her sense of humor and charismatic presence precedes her! But in case you didn’t know, she’s a gifted poet. I’m excited to shine the spotlight on her today, illuminate some of her work for you, and share a personal interview with Susan about her work.

King of the cresteds

Master of the wooded lands

All bow to his song.

–Susan Brearley, Zen 145

Susan lives in the beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley, right around the corner from Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage, Val-kill. She’s been living in the region since the early 1980’s, but originally hails from the Amish country in Pennsylvania. All of that sounds pretty dreamy and poetic to me! I think both would be a lovely places to visit.

Susan was a top student in every English, writing and composition class she ever took, showing early on her gift with words.  She’s tutored, written for local newspapers, and was the editor for her college newspaper. Today, she shares her work on the Medium platform, which is where I had the pleasure of meeting her. She is a Top Writer in the Poetry badge, among others including Cooking, Women In Tech, Satire, Ideas, Short Story, Reading, Travel, This Happened To Me, Humor, and Food.

Susan writes free verse poetry, haiku, and tanka but is especially fond of haiku. I asked Susan about her work, her inspiration and writing process, and her thoughts on poetry–here’s my brief interview with Susan and a bit of her work.

The interview

Tell me about how you came to be a poet. 

I was going through a relationship break up.  It was a great outlet for all the emotions I was experiencing.  I was also spending a lot of time in nature, hiking and meditating.  That led to my love of the haiku and tanka forms. I love their simplicity.

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

I love all my haiku’s.  But there are some free verse that I love more.  I love Nashville Eclipse Encounter, because I was feeling the energy of Nashville, its people, and the anticipation of waiting for the total solar eclipse.  The poem helps me tap into the feeling of that each time I re-read it.

Nashville Eclipse Encounter

I see you.

You see me.

who are all these people sliding by us, as we spirit connect in voice and music and vibration

As the tone is rung, as the sound energy spreads, as it ripples out and touches the substance, the carbon, the elements where it vibrates and resists, it bounces like a rubber ball against a wall.

What are these forms, these shape shifters?

where are the code shifters who sense the tone who feel the spirit who absorb the word who bounce it back?

They are there, waiting for the tones. For their tones, for their word, for their circle, to catch the seed the dandelion casts, the pebble the creation drops, to touch the ripple, to feel the touch, to feel the movement of the tone from this tone to the next tone, to bounce from wave to wave.

or just to surf.

Nashville Eclipse Encounter

I’m also a fan of this one, and it turns out, many people like it too.  It’s fun to do as spoken word at open mikes.

Don’t Wash My Dishes

It’s my meditation

my mental salvation

my soul’s libation.

I stand at this window

hands immersed in suds,

and scrubbing the chunks,

the slime, the grime, til there’s no line or twine,

only shine.

And all the time…

Toe to toe with the oaks,

the birds, the porcupines

I’m disinclined to release

this sublime

moment to another.

Unless, it’s also your meditation time.

Don’t Wash My Dishes

 I have a lot of my favorites published on Medium before I knew what I was doing there, and before I had become connected with the poet community there.

What is your greatest hope with regards to your poetry?   

Someday I wouldn’t mind having a collection published and out on amazon.

Does your poetry have a message or a theme that you want to portray to the world?

I love nature and exploring all the ways that everything in the universe is connected.

How do your poems come to you? And how do you take them from the initial inspiration to the final poem? Tell me about your writing process.

I frequently go for walks in nature.  If I spend a day on top of a mountain, standing with the trees, lakes and rivers, the words just come to me.  They pop into my mind based on what I’m seeing, hearing and feeling all around me. That’s my favorite way to write. 

Sometimes I will wake up with a poem in my mind right in those early moments of the day.  I keep a journal by my bedside so I don’t lose those. I feel like they are gift from the universe.  I honestly don’t know how it all works, but when I stay open to receiving them, they just come. I know that sounds mystical.  And it feels mystical to me too.

One last question, what would you say to readers who do not normally read poetry to encourage them to read the genre?  

There are so many people writing amazing poetry.  One of the best ways to find more great poetry to read, is to ask a poet who their favorite poets are, living, or dead.  Because every poet has favorites in both categories.


