At this point, it seems like worrying is an integral part of the human experience.
Every single time I successfully battle anxiety in one area of my life, another battle pops up before I can even catch my breath. Journaling really helps me. There is something about putting everything on paper that calms me down. Right next to that, poetry has also been an excellent source of calm for me in distressing times. Today I will be sharing with you, three poems that have lines that have been so good for calming me down that I have memorised and chant them sometimes. I believe that poetry can be so powerful in anchoring us. I hope these poems can provide some encouragement and comfort, whenever you need it.
‘Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand…
remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back and the sea will hold you’
‘First Lesson by Phillip Booth.
Fear is an inevitable part of the human experience. They say babies are born not to fear anything but the longer we spend alive, the more it creeps into our minds. As children we are scared of the dark, scared of dogs, scared of our lesson teachers. We turn into adults who become scared of mediocrity, scared of love, scared of ourselves. Just in so much fear.
In this poem, we are told to meet fear with surrender. We are told to let go. And that can be a difficult thing to do because fear makes us hold on extra tight to things. If you are scared of being alone, you use all your might holding on to a lover that you should let go of. ‘The sea will hold you’ means that you will float but to float, you surrender your body to the water and let it carry you. In the same way, breathe, relax and let go when you are confronted with fearful situations. See what a few moments of clarity and anchoring will do for you. I hope for you that when you are afraid, you will let go and receive strength and tranquillity, in abundance.
‘Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss, sometimes we do as we are meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen. may it happen for you.’
‘Sometimes’ by Sheenagh Pugh
This poem reminds me of the possibility of good. A lot of the human experience can be really crushing and disillusioning. Everything seems gleam with no rays of positivity shining through. For whatever reason, we find it si easy to convince ourselves that bad things are always coming. So many of us, experience our joy in crumbs because we are waiting for the next bad thing to happen. This poem speaks back to negative thoughts like that. This poem says that sometimes things go as planned, they go the way we want them to. It says to us that, do not give up, your own story may have a happy ending. But what I love most about the poem is the final line. That prayer, that plea, that supplication. May it happen for you. And my darling, I really do hope it happens for you. That lines fall in pleasant places. That stars continue to align in your favour. That the joy is permanent this time. May it happen for you.
‘I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water…
for a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free’
‘The Peace of Wild Things’ by Wendell Berry
In this poem, we are asked to look to nature, to the ‘peace’ of wild things who do not spend their lives worrying about grief, or pain. As human beings, so much of our precious time and energy is wasted with worrying. About everything and anything. I must tell you, worrying is such a fruitless exercise, it literally offers nothing to us. It just leaves us feeling worse and worse. In this poem, we are asked to mirror these animals and release ourselves from the inhibitions of our minds that form shackles around our souls. We have a right to be free and we should seek after that right. So as from today, every time you find yourself worrying about something, catch yourself and remind yourself to come into the peace of wild things. This is also reflected in a bible verse I love so much in Matthew, that tells us to look at the birds of the air, who do not worry about food yet stay fed and taken care of. We should know such is our fate, and even better.
What I love most about this poem is how instructional it is with the imagery it invokes. At the end, the line says “I come into the presence of still water’ and immediately I feel a sense of calm wash over me. I imagine being sat at the edge of a beautiful lake, the sun reflecting blissfully on the surface of the water. I embrace the feelings of tranquillity that wash over me. In that moment, I am free. From worries, from my anxiety, from even myself. I recite this poem to myself to anchor me back to a sense of freedom. When I want all the dark clouds to lift, I read it over and over until the skies are reflected upon a beautiful lake. This is how powerful our minds can be when we fixate them on such lush, eniching words. Give it a go and see how you feel.
I hope these poems resonate with you and you can leave me a response asking for a post about poems and any topic towards the next volume of this series. I hope to hear from you.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: these poems offered here are not in any way prescribed as treatment for anxiety disorders as the author is not medical personnel.