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by Catharine Hannay
Here's a selection of poems, quotes, and proverbs for mindfulness teachers, as well as K-12 teachers interested in Integrating Academics with Mindfulness and SEL.
Over the past few years, I've put together several lists of quotations, with questions that can be used for class discussion or reflective writing assignments.
quotations focusing on Mindfulness:
- Mindfulness and Happiness: quotations about appreciating the present moment, letting go of attachments, embracing moderation, and finding meaning.
- What is Mindfulness? quotations about mindfulness meditation, informal mindfulness practice, and nonjudgmental awareness.
quotations focusing on Compassion:
- The Power of Forgiveness: quotations about the meaning of forgiveness, forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves.
- Tales of Generosity: stories of giving and receiving from a variety of sources, including a Hasidic tale, a Sufi parable, and a couple of popular passages from the Gospels.
“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
“What you see in yourself is what you see in the world.”
“Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
“Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.”
"Think before acting; and whilst acting, still think.”
“Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it most.”
If you'd like your students to write poetry or other forms of creative expression:
- You could start with one of the Activities for Exploring the Five Senses, then have the students write about what they experienced;
- The Center for Nonviolent Communication has a Feelings Inventory and Needs Inventory with lists of adjectives by category. These could be quite useful as a resource for personal/reflective writing.
If you're looking for poems to share with your class:
- You may be interested in the Poetry and Other Readings We Use in MBSR Classes, from the Center for Mindfulness, UC San Diego
- Another wonderful source is PoetryFoundation.org, which has collections of poems by topic, including:
- One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver, a keen observer of the natural world.
- And here are a few poems that have led to thoughtful discussions in my classes:
- One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop ("The art of losing isn't hard to master.")
- What Is Success?, by Ralph Waldo Emerson ("To laugh often and much...")
- Hook, by James Arlington Wright, about an unexpected moment of kindness. (There's one potentially-offensive phrase in the first stanza.)
- Incident, by Countee Cullen, about an unexpected moment of unkindness. (Very offensive 'N-word' in the second stanza, but that's the point of the poem. As always, use your own best judgment about what's appropriate for your particular context.)
- You may also be interested in the Songs About Kindness and Compassion (playlist 2), which includes a song based on 'Incident,' as well as other perspectives on discrimination, understanding people from different backgrounds, and taking action to help others.
About the Author
Catharine Hannay is the founder of MindfulTeachers.org and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance.