Poetry and Meditation

Poetry is a wonderful accompaniment to meditation, especially when the poet speaks of a deep spiritual, human truth through skillful use of words. Naomi Shihab Nye is such a poet, and I first found her through her popular poem, Kindness. Here, I share a poem I read at a meditation group recently. I was guest teaching for Heart of Light Meditation in Berkeley, California. At the end of a silent sit, I read aloud these words.

Naomi Shihab Nye

The Music Box

I don’t know who gave me this instrument,

what happened to the box that once housed

this now-bare motor … I turn the knob,

again, again, till the thing is tightly wound,

then watch the intricate wheels spin against one another

clicking out tiny metallic notes.

It is a familiar song but I couldn’t name it.

It repeats over and over, a miniature anthem

vibrating in my hand.

I feel there is something I should remember,

at least who gave it to me, but this memory has fallen away

like so many others. Sometimes I feel the mind’s

thin shavings scattering the minute they fall,

like the notes of this music-box disappearing into Monday,

even the ones that play together, the highest note,

even the pause.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye, Words Under The Words

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“We cannot say that there is no past or no future, only that past, present, and future occur in the timeless Now.” – Dorothy Hunt

“The point is to learn from whatever is experienced, whether it’s liked or disliked, beautiful or ugly. Everything will teach us if we let it.” – Ajahn Amaro, Finding the Missing Peace

“When hearts are open and awake, we bring warmth and blessings to our community and the world.” – Jack Kornfield

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

“The sacred is the reality of you. It’s the reality of everything.” – Adyashanti

“This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings so love, love, love.” – Hafiz

“Healing is being present with what is, exactly as it is.”

– Rain Elizabeth Stickney

“If you find an intelligent companion,
A fellow traveler,
A sage of good conduct,
You should travel together,
Delighted and mindful.”
– The Dhammapada, translated by Gil Fronsdal

“The symbols of the self arise in the depths of the body.”

– C.G. Jung

“Eye contact, gentle touch, warmth in our voices, and caring words are balm for your child’s being.” – Patty Wipfler

“The body tells a story. It is, in fact, a living autobiography.”

– Elaine Mayland

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

– Aristotle

“If we could untangle the mysteries of life and unravel the energies which run through the world; if we could evaluate correctly the significance of passing events; if we could measure the struggles, dilemmas, and aspirations of mankind, we could find that nothing is born out of time. Everything comes at its appointed moment.” – Joseph R. Sizoo

“Meditation is not a technique to master; it is the highest form of prayer, a naked act of love and effortless surrender into the silent abyss beyond all knowing.” – Adyashanti

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” – Howard Thurman

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