Monday, March 16, 2015

Meditation Monday: Spring Renewal

By Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC

In an effort to take the “manic” out of “Monday,” this weekly post explores techniques, issues, latest research, and other thoughts on meditation. Nancy facilitates a weekly meditation group at The Awakening Center. For more information, contact her at 773.929.6262, extension 17 or

It finally happened—spring arrived in the Midwest. Most of the snow has melted and flowers are beginning to pop up. It is so exciting to see the first crocuses bloom. But as spring progresses and bigger flowers bloom, the smaller blossoms might get overlooked.

That is the subject of William Cullen Bryant’s poem “The Yellow Violet.” 
When beechen buds begin to swell,
   And woods the blue-bird’s warble know,
The yellow violet’s modest bell
   Peeps from the last year’s leaves below.

Ere russet fields their green resume,
   Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare,
To meet thee, when thy faint perfume
   Alone is in the virgin air.

Of all her train, the hands of Spring
   First plant thee in the watery mould,
And I have seen thee blossoming
   Beside the snow-bank’s edges cold.

Thy parent sun, who bade thee view
   Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip,
Has bathed thee in his own bright hue,
   And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.

Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat,
   And earthward bent thy gentle eye,
Unapt the passing view to meet
   When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.

Oft, in the sunless April day,
   Thy early smile has stayed my walk;
But midst the gorgeous blooms of May,
   I passed thee on thy humble stalk.

So they, who climb to wealth, forget
   The friends in darker fortunes tried.
I copied them—but I regret
   That I should ape the ways of pride.

And when again the genial hour
   Awakes the painted tribes of light,
I’ll not o’erlook the modest flower
   That made the woods of April bright.
Poetry is that lovely art form that allows language to reach the parts of the brain unencumbered by logic. The experience of reading or listening to a poem is meditative in and of itself, especially when we’re able to let go of our natural tendency to want to interpret or analyze the poem.

In poetry, we can get bogged down in asking “But what does it mean?” While there is joy in discovering themes and layers of meaning, the experience of allowing the images to simply wash over us has a great deal of value.
Attending to the metaphors and language can help ground us in the present. We can orient ourselves to the sounds of the words and the colors and textures of the images. One simple phrase or stanza can take us on an unexpected meditative journey. has numerous recordings of poems—many by the poets themselves. Or, pick a poem you like, record yourself reading it, and allow yourself to be transported. Don’t worry if you don’t understand most of the words or if your logic brain can’t figure out what’s going on. Just take in the sounds and rhythms of the words and let them carry you away.

Nancy Hall, MA, NCC, LPC is a staff therapist and the intake coordinator at The Awakening Center. In addition to seeing clients for individual therapy, she leads the weekly meditation group and co-leads the Somatic-Experience-Informed Trauma Healing Group. Check and subscribe out her blog “All Shapes and Sizes,” which appears on Chicago Tribune’s media partner

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