writing to awaken in paperback!

December 22, 2014 Comments Off on writing to awaken in paperback!

The paper version of Writing to Awaken:creative writing as spiritual self-inquiry is now available on Amazon. You will find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Awaken-creative-spiritual-self-inquiry/dp/1503038262


writing to awaken

December 21, 2014 Comments Off on writing to awaken

I am pleased to announce that our new book, Writing to Awaken: Tanka Prose as Spiritual Self-Inquiry is finished.  The ebook form is already available.  The paper version will be available in a few days.   I wrote Writing to Awaken to share and demonstrate our use of tanka prose as a mindfulness practice.  Inspired by Basho’s Journey to the Deep North, in Writing to Awaken we explore our inner landscape.  You will find some wonderful pieces by our own Esra Sarioglu and Nelima Gaokar as well as work by Valerie Rosenfeld, Allison Miller, Monika Furch, Jennifer Werner, Ellen Pratt and myself.  Please enjoy.  If you purchase a copy, we will be grateful if you take the time to write a review for us.



esra sarioglu

December 21, 2014 Comments Off on esra sarioglu

willow tree
under heavy rains
elderly woman
tells me
it’s the shortest day

spiritual self-inquiry

December 8, 2014 Comments Off on spiritual self-inquiry

My new blog which will share my reflections on mindful living can be found here:



valerie rosenfeld

December 1, 2014 Comments Off on valerie rosenfeld

trying to find
something in myself
I can affirm
beyond my factious mind
~the oneness of perception

allison miller

November 25, 2014 Comments Off on allison miller


We drive to the marketplace, from our quiet country retreat house in southern Vermont.  I have no desire to leave, or buy anything, but when I see the fine stores, and the people selling homemade Vermont Pies, I become excited.  

I don’t even like eating sugar and gluten.  But I am fortunate, I know I am excited by the idea of a homemade Vermont Pie, by what it means to me, much more than the reality of eating one.  This knowledge saves me from having to eat it, and then feeling tired and foggy — the opposite of the clear energy I feel now.

wielding the sword
of self-knowledge
illusory temptations
slain by seeing what they are

It’s so nice to be here with my friends.  We are poets, on a writing retreat, and have come to town “looking for poetry,” not clothes, though I joke that a good sale is poetry!  The night before we talk about the power of mindfulness.  How being mindful gives our lives — our moments — the depth, richness, and even sweetness that we so often complain is missing.  We wonder aloud — is it easier to be mindful in the country or the city?  Some think it is easier in the country.  That the city’s distractions and temptations dissipate our intent.  The question hangs in the air, is it true?  

As I step into the marketplace, I remember this conversation.  I remind myself that what I truly want is not in these stores.  I do so in response to the “wanting excitement” that has arisen within me as I see them.  The word equanimity forms silently on my lips, encouraging me to be so.  This reminder helps me reject anything that is not in accordance with this intent, but also, to relax and enjoy it all.  Throughout the day, I don’t fall into any indecisiveness about what I want and don’t want to buy.  I notice this is the best time to go shopping.  When I am not looking for answers in the wrong places, but rather seeking poetry.  When what I’m buying is a condiment to the nourishment already found within.  Anchored by my deepest desire as I try on the finely made warm, comfortable robe, and beautifully fitting winter coat, it is not hard to forgo buying them.

leslie ihde

November 6, 2014 Comments Off on leslie ihde

Primary Colors

I always look for the primary colors that inform the color of any thing. The cherry floor of my office is red with tones of gold and soft brown. I review the indigo, white, black and wine in my oriental rugs as these colors dance tight arrangements of joy and prayer. The multiplicity of the colors in the rugs warm then shatter the room. In conversation, too, I look for colors. The person speaking has a color. Many, really. But I am looking for the hidden color, the one the person himself doesn’t know about. Found under sadness, or anger, or circular repetitions of thought, the person’s hidden color is teased from the blur of muddy experience. This color pops like the red in my floor from grain lines and brown. Familiar, like a friend, I see primary colors revealed in their eyes; no, past their eyes, past their talk.

a flicker of gold
on the side of the mountain~
brief reversal
dark sky, light earth
dancing spirit

Color is a yoga pose. Steady breath and gaze centered by the command deep within. Deeper than the person, deeper than the day, deeper than the life that lives like a wave moving toward shore. The crash is joyous and dreadful, the color of water elusive. My eyes are steady. Perception draws the line from ocean to shore.

no movement
color no color
the ballet of water
slaps hard land

My uncle was the nice one. Favored by my grandmother for his sweetness, he lies in bed now, the final days of his life. I contemplate the gift that I could send him. Primary colors. The lucidity of spirit-blue, the flame of insight-saffron gold. Maybe he would want green life, turbulent and frightening, or the red heart of hunger. I will give him the color of water. Water when it is still and vast, love when it is depthless. Primary Emptiness. The peace that astonishes.

land on this shore
frightened one
I hold you
for minutes and years
in a flash of wonder

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