Ready to Soar ~ Discovering the Poet Within

What is poetry? Forget everything you might have been taught about it, any rules around rhythms or rhymes. Forget the rigid structures and the conditioning that led us to believe only a select few chosen ones could dare call themselves ‘poets’.

Poetry, at its core, is about expressing truth. When written, and especially when read aloud, it is about meeting that edge of our (self-)knowledge, and the tender vulnerability of having stepped just beyond it. Poetry is ‘good’ not when executed as per the rules – it is so when it moves something within the author, and the people reading or hearing it. There truly is a poet in everyone, in everyone who dares to be brave and show their soul just a little bit more.

Embodied poetry is the phrase I have come up with to capture this essence. Over the years, in addition to spontaneously writing poems in my journal since I was a child, I got trained in ‘social poetry’. Social poetry, taught by John Stubley during the Ecosystem Leadership Program of the Presencing Institute, equipped me with a deeper understanding of the power of words, tools to access inner truth, and ways to weave in the collective dimension. 

Based on these teachings, learnings from other art-based processes and my personal experience, a body of work is emerging around embodied poetry. It was such an honour to teach two workshops in Mandali! We explored the power of metaphor, and followed it to support each participant in spontaneously, without blockages, write what might be their first poem ever, or their first in a while.

Rather than being focused on something as subjective as ‘quality’ of the outcome, we are interested in the process, in what it does with us, and in how personally affected we are by the vulnerability or the power of the words that come to us. In this way, we may gain insights, clarity, discover a new mode of expression, or re-activate our creative life energy.

Marije, resident yoga teacher of this Mandali experience, wrote the following about this powerful experience: “Last year was rough. I did not only lose my mom, but I also lost my inspiration to serve and my appetite for teaching. The last few months I have felt stuck and unmotivated. And then, something changed… I took an Embodied Poetry workshop with Nora and that glimmer turned into a flame, that then opened the floodgates of new energy and new motivation. I not only wrote several poems (that I never thought I would do), I also conceived several new projects that I feel very excited about.”

In addition to activating and unlocking creativity, building the muscle of writing and gaining new personal insights through the words that land on the page, we also explored co-creation. I passed around a sheet of paper, where every participant wrote the sentence of their writing that stands out to them or resonates most. They folded the paper over before handing it to the next person, and so we co-wrote a poem without our minds interfering. This, after some minor edits, is what came out:

Poetry, embodied poetry, moves our soul. It calls to us. It reminds us of our truth, of who we are. It’s a powerful way to express ourselves, deepen our (self-)knowledge, and connect. I can’t wait to see what the seeds planted during this special time in Mandali will sprout into!

About the author

Nora Wilhelm has dedicated her life to a more just, regenerative, and beautiful world where all beings can thrive. A change-maker since her teens, she gradually moved from active citizenship and strengthening the voices of young people to systems change, co-founding Collaboratio Helvetica in 2017. Over time, the work took a toll on her, and she was diagnosed with a burn-out in 2021. In 2023, based on what this experience taught her, she co-founded The Well • Change Atelier to make art-based processes and tools to cultivate connection, creativity, and well-being available to more people. Her work was honoured by awards such as Forbes 30 under 30, UNESCO and the Dalai Lama Fellowship.

Posted in BlogTagged contemplation, poetry, writing

The Art of Journaling

We are living in some unprecedented times. Many people are struggling and words like pressure, rush, mental health, suicide, social media, addiction, drugs – these are almost the new normal.  As a result, more and more people have trouble with finding themselves in a good place emotionally and mentally.

What is that feeling that something is not right?

It is easy to lose the connection with ourselves and our feelings, in a world where we are over-stimulated 24-7 by work, social media, expectations, etc. We are not aware of our thoughts and our behaviours, se we lose touch with our inner world. We live our lives the best we can, we go go go. Many people have trouble saying no and with standing up for themselves. In these hectic times we have so many options and choices, it’s hard to know where to go. We continue to run and we don’t stop.

So what can we do?

Press the “pause bottom”, as Prema from Mandali always says. We are looking for happiness and peace and balance but we don’t know how to get there. Because we have not learned how to deal with emotions and feelings and we are not self-aware, of our behaviors as well as our thoughts.

This is where journaling comes in. Taking time out to sit down and think and write down your thoughts is extremely healing, and also empowering. That moment to pause. Writing is literally letting go. Letting go of our thoughts is like an instant relief.  Like a tire that loses its pressure. We feel safe when we write, and a bonus is that we are in the present moment while doing it 🙂To be in your own mind in your own time is just an incredible feeling. It gives ourselves the attention that we so much need, we put ourselves first. It is an act of self-love, real Me-Time.

There are many ways of journaling

  • Intuitive writing (writing what-ever comes to mind), a story that needs to be told 
  • a life plan, wishes and dreams
  •  writing about your behavior and feelings,
  • writing about day-to-day life, your daily thoughts.
  • writing when you are sad or angry

All of these forms are good. They allow us to release what is burning inside of us, and by letting it go, we start to look at our thoughts and patterns in a different, more lighter and neutral way.  

While writing, we begin to see things more clearly and honestly, and “open for change”. We can change perspective on the way we see our own lives and the world – which has often been distorted. We start really being our own best friend, and take control of our lives. Like in an aeroplane, we need to take the oxygen mask first before we can help other people. Once we are there you will understand that your thoughts are not true, often on repeat,  we can change them into new and better ones. So we can start to live our lives authentically – YOUR dream life that you always dreamt of.

After a difficult time in my life, going through a depression, and finding my way slowly again in new and better circumstances, I was looking for a way to share what I learned to help others. I especially wanted to help young people living in these times, where it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and lose touch with themselves, by giving them tools which will help make their life easier through self reflection. That’s why I came up with a simple and fun 4 step method that I have combined with a journal, called MY JOURNAL. It guides people to reflect, write and find themselves so they can create their own manual and start doing what is right for them so they become balanced, whole and happy. Because we all want to feel peaceful and in the present moment, because that is where the magic happens. The reactions up till now have been really impressive. 

I wrote this book with the purpose to heal the world a bit. Since I believe, as all the teachers at Mandali do too, that if we like and love ourselves (self love) we will automatically be kind to others. So let’s all do that, in our own way, let’s spread some love.

”Let’s allow journaling to be our meditation. Nothing more, nothing less.” – Beth Kempton

About Maggie Maris

Maggie is a friend of Mandali and shares our vision being a point of light in the world, helping others through her work. She is the author of MY JOURNAL and MY WAY, beautiful journaling tools to help to self-reflect and grow in your journey of self discovery. Her books are published in Dutch and soon in English, for more information please go here: www.maggiesway.n IG: @maggies.way