Thank you for reading about this featured poet. Please see her links below, give her a follow, a comment of support, or just hover and wait for her to do something hilarious—you won’t have to wait long!

Follow Susan on Medium

–where you can find her work in the following pubs: House of Haiku, Haiku Hub, Romance Monsters, Rhyme Zone, A Cornered Gurl, Contemplate, From the Poet’s Heart, Law Of Connections, Literally Literary, MuddyUm, Scribe, Sonnetry

Join Susan’s newsletter!

By the way–Susan adds “But if you sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Medium, you’ll find out about all the new ways to connect with me.  Let’s not rush things. I don’t know you that well yet.”

–See what I mean?
(Susan–you brighten my life with your wit.)

I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

Get Excited about Your Life–Can You Project Happiness into Your Future?

Hi friends,

This week is rounding out a few-week-long stretch of a “pain event” for me. I did get to the doctor a few days ago and they put me back on some muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. The referral is in now—ortho and most likely a spinal surgeon. Fun times huh?

So why am I smiling?

For today, being in relatively little pain: I am ecstatic. Low pain days are a rarity lately—so I am thrilled!

Tonight, I am chilled out watching Survivor. I mean, what could be better? I freaking love reality tv shows, especially Survivor.

Tomorrow, I am going with my Mom for a day trip to the Carl Sandburg (poet) historical home. SWEET!

Mindfulness—Check ✔

Gratitude—Check ✔

But I’ve been thinking (don’t run away just yet!)

—that these are things we can do in advance. Why can’t we be in a state of mindfulness about tomorrow? About next week?

I’m pretty sure this is a thing, right?

Consider some of the “keys to happiness” that Forbes magazine outlines in an August 2019 article entitled How To Be Happy: 20 Ways To Be Happier Today by Zack Friedman, bestselling Author of The Lemonade Life.

Here are a few of his suggestions to be happier today:

  • Gratitude
  • Look for the good in things
  • Believe that you have the power to change your life
  • Practice happiness
  • Have an open mind

How to Be Happy, by Zach Friedman

If I could have a quick cup of coffee with Mr. Friedman, I’d first thank him for a wonderful article, but then I’d ask him if he thought these things can be done in advance.

Can we project -gratitude -looking for the positive -hope, -happiness and -open-mindedness about our life and our future–into the days ahead?

I think that we can.

I have recently begun working in the Monk Manual, which if you have not heard of it–I fully recommend it. (I’ll be writing about this manual soon because I just love it!) Each morning I get up I fill out the plans for the day and at the end of the day I review my day. One thing I am learning is how much I enjoy simplifying my hopes way down to a few things and then evaluating the impact those things have had on my day.

It is forcing me to look ahead with hope. Think about my main goals as I go through my day–and then to celebrate what I have done. I find my mind bending toward hope. I find myself looking forward to tomorrow with a more simple intention and a larger sense of gratitude. These were by-products of my time in the Monk Manual–4 days into use.

I think that we can be in a state of awareness, an attitude of presence in our lives, even in those moments that are still on the horizon.

Christina

What if we spent our todays in an attitude of gratitude for our tomorrows? Let our gratitude extend out past where we are sitting—to greet our future—already happy?

Tonight, I am practicing mindful presence in these precious low-pain moments. I am thankful for the opportunity to go and spend some time tomorrow with my Mom. I am celebrating the silly—tv shows and songs and laughs and whatever small things that I enjoy.

And I am deciding that I will pick something about tomorrow to get excited about. Tomorrow, it’s easy for me: the trip with my Mom. But what about the next day? When nothing special is happening? I’ll pick something for that day as well.

How much more rich would our lives be if we could do this as a daily practice—pick something about tomorrow to get excited about?

What are you excited about in your life? If it’s something as simple as a nice cup of coffee in the morning or a new pair of socks—if it makes you happy, then it is certainly worth celebrating.

Poetically Yours,
Christina Ward


poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

Introducing Poet Ashwini N. Dodani

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #9

Ashwini Dodani, my poet friend

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Ashwini N. Dodani

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.

