Monday, November 9, 2015
The Healing Work of Poetry
Even though I am still in the time period of my final comprehensive exams for my online program of a PhD in psychology; I took time to present at the Texas Counseling Conference in Corpus Christi last week. My presentation on Aiming for Natural Highs went well even though it was a small group. That is what happens when you are in the final time slot on a sunny Friday in Corpus Christi. During my time there I enjoyed several other presentations. One that stood out to me was one on “How to Incorporate Poetry Into Your Counseling Practice” by Dr. Christine McNichols from UT Tyler.
One quote by Vicente Huidobro in the beginning of the presentation was “Let poetry be like a key opening a thousand doors”. She proceeded in the session to open many doors of how poetry can be used in the emotional, mental, and spiritual healing process. Poetry through the power of words can be used for many life concerns such as grief, depression and anxiety. Through understanding the emotions and life realities in poems one can grow in self-understanding, personal creativity and understanding the world as well as others around them.
She took time to do readings and reflections on a variety of poems during the session. Here is one selection:
The Yellow Tulip by George Swede (1940 – Canadian psychologist, poet and children’s writer)
through the hard crust
of the spring earth
and a foot
Just to be
by the sun
by the wind
But on this gentle
as it opens
to the sky
Nothing else matters.
I like how she told us to always read through a poem twice to allow it to sink in to our understanding and feelings. Also with poetry for healing do not dwell on the academics of original intent of the author. Instead think through what does it mean to you? Much of the discussion in the session showed the life lessons of what we can learn from the tulip. How the description of the growth of the tulip is so true to life. The changes in life are often not easy. Instead they come with struggle and difficulty. The hardships of life if we mindfully stick with it can end with a beautiful unexpected ending.
That phrase, “nothing else matters”, speaks to being mindfully appreciative of the small beauties in life. It is easy to complain and whine about the hardships and the growing pains of life. If we keep complaining we may miss out on the beauty of the flowers in our lives.
If you want to grow in life affirming ways and new personal awareness open the doors to new ideas through poetry. At your local library check out poetry anthologies or they may carry a poetry magazine. At used bookstores you can often find poetry books at a cost saving price. Also there are websites you can go to:
Poetry Foundation - www.poetryfoundation.org/
A poets organization - www.poets.org/
Poetry.com has a wide variety of poems -- www.poetry.com/
If you are interested more in the therapy side of poems look to -- poetrytherapy.org/
Add new open doors to your life by adding poetry in the mix of your life activities. Through the reading of poems you may even begin writing poems yourself.
Reflection: What did The Yellow Tulip poem mean to you? Go online and find another poem that interests you. Read through it a couple of times and jot down some thoughts of insights you learned from the poem.