Have you ever thought about poetry as healing medicine? The book, “Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem Making” by John Fox, opened my eyes to further define my own healing journey with poetry leading the way.
Poetry becomes medicinal because it can take you into your body, connecting you to the vast potential of your senses. It is the connection to our sensory experience that ignites us; cracks us open, to an aspect of ourselves that is often difficult to turn away from. In that opening, we are offered a journey towards a new unfolding.
You might experience poetry or poetic imagery as medicine when you feel it led you to uncover your own hidden meaning. In this way, it meets you squarely where you are and takes you where you need to go. What is so impactful about poetry as medicine is how it helps us gain healing insights, ushering in a deeper expansiveness.
Why does it matter?
We can live our lives, too often, in the literal, grounded in the narrow definitions we have made for ourselves. Poetry as medicine pulls you past your own limited language and can help you reach for deeper distinctions that unveil a richer sense of you; giving you the power to see, heal, grow, and be.
By stepping away from the literal, a healing poem can bring with it…
wonder and awe,
mixed with fear and doubt
and what remains
is a place of beauty
and transformative understanding
where you can begin again…
You do not need to be a poet to use poetry as healing medicine. You just need to let the poem live within you and take you into aspects of yourself you are not in touch with yet. As you read a poem and experience its symbolic imagery, notice what it reveals.
Let the stanza from the poem, “Wood Door” speak to the richer meaning within you as you experience poetry as a place to heal.
I feel the edge of my back against the wall
the cold wood door giving me the backbone I cannot find.
I am settling for less,
choices made with my teeth held tight
clinching the dreams and desires
held back, as if they did not belong,
as true words to be heard.
What resonated within you as you read this stanza?
Did you notice words, sensations, or feelings rising within you?
Is there a hidden meaning there for you?
For me, when I wrote this part of the poem, it revealed that I often took on beliefs that were not my own; thinking as though my voice should not be heard. This poem broke me open and led me to ask… How could that be true?
As I explored this question, it led me to transform. I could hear my inner voice rising, declaring that my dreams, my words, all deserved to be heard.
I realized that this was a place from which to act. I had to let the poem come to life, so it could come to my life. Poetry as medicine helps us see our own reality, and at the same time, widens us to what’s possible.
Poetry lives and breathes
in the subtleties of our inner life.
It’s an experience and a gift to unwrap.
Poetry is a thing of beauty
to be celebrated,
because it is essential
to the humanness within all of us.