In the name of art or otherwise,

the need to understand emergency

of survival, existence and empathy,

we must unite, we must unite

from For Peace by Ashwini N. Dodani

About a year ago I began sharing my work on a platform called Medium.com. It didn’t take me long to start meeting other poets and building a beautiful community of poets and writers. I began a group on Facebook to support these poets from the Medium platform and it gained quickly in popularity.

It wasn’t long after I began running the group that I was approached via message from some guy named Ashwini, who was very excited about the group and wanted to be an admin so that he could help run the group.

I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t really know this guy and I also didn’t really know what I was doing running a Facebook group for the first time. I took a chance and said yes.

I have to say, it has been a huge blessing in my life to work with this fine young man. I am so grateful for his sweet spirit! And today, I am going to share with you a little bit about my friend Ashwini and his poetic works.

Ashwini is originally from Ahmedabad, India but has lived in Mumbai for the past 7 years. What a wonderfully small world to have brought us together through poetry. I am grateful to have the honor of working with this emotional, kind, helpful poet, who spends a lot of his time simply trying to uplift other people and make the world around him a better place. He does a lot of this through his writing and his poetry but he also leaves lovely comments for other people and encourages other writers around him on a regular basis.

Ashwini has been a blogger for 10 years and has transitioned from blogging into also writing poetry which is now his passion. He is the author of Savoir Faire: Do the WRITE thing (which is fantastic–I have the eBook copy).

Aside from his published poetry collection and his work on Medium (for the past 5 years), Ashwini has been interviewed on various websites like Writer’s Melon, Vowelor, and Lettrs. On Medium he is a writer for 40+ publications with some big names like The Start Up, The Writing Co-operative, P.S I Love You, Be Yourself, Invisible Illness, and Lit Up to name a few. Ashwini also runs his own publication titled From The Poet’s Heart (a home to 120+ writers and 800+ followers). He’s also written for Huffington Post India.

Ashwini’s personal blog was named in the Top 10 Indian Poetry Blogs – 2018 (Bonus App) and Top 16 Poetry Blogs in India – 2015 (Baggout). He has also been named in the Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencers – 2019 (Browser Media using Buzz Sumo). He also maintains a big influence on his TikTok profile where one of his videos recently reached viral viewership with 22K likes! TikTok video on Palindrome.


I am excited to bring you the interview with Ashwini on his work, what inspires him, and his thoughts on the genre of poetry. Please enjoy this poetry spotlight on Ashwini Dodani.

Tell me about your writing process with regards to writing poetry, specifically.

My writing process has been very simple. Whatever I observe and experience, I feel inspired from, I write about it. It can be as abstract as writing about a pair of glasses or dustbin to writing the most sensual sexual poetry, it depends on the imagination, need and mind. The creative process is simple for me, something that I feel when it needs to be more than just in my mind and heart, it reaches the paper/blog.

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

It’s very difficult to find one poem that is special because I might have written hundreds – long and short. However, whenever I am asked, this special poem always comes in handy. It was also the last poem in my published poetry book. The reason why it is special is because I tried and wore shoes of another gender and looked from their eyes how the world might feel. I will leave it at that.

That Beautiful Kohl Eyed Girl

Every morning I dress my self with a smile,
That little tinge of make up all the while,
To make my self more confident,
I wear the attitude in my eyes..

The walk of my life I don’t want to show,
The beauty of inside, that ignored glow,
Today I chose to be happy over others,
For more I live, the more granted I become for thee..

If only you can see the darkness behind my Kohl,
If only you could listen the sob in the shoes sole,
If only my accessories define you my pain,
You wouldn’t have asked me to wear those all again..

Again a new day, Again that new fay,
Again I believe that sunshine would be mine,
But the night has to come to cover me with the dark
Today don’t judge me with maidenhead broken apart..

What you see is what I have chosen to show you,
What you listen to is what I have chosen again,
When I shed my tears, the world has a different universe,
And then they say what’s the reason of Apocalypse?

