What’ s the first thing you do when you’re feeling down? Other than the alcohol of course. Or phoning a friend. We often put on a song or piece of music that expresses all that we’re feeling but can’t articulate. And often songs are poems put to music – they have rhythm, insight, rhyme, emotion, inspired thoughts, ambiguity, mysteries, reassurances, a wealth of unconditional understanding that helps you know that you’re not the only one. We often know our favourite songs by heart, we’ve played them so many times.
Poems can offer the same healing, reassurances, hopefulness, insight, and like songs, are a wonderful container for strong emotions which can help bring new perspectives and clarity into our lives. The magic of poetry healing is in that wonderful connection you feel when you see and hear words composed by another, which softens your heart and relaxes your mind. There’s an important shared connection: someone else has been there and come through the other side.
In a poetry healing setting, this is developed even further, the connections are forged between you and others in the group. The whole group holds the emotions you’re feeling in a safe space. Your individual response to the healing words is also taken deeper through writing your own response to the poem – a letter, dialogue, notes, a poem, a story, diary. Then through sharing written responses to the healing poem, each person is accepted, validated, appreciated, valued and respected, so each one of us comes to know and understand our healing journeys in life on a deeper level. The words are there to return to again and again, and the writing stimuli is always there to give new insights at whatever point in our lives we’re at.
Passing on that poem to someone in need, is a joy in itself, just like sharing your favourite book or film with someone you know would really appreciate it.
The reading of poetry has been scientifically proven to have health benefits, calming the mind and easing the breathing. The act of writing takes you deeper into the meditation of it and the sharing then brings you into a wider family of understanding. Poems, like songs and music, have an enormous capacity to bring healing into our everyday lives.
One woman told me her story of the tremendous healing she’d received through poetry, when she had first come across Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’, especially the opening line: ‘You do not have to be good.’ All her life she had felt imprisoned by the rules of authority, parents, teachers, society, and had lost any sense of self and who she was, what her own needs were and how to respond to them. The poem further liberated her with the follow healing lines: ‘You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves.’ This released her from the guilt she felt about just existing in her own right, and opened up possibilities for her, in the reassurance that it was absolutely fine for her to get to know and to experience what it is that she loves in life.
Another woman found deep solace in Rumi’s ‘The Guesthouse’ which offered her deep acceptance of all her feelings, and a way to find peace of mind, whilst facing a terminal diagnosis of cancer: ‘Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent / as a guide from beyond.’
A man who shared his healing journey told me what a positive difference David Whyte’s ‘House of Belonging’ had on him, in helping him to perceive his house in a new light, opening up to him the idea of reclaiming it as his home, in the wake of being newly widowed. He could then emotionally move back into his home, instead of rejecting it, and wanting to escape. ‘This is the temple / of my adult aloneness / and I belong / to that aloneness / as I belong to my life.’
Jeff Foster’s ‘Kissed by life’ offered much consolation and hope to a woman whose son had just died: ‘let the scenery of life / break our hearts into millions of tiny pieces’, which are then later fused ‘back together again’ in ‘the very same scenery’ as if ‘we’d been kissed by life’.
There are poems for every occasion, whether it’s grief, love, laughter, celebration of life, friendship, and they are made all the richer for sharing them in a safe, relaxed and creative atmosphere.
The Centre offers poetry healing in a range of ways. There are two hour sessions that can be booked for individuals and groups, and there are also whole day experiences which allow you to immerse yourself more deeply in to the process.
Please say if you'd like to book as a family, a group of friends or an individual. Poetry Healing can be instrumental in bringing about clarity of communication and acceptance of self and others.
Booking a Session
If you would like to book a session, simply select from the top of the page, the practitioner you would like to book with and use the contact form on their page to get in touch with them. If you are not sure who you would like to book with, you can just send a general enquiry to the Centre via our Contact Us page.