I began to practice Buddhist meditation and mindfulness as a conscious path to healing in early 2016. I’d thought about trying meditation for years, then got serious after experiencing several losses—a divorce, my father’s steep decline from dementia and ultimate death, the passing of my dog. It was the right time to try and find that stillpoint between thought and action, a place in my mind and heart where I could begin to find peace beyond suffering. In short, I came to meditation out of desperation, not as any sort of religion, which it isn’t, but as a mindful practice that spills over into my daily life as compassion, openness, connection, release.
I’d seen in my reading that Ah and Om can be used as mantras, Ah inviting the Divine, Om giving thanks to the Divine, which I associate in the poem as peace and joy. I used both the rowboat image and the mantras in the poem to invite the reader into the experience of meditation. After that, it becomes almost a how-to poem, instructions on how to meditate, how to let go of the tension in your body and mind—and be still and quiet, which over time changes the neural pathways in the brain toward a more calm and peaceful existence.
How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? The poem was born quickly, without too many drafts.
Impermanence is a tenet of Buddhism and one of the greatest lessons of our existence—all that we love will pass, will die, will change, even ourselves. We believe and cling to the idea that everything will stay the same, or at least we’ll clasp relationships and beliefs for dear life, no matter what. Then the Universe steps in, as it always does. But this realization of impermanence, of realizing things and people aren’t ours to keep, is actually freedom from suffering, an untethering, a release into peace and acceptance of the way things really are, not how we might want them to be.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? The Art of Meditation in Tennessee" from my new collection, Candescent (Iris Press, 2019).
Linda’s Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Candescent-Linda-Parsons/dp/1604542578
“Looking For Sunsets (In the Early Morning)”
by Cindy Hochman