Keep in mind next time you see a beautiful young lass,
It’s an option over choice to look like that,
If she could cover the misery so easily,
She could have remain in white for the rest of her Life.

 Originally published here

If you had a piece of advice for other poets, what would that be?

Do not hesitate in making writing mistakes.

Do not get bogged down by constructive criticism.

The more you give, the more you might not get, but relationships over anything.

Make friends. Make poet friends.

What would you say to people who may not consider poetry to be “their thing?”

It’s okay. Your life, your choice. I’d simply ask you to taste it once when you feel life is nothing but a box of bees. 😉

One last question, do you define your poetry or does your poetry define you? Why?

We both are good friends. Sometimes I do, sometimes it does. We’d rather move beyond definitions.

Because, we don’t restrict each other. We are here to love, laugh and rejoice in good words, imagination, experiences and empathy.

I thank Ashwini for sharing a bit of his work with us. Keep writing, my friend.

If you (dear reader) would like to follow Ashwini’s work, or just reach out to him in support, here are the links for his work and social media:

Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

A Poet You Should Know: Samantha Lazar

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #8

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Samantha Lazar

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.


I am excited to bring you another issue of the Through the Eyes of a Poet series; a series I hope you are enjoying. It is a true blessing to me to bring you the stories of these creative spirits. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a poet friend of mine, Samantha Lazar.

Samantha is originally from Madison, Wisconsin but now lives in my home state, North Carolina. We toss around the idea of having coffee together sometime when I am out her way–and if the poetic stars align, we shall.

Samantha was a born storyteller.

Her family reports that she has been telling stories since she first learned to talk. Today, she tells stories through poetry. Her poetic spirit came alive very early in her life. She spent a lot of time alongside the feed corn fields in Wisconsin, dreaming she was a doctor to the faeries, making dandelion chains, and making up stories in her head. Her love for this time in nature has brought her to poetry. What began as an escape for her from childhood trauma, the dissension in her parents’ relationship, and her father’s recurring illnesses, became a way to express herself through creativity.

Samantha’s education has prepared her for a successful writing life. She has a Bachelor of Science in English and Education with a concentration in creative writing from Appalachian State University, as well as a Masters in Education, with major in Academically, Intellectually Gifted Education (AIG). She’s been teaching writing, English, and Language Arts to students of all ages since 1998.

Samantha is a Top Writer in Poetry on the Medium platform. For those of you unfamiliar with exactly what that is; Medium has Top Writer status in many of their tags and only 50 of their writers obtain this status for each tag. To be one of them is an honor, especially in the highly competitive Poetry tag. Samantha publishes her work on Medium as well as on Samantha’s personal website. She’s currently working on 2 projects for publication so be sure to follow her (links at the bottom) to stay informed!

Without further adieu, here’s an interview with Samantha on her body of work, her vision, and her thoughts on the poetic genre:

Describe the vision / style / content / etc of your poetry?:

I write mostly free verse poetry about a variety of topics.  I write often about nature and my observations during daily life.  I tend to write emotional pieces about life, motherhood, healing from childhood trauma, the state of the world.  I also enjoy rhyme and rhythm.

Tell me about your writing process with regards to writing poetry, specifically.

Any time I think of an idea for a poem, I write it down. I will grab a scrap of paper, if my notebooks are not with me, or I will use the notes app on my phone. I do not want to let amazing details slip by.

My students (I teach 5th grade) say remarkable things. Their wisdom sparks curiosity in me. I write questions and words and make a million lists.  Then I sit down to write my poem. I combine thoughts together. If I feel something while I am writing (usually this comes in the form of jitters in my solar plexus) then I know I am on to something.  

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

One poem that is very special to me is titled Yom Hashoah.

Yom Hashoah is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Hebrew, “shoah” means “whirlwind”or the catastrophe. One of the traditions on this day is to read aloud the list of names of people who perished.  People take turns reading the names all day. A few years ago, I wrote this poem after spending 20 minutes reading names from the children’s list.

