Richard looks at observations from neuroscience and links them to how we can explore poetic forms of self-expression to come into deep psychophysical balance and open our consciousness to spaciousness.

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Transcript

You know, what’s really been very interesting to me lately is to read of something of what neuroscience is beginning to tell us about how our brains work. And it’s interesting. It was the old idea that the left brain did one thing. The right brain did another thing– masculine, and feminine, and so forth. But we realize now is that both sides of our brains are trying to create wholeness or representing wholeness to us. The right experiences wholeness just as it is, all at once. The left side creates concepts, and words, and representations, and it puts them together. And it tries to develop wholeness that way.

In fact, by putting together words into beliefs, we don’t necessarily create wholeness at all, but we create systems that often divide us. And what fascinates me is the notion of poetry, of a way to change energy by the use of words, and feeling, and association. For me, I used to be able to bring myself into states of stillness, oneness often through running, or athleticism, and riding my bike. But over the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of pain. And until recently, back surgery’s really freed me from it.

And I needed to practice. I needed a way to change my energy without being able to run, or jog, or dance, or climb, or hike– the things that would join me to nature. And so I began to explore just writing poetry. I want to share one of the poems that is inspired by my visit here, in England, where my friends have a wonderful farm and garden. And I can go out and pick berries in the morning. So here’s this short inspiration from yesterday.

The miracles of berries growing. I’m squatting to free them from their branches– singly or in bunches– red, purple, pale yellow, blue, and near black. Distinct tastes but all offer that moment of resistance before bursting forth in their mouth watering glory. Not in a box, no plastic lid, no packaging. Straight into the bowl. Surely worth the pricks, and punctures, and torn skin to reach the plump ones through their defenses. And the frantic bird that found its way into the enclosure, to gorge but not know how to escape– I leave the door open, and he finds his way to freedom, taking a part of me with him into the sky.

So one of the things that happens with poetry is that boundaries become blurred. Tastes, images, sounds, and ideas have a way of dancing with each other. And the reason I say this to you is because what’s happening in our world is that we’re building reality. We’re building structures that we think are whole, but we’re building them from representations. We’re building them with words. Words link together into sentences. Sentences link together into ideas and beliefs. And those ideas and beliefs can have nothing whatsoever to do with nature, and wholeness, and the simple balance and rightness of things.

And when you take the time just to let your feeling and your associative processes in your thinking and imagery and sensation join together in a flow of words. You create a balance between a wholeness made of representation and a wholeness that you just simply know. Like I leave the door open and he finds his way to freedom, taking a part of me with him into the sky.

The bird doesn’t leave me. The bird and I travel together. I go into the sky. There’s a sense of everything connected. In those simple moments where words can do that for me change my energy, just as much as meditation, just as much as contemplation, just as much as dancing, just as much as hiking in the mountains.

I really wonder if we will start to understand that what we do with words, what we see happening on the political scene today– this assembling of rationalizations that have nothing to do with sun, or flowers, or plants, or smells, or breezes. These rationalizations that allow us to explore our world– we’re missing the poetry of life. And I invite you explore becoming your own poet.

When I do my retreats during the quiet days, I say to people don’t write in your journal. Don’t use this notion of “I” or “me” and then talk about yourself. Just let words allow you to flow with an energy. And see if you can start to take yourself back to states of wholeness, even though you’re playing with fragments, and representations, and words, and ideas.

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