Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Shovan.

Lucretius just presents this marvelous and important idea that what we are made of will make something else, which to me is very important. There is no nothingness — with these little atoms that run around too little for us to see. But, put together, they make something. And that to me is a miracle. Where it came from, I don’t know. But it’s a miracle, and I think it’s enough to keep a person afloat.

Mary Oliver in an interview with Krista Tippet of On Being.

I was listening to On Being with Krista Tippet, an old podcast of an interview with Mary Oliver from 2015. The episode repeated the week of Mary Oliver’s death in January of this year. Listening to Mary Oliver makes me feel I am in the presence of a wise yogi.

The practice of writing poetry, I am learning, is an exercise in mindfulness. To be open to the universe of words and to put them down on a page is a gift. Then there is the renewing of the words as you revise, reorder, read aloud to a writing group, and go at it all again.

This poem came from all this listening and doing the work of the morning.


If we could make of everything
a sacred movement–

Digging in the deep mud
watching the earthworm squirm.

Painting on of pale eyeshadow,
touching my face with gentleness.

The cat is purring a prayer.

Wind chimes are ringing a hymn,

And here I am,
lifting my coffee mug to my lips

Even the cicadas are laughing.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019
Image by Ravi Kant

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Holy Week always brings up for me a mixture of feelings.  I feel a call to silent contemplation.  Years ago I offered a Good Friday meditation.  It originally came out of a prayer vigil from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  I had signed up for the 6 AM time slot and was moved by the rising of the sun as I sat alone in the quiet church.  We don’t have a vigil anymore, but the idea of sitting in quiet meditation early in the morning of Good Friday is still something I want to experience and share.

With four of us in the sanctuary, I read aloud Mary Oliver’s poem “I Happened to be Standing.”  Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine.  I love how simple and profound her poems are.  I searched for this one.  I remembered how it looked on the page, but I didn’t remember the title or which book it was published in.  I located five of her books around my home, none of them placed together.  Finally, A Thousand Mornings sang to me from the living room shelf, and there it was in all its humble glory.

I Happened to Be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
     along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
     of little importance, in full
self-attendance. A condition I can't really
     call being alive
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
     or does it matter?
(Read and listen to the complete poem here.)


As I sat, I recalled Psalm 22 from the Maundy Thursday stripping of the altar. I wanted to respond to this psalm with my own psalm. I wrote:

Deus, Deus meus

My God, my God, why have you forgiven me?
The toll of the cardinal song
echoes You are my child.

Long ago, I carried a child in my own womb
felt her heart beat with mine,
felt the soft body roll inside.

Is this how you love me, God?

I held the hand of his father
as he passed into your light.
I let go of his quiet strength.

Is this how you love me, God?

When I think on these things,
I can know kindness.
I can hear stillness in the noise.
I can feel love in the bird’s song.

When you are near me, God,
My soul lives for you.

–Margaret Simon (c) 2018

Happy, Happy Easter! May you find joy in the quiet and love in the sounds of the birds!

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Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.


Developing a mindset for presence is difficult in these busy fall days.  I am adjusting slowly to the shifting of gears three times a day as I travel from school to school.  I use the car ride to reflect on the last class and prepare for the next.  I’ve got the time down so that I’m not rushing.  I’ve noticed on the sign-in sheets at my schools that my time is the same every day even without my paying much attention to it.


EnneaThought® for the Day

Type Two EnneaThought® for November 11th

How can you fully experience your Presence here and now? Observe the many thoughts that pass through your awareness without becoming attached to any of them. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 47)


This week I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation with my morning group of kids.  They looked forward to this.  But Friday was Friday and their little busy minds just would not relax.  Eyes were opening, mouths were smiling, feet were fidgety.   So after the timer dinged, I asked my students to open their journals to free write about the word ripple.  I selected the word from the mindfulness card that said to imagine dropping a stone into the water and watch the ripples.  Adding this layer to the meditation practice brought my students to a vulnerable place.  I’m learning that when we open up our classrooms to the experience of mindfulness and safety, emotions can arise.  We have to be ready to treat them with gentleness and kindness.