(excerpt)

Their names slip from the list
to my lips
and they are the flame

the uprising
the hope
of the forgotten

Not even a whirlwind cyclone of
hate sprayed
fear epidemics
could un-light these flames

Read this poem in full at: Yom Hashoah


This poem can also be listened to, as recorded by the poet:

Listen to Yom Hashoah

If you had a piece of advice for other poets, what would that be?

Poets need sacred pauses. Stop to notice your life. Recognize yourself for a moment.  It is important to allow your senses to find the words.

What would you say to people who may not consider poetry to be “their thing?”

I would ask them, What is your thing? When they tell me what their thing is, I would ask them to describe why their thing is their thing. Then I would ask them to tell me how their thing looks, tastes, smells, feels, sounds and any of their favorite memories associated with their thing. Then I would tell them that they just wrote a poem.

One last question, do you define your poetry or does your poetry define you? Why?

I do not want anything to really define me. If my poetry defines me, then it is up to the reader to say who I am. That is limiting. My poetry can help piece together the parts of me that I share. So in that essence, I suppose I define my poetry.


I am sad to report that Samantha lost her father due to illness this past week. She wrote the following poem about her experience.

in the rough
you recognized me
your blue eyes, blazing
searched the surface
for the mouth that tried
to sing to you
to help you sink back
away from the pain
impatient hearts
are still strong
broken bodies still heal
if they take a chance
to live

Hearts
by Samantha Lazar (written for her father who passed away this past week)

Thank you Samantha for taking some time to share your beautiful work with us. The poetry community also reaches out with empathy in this difficult time for you and your family. I know that writing can be very healing, cathartic, and can get us through the most turbulent times. May poetry be there for you when you need it most, my friend.

Christina

Follow Samantha’s body of work or connect with her on social media:

Personal website: Samantha Lazar Writing

Medium link: Samantha Lazar on Medium

Medium poetry publications: Sky Collection Project by Samantha Lazar

Newsletter:  Subscribe to my newsletter. Other:  Twitter




Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

When Life is a Series of “Monday Mornings”

The Fiddlehead Life series

My favorite cartoon character is Ziggy, by creator Tom Wilson. He’s a chubby little guy with lots of pets who seem to take over his house. And pretty much anything that can go wrong for him does–but he takes it all in stride. He keeps on. He stays positive (or at least neutral and somewhat ironically oblivious), even though his life seems to be one long Monday morning.

I have often said that I lead a “Ziggy life,” and I really, really do. Counting up my woes can be a tempting habit; one that I fight against and try to keep in check. Life, as our little bald friend Ziggy teaches us, is full of ironies, disappointments, and confusions, but with a few good friends and a curious nature, we can navigate it positively.

Today’s Live Your Best Life message:

Keep going.

That’s it. Two simple words that can often feel very big, especially if life seems to be “picking on you” lately. You may not be able to change the situation, but you can always change how you respond to it.

Adopting a little positive thinking goes a very long way to keep your mind and body healthy.

Johns Hopkins Medicine details a few of the health benefits of a positive attitude, and some of these physical benefits may surprise you:

  • studies have found that a positive attitude improves outcomes and life satisfaction across a spectrum of conditions—including traumatic brain injury, stroke and brain tumors.
  • even people with a family history of heart disease are one-third less likely to have a heart attack when they have an attitude of positivity (compared to those with a more negative outlook)

Very Well Mind reports that a positive attitude can help with:

  • Longer life span
  • Less stress
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Increased resistance to the common cold
  • Better stress management and coping skills
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death
  • Increased physical well-being
  • Better psychological health

You may not be able to change the situation, but you can always change how you respond to it.

Christina

Choosing Positivity

So how do we do this? When the car won’t start or the job is getting on your very last nerve? When you buy 200 dollars worth of long-overdue groceries, pack the freezer, and then the freezer dies overnight?

To be honest, it takes work. It takes a deliberate choice, each day, and when it gets tough, each minute.

Choosing an optimistic view means changing your perspective on what would normally feel to you like a negative experience.

