More poetry as therapy- Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

3092578816_c06da0d13f_b

Image: Joe Ism (see below)

In therapy, many counsellors work with clients who perhaps feel ‘stuck’ in a pattern of recurring behaviours that prevent them from fulfilling dreams, pursuing healthy relationships, or coping with challenges and developing resilience. Reading inspirational quotes on social media highlights how many famous sayings there are on the subject of living a mindful life, of noticing and recognising the world around you and working to free yourself from a past that can hold you back, or a future you are fearful of.

However, there is one poem that seems to sum up this process in a way that perhaps only poetry can, in its ability to distil feelings to the minimum number of words necessary to express them. We have written quite a few ‘poetry for mindfulness pieces on ‘let’s talk’ – do take a look as you may find another that suits your mindfulness practice perfectly – but this popular piece, by Portia Nelson is one that requires little explanation.

Portia_Nelson

Portia nelson

Nelson was a popular singer, songwriter, actress, and author; a cancer survivor who  wrote a very popular  book called There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery, which she later turned into a musical that played off Broadway. From it comes this poem, Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, which has been adopted by many as a as a self-help text. Its clear message is one of learning to take notice, recognise when you are repeating harmful behaviour and learn to move forward on to new paths of discovery…

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

We would love to know of any poetry that you find particularly inspirational, or especially helpful when you are practising mindfulness. Get in touch!

Image: Joe Ism on Flickr  Open Manhole Cover

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s