Focus on nothing
everything becomes clearer
morning mindfulness



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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

At the SCBWI conference in New Orleans, I met Whitney Stewart.  She is a nonfiction writer.  I bought her book, Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.  Whitney has practiced meditation throughout her life, but only recently turned this love into a picture book and mindfulness teaching. 


Earlier this week I used her book as our read aloud.  I found meditation music online, turned out the lights, gathered pillows, and asked my students to settle down for meditation.  This was easier for some more than others.  One student opted to sit in his desk and put his head down.  Another opted to continue writing a slice. But a few sat cross-legged on pillows, closed their eyes, and listened to the meditation prompt from the book.


There was movement.  There were giggles.  Meditation was a new idea, an awkward idea.  This may take a while to get the hang of.


I read two of the meditation exercises.  The second one, Protection Circle, asked the students to imagine a glowing ball of white light between their eyebrows.  “Breathe out and send the light out of your forehead to surround your body.” Then we moved on to a red light in your throat and a blue light inside your heart.  Each ball of light was breathed out to encircle you with light.


Following the meditation, Kaiden said to me, “I imagined the three balls of color were fear, anger, and sadness.  But when they left my body, they looked like balls of fire.”

This morning, two of my students came into my room before school asking if they could meditate.  Again they sat on pillows on the floor with lights out.  I read another meditation from Whitney’s book.  They said they felt calmer and more prepared to start their day.  

Whitney’s meditation book is illustrated with child-like images of an elephant and a monkey. While reading aloud, the illustrations don’t matter.  What matters is the space to clear the mind.

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I wanted to try it.  My students are especially stressed because they just completed 10 days of practice testing, and the actual state testing starts in two weeks.  Meditation works for me.  I’m glad to have a resource for passing it on to my students.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

sky writing

During an exercise class, the instructor says, “Don’t forget to breathe,” as if you could actually forget. This seems like a silly instruction, but nine times out of ten, I realize at the moment she says it, I am holding my breath.

In yoga, I am learning breath is the most important thing. The teacher says, “Get in tune with the rhythm of your yoga breath.” I place my hands on my belly and feel it rise. Deep breathing relieves the tensions of my day.

Breath control is used to alleviate pain. I had a procedure done recently that required an IV (no worries, I am fine), and the nurse had a hard time finding a vein. That is so painful. I was using my Lamaze breath. The nurse noticed. It’s been almost 25 years since my youngest child was born, but I still remember how to breathe through pain.

In church, we sing a hymn, “Breathe on me, breath of God. Fill me with life anew. That I may love what Thou dost loved, and do what thou wouldst do.”

I believe in the power of breathing. The calm healing that oxygen brings in. Breath moves within me as the spirit moves. Taking in, I call God, “Abba.” Letting go, I say, “Amen.”

Focusing on a mantra, breathing the words that recall God to me, I can be fully present with whatever the stress may be.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Ah, the silence of summer. Days full of nothing. The older I get the more I appreciate silence. Sometimes silence is awkward, so we try to fill it up with sound. We turn on the TV or radio. We make a phone call. In the car, I rarely ride without the radio on. At home, I turn on the TV.

Over and over I am reminded that God comes in silence. When I take the time to turn off the devices and just listen, I hear joy in the songs of the birds. I hear the whisper of wind. I hear the quiet voice of God.

I took a walk to the park and did not take my phone. I walked alone. I was amazed at the noisiness of the birds, especially the mockingbird. I recorded one high in a tree. During the recording you can hear me say good morning to another walker. Listen and count the number of tunes the mockingbird sings.

When you are most at ease with another person, silence isn’t awkward. We stop trying to fill the open void with chatter. Notice this with your closest loved ones. With them, silence is golden. That’s how it is with God. Quiet moments given to prayer and meditation. Don’t chatter. Let your thoughts flit away like a moth. Ride the silent wave to an ultimate closeness with your creator.

Silence is a source of great strength

Silence is a source of great strength

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

This week started with a celebration. My daughter, Maggie, is turning 30 this month. She created her own party to celebrate on Monday, Lundi Gras, in New Orleans. Friends and family came and enjoyed meeting each other. The greatest gift for me was having all three of my daughters together and happy.