When something negative happens:

  • Try not to make it “bigger” than it is. All to often I hear someone lamenting over a problem and my first thought is–that is really not a problem. This is not meant to be dismissive, as we all face challenges, but intentionally making a problem bigger than it is will just cause you more grief. Try taking a step back from the problem and thinking ok, what are the solutions? In the long run, will this matter all that much? Is this really something to get all bent out of shape about? How might I make the best of this situation?
  • Consider every challenge an opportunity. A chance to think outside the box. A chance to offer compassion. A chance to demonstrate your strength of character. An opportunity to rise above the situation and overcome. These things are self-esteem boosters, at the least.
  • Take a deep breath. Don’t dismiss the power of a deep cleansing breath. This lowers your blood pressure, centers your thoughts, and puts you in a better frame of mind to deal with the issue at hand.
  • Realize your own limits. Can you solve every problem? Of course not. Sometimes a level of acceptance and decision to allow a situation to just be will help you to release yourself from the responsibility you feel to fix or change things that are out of your control. The well-known Serenity Prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) embodies this perfectly. Though you are likely more familiar with the truncated version of this prayer, here is the full version which began appearing in sermons as early as 1934.

Prayer for Serenity

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

  • Not feeling the Serenity Prayer? Find a mantra, a poem, a quote, a song–something that grounds you in times of trouble, and cling to that when things get difficult. Find your strength and hold on.
  • Do something to distract yourself from the frustration. Listen to classical music. Exercise. Take a walk. We all have activities that help us to calm ourselves. Put those activities into action when your life seems out of control. You’d be surprised how much clarity a simple 5 minute walk can bring.
  • Reach out to your support network. Notice I didn’t say phone a friend and vent until you run out of breath–this can be a tempting way to manage problems but in the long run it will tax your relationship and create a negative way of coping. Keet “venting” in check as it leads to more negative emotions.
  • Have yourself a quick cry–then get on with it. Constructive crying can help to clear the air for you and hit the reset button on your emotions. Like venting, this is one to use constructively and wisely, not overly and widely. A well-used cry can be a good way to just let the emotion out a bit and reduce the pressure you are feeling. I used to play a very sad song, have a bit of a cry, then turn off the music, take a few deep breaths, wipe my face and set my jaw to move forward with an “ok, let’s do this” attitude. I can’t tell you how this came in handy when I was a single mother in college–every day was so difficult. Sometimes crying was impossible to avoid–but I learned not to let it overwhelm me or take over my whole attitude. I learned, crying had function.

Have any other tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments. Give this article a quick “like” and share if you found it helpful. Thank you for being here with me on this “best life” journey. I hope today you find your strength and your peace to navigate the rough spots. YOU CAN DO THIS.

~Christina Ward

–author of “organic,” a poetry collection that sits at the heart of this “Live Your Best Life” movement.

You may find this bestselling collection on Amazon at ORGANIC–FIDDLEHEADS & FLOSS VOL. 1

Spotlight on Poet Elaine Hamilton

Through the Eyes of a Poet series #7

Elaine Hamilton, poet

Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Elaine Hamilton

Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.

For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a poet that I am familiar with on the Medium platform, and who writes for my personal Medium publication, Fiddleheads & Floss. Elaine Hamilton lives in Seattle, Washington and has been writing poetry for over 10 years. Though, she wasn’t always “open” as a person to the idea of calling herself a poet, poetry has allowed her a way to communicate herself to the world. As she opened up through her poetry, beautiful growth has allowed her to reach deep and inspire others. Poetry really is a way to communicate our hearts to others. She told me a bit about this sentiment and how it has made an impact in her life:

I really didn’t set out to become a writer or poet ( for that matter), It was something that I enjoyed doing, a form of escapism, a way to  bring a little magic into my life and let my creativity take hold. Little by little as I became more comfortable, I began letting a side of me show that I often hide in the real world.

I decided to let my love of nature, spirituality and my whimsical nature come out to play and this is what happened. Three books later, I guess I can say that I’ve found my niche. I love using words to inspire and to make people think, as well as take them to another place. 

Elaine Hamilton, on relating to the world through poetry

On this note, I invite you to read a bit about Elaine’s journey as a poet, the hopes she has for her writing, and her thoughts on the genre. Enjoy this poet’s interview:


Tell me about how you came to be a poet.

