Healing Power of Poetry
By Jennifer Kiley
The Secret Keeper
To Explore the Healing Power of Poetry
Poems are infused with wisdom and inner meaning that brings an aliveness to your mind and body. Poet Emily Dickinson says, “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head has been taken off, I know that is poetry!” Like the rhythm of a drum,, the rhythm of a poem changes your heartbeat, the phrasing changes your breathing, and the sounds resonate within your bones and the tissue that holds your body together. Current scientific research shows your brainwaves, breathing and pulse literally change when you read aloud a poem. Opening your mind beyond ordinary thinking causes the physical elements of the poem literally to create the biochemical circumstances for healing and insight. I know that when I write I sometimes feel like I am on another plain of consciousness. It is physically exhilarating. Reading the poem afterward, and seeing what I have produced can be satisfying but I am a tweaker and know that when I am writing the first draft it is letting my thoughts and feelings be free through my muse to capture the full essence of the idea of the poem. The tweaking comes as the compulsive perfectionist in me comes out of slumber and takes over to draw out the accuracy of the poem. It means eliminating words. Switching up phrases. Depending on whether I am writing Haiku or abstract poetry or rap poetry or whatever style, I need to be sure that I obey certain rules but always stay true to the meaning whether covert or cryptic, or blatantly honest and direct. Eventually, I arrive at an acceptable completion of a poem that is ready to be presented fait de complait.
The total satisfaction comes in the complete process of finding the inspiration and putting that into action. Writing the poem. Reading to one’s self first. Then possibly sharing what you have created. Receiving feedback. Lastly, adding to collection and being brave enough to read out loud to self and then to others. Reading other poets writing out loud would probably cause less angst. But if your poem is met with a positive acceptance that is more than satisfying. It is a magical experience, no matter the subject matter, especially if it is from someone you highly respect and from those who appreciate your creation. Reading a poem of your own is the scariest and boldest thing you can do. Even if you know from others you trust to be honest that it is good. So I can see how your body and breath and heartbeat and the tissue of your body would be totally affected by this experience. And reading a poem of someone else that you loved would also bring you a total body, mind, emotional and spiritual experience that would move you and I could see how this could cause healing.
The Steps to Follow To Cause the Healing Process of Poetry Are as Follows:
1. Fall in love with a poem or poems. Write your own poems and/or find an anthology with a collection of different poets. Go online, search out genres for a specific subject or poets. Maybe you heard a poem that touched you at a wedding or a funeral. Google a line from it. Search for it. There are multiple sites on line where you will find an extensive variety of poetry and poets.
2. Read your poem or poems aloud. It is of the utmost importance to read the poetry out loud, It makes no difference whether or not anyone is listening. A poem is made of more than the words on a page: it is breath, sound, rhythm. Most poems offer their mystical magic only when heard through the sound of a voice speaking them out loud and hopefully an understanding will come with each reading.
3. Find the poems you love most that you have written and put them in a collection in the order that you wrote them or if they are from other poets put them in the order that they came into your life. I, also, find some song lyrics to be as poetic as any lines in a poem. I save those myself, also. I make a running page in my Word program that I can refer to whenever I need to read any of the poems that move me. I would suggest you keep your own poems separate from the ones written by other poets that you love. It is a matter of separating out what you have created and that which comes from others poetry you love because sometimes you might want to read just one or the other.
4. Write down favorite lines on cards and use them as an inspiration. Read whenever you need to find a centeredness inside of you. Make a modified Tarot Deck. When you’re facing a difficult question in your life, use them. They may help to settle your mind and bring a calmness on so that you are able to think more clearly.
5. Have a poetry sharing online or through Skype with a friend or friends. Invite everyone to choose their favorite poems. Once they’ve found their selections of other’s poetry or ones they’ve written themselves, then it’s time to read them aloud.
Poetry opens you up to passion, peace, honesty and a centeredness in yourself. Writing a poem gives you a means of expressing thoughts and feelings that you would ordinarily have buried inside of you. Repression should be rejected for openness. The idea of reading the poems out loud is the most creative way of utilizing the poem’s creation rather than just letting it sit upon a page totally soundless. Give it birth beyond the writing and let it have a sound that can be heard with all the senses.
© Jennifer Kiley 2012
Inspired by an article
Written by Kim Rosen
in Spirituality & Health
Issue: 2012 July/August
The Medicine of Healing