HBday Maggie

Mardi Gras has a reputation for being quite the wild party. I hung out with my sister and her family. (See Slice of Life post from Tuesday.) We found a spot on St. Charles where families gathered. Everyone around was considerate while cheering for a happy celebration. My daughter’s boyfriend saw a prized LED mask fall at his feet. He knew my nephew would love it, but when he picked it up, he saw this girl atop her father’s shoulders. He handed her the mask. She put it on and wore it for the rest of the night. Practice random acts of kindness.

light up mask

Nephew Jack sports a celebration mohawk and dangles beads in his father's face.  All part of the fun.

Nephew Jack sports a celebration mohawk and dangles beads in his father’s face. All part of the fun.

Lent has now begun. I had the traditional ash cross smudged on my head. I am preparing to celebrate a holy Lent, 40 days of reflection and meditation. A quiet celebration.

meditation candle

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Slice of Life Day 13.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 13. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I want to stay here
in deep meditation
focusing on one word,
letting light dance in my eyes,
letting go of stress.
Let me stay a little longer.

I want to stay here
in this warm shower
with scents of fresh herbs, a hint of rose
rubbing my itching scalp.
Steam wraps me in comfort.
Let me stay a little longer.

I want to stay here
reading in my teacher chair
while kids are spotted all around
with noses in their books.
I stop to read a favorite line.
Can I stay here a little longer?

I want to stay here
in shavasana, toes pointing to heaven,
holding my color focal point
melting away the day,
bowing in namaste,
Please let me stay.

photo by Pierce Martin, labeled for reuse on Flickr

photo by Pierce Martin, labeled for reuse on Flickr

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A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

A new button for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge!

My journal "visual note-taking" at the workshop.

My journal “visual note-taking” at the workshop.

You will know that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
–John 14:20

As I continue to try to practice Openness (my OLW) in 2014, I signed up to attend a Centering Prayer workshop on Saturday at my church, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany. I have heard of meditation and the benefits of such a practice, and Centering Prayer is much like this, with a Christian emphasis. The above image shows my journal page as I listened to the presenter, Alan Prater, from Contemplative Outreach.

Alan spoke about friendship and the levels of relationship from acquaintance to intimacy. He said that our relationship with God is like those stages of relationship with others. I realized that my relationship with God has been at the friendliness level. I am comfortable in reflective prayer. I’ve tried to move to the friend level where responsiveness happens- opening my heart, feelings, and emotions fully. At this level, prayer is real and spontaneous, not rote. I asked myself if I was ready for(or even capable of) contemplative prayer, a level of intimacy. Could I open myself up to a pure gift of God’s presence, rest with God, and be totally comfortable in the beloved’s presence?

I was reminded that God does not want a wave on the street from me. God wants more. So I am committing myself to try 30 days of Centering Prayer, sitting in total silence for 20 minutes. I’ve chosen my place, a chair in the loft upstairs away from the household traffic flow. I downloaded the app “Insight Timer.” I’ve chosen a sacred word, “Abba.” One of the best gifts of the app is a journal button that comes up after the bell rings. This way I write immediately after my meditation. The words flow.

Here is my first journal entry:

Angel lights
waves of purple

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican) Wikimedia Commons

Gian Lorenzo Bernini – Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) Wikimedia Commons

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empty tree, sky

Meditation on Empty

In that gentle space above his left eyebrow,
I focus on the emptiness,
how emptiness is not empty.

I fill my empty cup with ginger-mint tea.
Cut yellow roses for the empty vase.
Invite friends to fill the empty table.

My hand opens, then closes slightly
holding your pinky finger, tiny and delicate.
I’ll rock you until this pain subsides.

We sit together like lotus, open hands
to the Abba Father, breathe the warm
body scents that fill the empty room.
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

yellow roses
I brought yellow roses to the writing retreat because I looked up colors of roses and their meanings, and yellow roses are for friendship and new beginnings. Then among writing friends, I polished this poem and read it for our sharing time. I’m not sure if you need to know what the poem means. It will mean what you need at the moment. For me, it’s about friends and opening myself up to being filled every day.

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

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