I started by doing vision (motivational) boards in high school. I found it easier to write poetry rather than longer, fictional stories. I can often take a photo and write something that matches it, or be inspired by a phrase or word prompt. I’m a “what if” person.

Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.

Just one? Lol! That’s a difficult choice. Most of my poetry has a backstory of some sort. I like to see the realness of people, not just a facade or the glitter. One of my favorite poems is “Illusions.” This one has an interesting backstory, as I was inspired by the reflections of water in a water bottle. Just as there are many facets of a diamond, there are many sides to a person, often what we see can be an illusion.

Illusions

You left me with far too many questions. I don’t know what to believe anymore.
All I have is illusions.

Tell me what is true.
I once believed in you.
I want to know who you really are.
And I don’t want to hold fake diamonds in my hands.

People, places, and things. Memories from long ago.
Turning heads wherever you may be.

City nights. Ruby lights.
Turning your head away from what you don’t want the pretty crowds to see.

Do you remember?
I wonder, do you ever think of me?

Are you happy at the end of the day?
Are you ever lonely when you turn the key?

Hotel rooms and flights.
Luggage lost and silly fights.
Chauffeured limousines.

First class seats.
VIP treats.
That never was my scene.

Beautiful illusion.
Do you know who you are inside?
Show me something real.

What is your greatest hope with regards to your poetry?

I simply wish to inspire, even if it is just one heart or one mind. While it would be nice to have an editor or publication notice, it isn’t really necessary. 

Does your poetry have a message or a theme that you want to portray to the world?

It doesn’t particularly have a theme. Sometimes I write from deep, raw emotion, other times I write about experiences from my perspective. 

How do your poems come to you? And how do you take them from the initial inspiration to the final poem? Tell me about your writing process.

Often the words just form themselves. I can be inspired from people watching, going for a walk or from a photo or prompt. I’ll write a few lines here and there, let it sit for a while, then go back. Sometimes, I get lucky and it will all flow nicely and have a voice. Other times, I need to flesh it out a bit more. I’m notorious for struggling on the last few lines, trying to make it have an impact or even the final word so that it will have a meaningful ending. 

One last question, what would you say to readers who do not normally read poetry to encourage them to read the genre?

Poetry can be difficult to get through, to grasp the meaning, but if you look deep inside the words, that is where the true gems lie. It is the heart and soul of a writer. We are sharing deep emotion, and that’s the best way to get to know us. We are passionate creatures, and we let a side of us show in everything we create. 


One of Elaine’s poems that particularly stands out to me is one that she wrote in response to a Fiddleheads & Floss POMprompt (which is an F&F sponsored prompt series on Medium). It is called The Writer and gives us a beautiful glimpse into Elaine’s heart as a writer and what the process feels like to her. Here is an excerpt from that poem:

She sits, looking out upon a field of green.
Seeing things, that often through the naked eye, remains unseen.
A writer, a poet, a dreamer of dreams.
Someone who knows that all is not exactly as it seems.

There is another world out there, one that often calls her.
To feel, to live, to breath, and it enthralls her.

Continue reading The Writer

Many thanks to Elaine for sharing a bit of her work with Fiddleheads & Floss followers–we love to be inspired!


Elaine’s contact /website information:

Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.

Poetically yours,
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
Become a fan
Purchase ::organic:: (My first poetry collection–5 ⭐ reviews and reaching BEST SELLER status for poetry books about nature!)

Exploring Meditation for Health and Mental Wellness

The Fiddlehead Life series–Living Well

Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

To begin this “The Fiddlehead Life” series, I am beginning with a “biggie” that is such a broad topic, some background and information is essential. Though this article is a bit longer, I encourage you to be open and potentially see something in a different way. I wish you the best on your wellness journey! Thank you for being here, for being a wellness-seeker, and for wishing to live better. This series will bring all kinds of topics and you are welcome to apply the parts that most appeal to you. There is an activity at the bottom of this article. Let’s get started.

Meditation may not be what you think.

