Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Poetry in Motion: Lessons from Ecotherapy

by Heather Hill

I have just recently discovered a new Ecotherapy idea which I am calling "poetry in motion":  You select a poem that you love or even a quote or song- anything to focus your mind on something you enjoy or want to know intimately.  My favorite is Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.  Then you break the learning of the poem down so that each day when you walk, you memorize a line or two.  This is best done in nature with limited distractions from cars, people, etc. but if all you have is your own neighborhood, that will work as well.  This process, like using a mantra, will focus your mind, reduce the chance for rumination, and allows you to exercise your memory as well as your body.  

Wild Geese 

by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good.

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.


Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.


Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --

over and over announcing your place in the family of things


Additionally, here are two passages from Rilke's beloved Letters to a Young Poet that I regularly share with clients.


Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers that cannot be given For you would not be able to live them And the point is to live everything Live the questions now And perhaps without knowing it You will live along some day into the answers. Read More [Insert link to:


To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and so loving, for a long while ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, intensified and deepened loneness for him who loves. Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate — ?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things. Only in this sense, as the task of working at themselves (“to hearken and to hammer day and night”), might young people use the love that is given them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must save and gather for a long, long time still), is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.”

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