I’ll be honest, as a Christian, I have always been a bit hesitant to consider a meditation practice. But after doctor after doctor has recommended meditation to me, I have been learning about it, bit by bit. The important thing to remember with meditation is that there are many methods and applications. Meditation can be adapted to suit your personal spiritual beliefs (therefore, I adapt the physical practice with my Christian beliefs and incorporate prayer), can focus entirely on physical wellness without the spiritual aspect (also an option for me), and can be tailored to your own personal desires.

The end goal is up to you. The “rules” are up to you. Learn what you can about meditation in its many forms and you can be sure to find the aspects of this ancient practice that will bring a greater sense of peace and wellness to your life, both physically and mentally, and if you seek it–spiritually.

Where did meditation originate?

Though meditation got its start in the Hindu practice of Vendatism around 1500 BCE, roots of meditative practices can be traced back to Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to name a few. Though meditation has a strong connection to spirituality, the mental health and physical benefits are undeniable. To put it simply: there are many ways to meditate and many reasons to develop a meditation practice that works for your lifestyle, your needs, and your spiritual beliefs.

Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay

The Argument for Meditation:

US Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health gives us information about the science behind meditation, and I recommend browsing the multiple links on their page for more in-depth information on this, if you would like to know more. Here is some information I found:

Meditation and the Brain

Some research suggests that meditation may physically change the brain and body and could potentially help to improve many health problems and promote healthy behaviors.

  • In a 2012 study, researchers compared brain images from 50 adults who meditate and 50 adults who don’t meditate. Results suggested that people who practiced meditation for many years have more folds in the outer layer of the brain. This process (called gyrification) may increase the brain’s ability to process information.
  • A 2013 review of three studies suggests that meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal aging.
  • Results from a 2012 NCCIH-funded study suggest that meditation can affect activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain involved in processing emotions), and that different types of meditation can affect the amygdala differently even when the person is not meditating.
  • Research about meditation’s ability to reduce pain has produced mixed results. However, in some studies scientists suggest that meditation activates certain areas of the brain in response to pain.

(US Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Healthline website outlines benefits of meditation practice on their website:

  • reduces stress
  • controls anxiety
  • promotes emotional health
  • enhances self-awareness
  • lengthens attention span
  • may reduce age-related memory loss
  • can generate kindness
  • may help fight addictions
  • improves sleep
  • helps control pain
  • can decrease blood pressure

The article also states that “People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance.” (Bold-emphasis mine.)

Mayo Clinic provides this list of benefits on their website:

Some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Sleep problems
  • Tension headaches

Types of Meditation

As I said before, there are many different types of meditation.

  • Loving-kindness meditation
  • Christian/prayer meditation
  • walking meditation
  • Body scan meditation
  • progressive relaxation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Breath awareness meditation
  • Kundalini yoga
  • Zen meditation
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • mantra meditation
  • Sufi meditation
  • Self-Enquiry or “I Am” Meditation
  • Vipassana Meditation
  • guided meditation

And there are others, but this list should give you an idea of how variable meditation practice can be. Explore the different types to determine which feels more comfortable to you. There are many apps and resources available in the various meditation types. Educating yourself with an open mind will help you to form a practice that can improve your overall health, or if you choose not to, will still help you to better understand others that choose to practice. The more you know, right?


Meditation Activity:

You all know I love poetry. So when I stumbled upon this terrific guided meditation that uses POETRY in the meditation, I just had to try it and share it with you. It was fantastic. Below you will see a copy of one of the poems used in the meditation and with the link to the meditation itself just below it. Enjoy!

Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

by Vanessa

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

Guided Poetry Meditation:

Guided Meditation: Mindfulness and Poetry Meditation #1

For further reading:

Medical News Today
Could Mindfulness and Meditation Really be a Good Thing to Try?

Thank you for being here on this wonderful journey we all have. If this is your first time joining us for the “The Fiddlehead Life” series, check out the tab for the series at the top of this blog for what you may have missed.

Christina

–-author of “organic,” a poetry collection that sits at the heart of this “Live Your Best Life” movement. You may find this bestselling collection on Amazon at ORGANIC–FIDDLEHEADS & FLOSS VOL. 1

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