Copyright (C) 1997 by William Mistele. All rights reserved. 

                      Writing a Poem Using Focusing

The poetry I write is more a direct description of my experience in
meditating than it is anything else.  Some have asked me to explain what
it is I do. 
    One method I use in writing my poems derives from Eugene Gendlin's
method called "focusing."  (See Eugene T. Gendlin's book "Focusing"
published by Bantam Books, 1962).   There are six steps in Gendlin's
     1. Put everything off to the side so you can focus on one feeling or
question.  2. Get a direct feeling from your body, an impression you can
perceive  in a concrete manner, which accompanies your feeling or
question.  3. Express this feeling specifically in an image, a phrase,
even as a geometric configuration of where the sensations or feelings are
in your body.
    4. Go back and forth between steps 2 and 3, that is, check and
increase the accuracy of the image or phrase so that there is a close
correlation or "fit" between your body and your conscious representation
of where the sensations or feelings are in your body.
    5. Allow now your entire body and soul to open to what it is you  have
identified as "stuck" energy or  f eelings which  are not flowing freely
within yourself.  For example, ask, "What is behind  this or underneath
it?"  This allows what is stuck finally to be accepted and   embraced by
all that you are.  6.  Give yourself a chance to process what you have
experienced.  Let it become in some way a part of your life. 
     In so far as psychologists are occupied with the needs of the
personality, Gendlin, typically, has an individual ask, "What is keeping
me from being happy right now?"  There are a vast array of definitions for
what it is to be happy.  Certainly, it is up to each of us to find for
ourselves our own answers.  
    There is, however, a strong connection between our body and our
feelings.  When we feel full of energy, clear, and open to what is
happening within us, we are on the path of happiness.  The body and
feelings have an immense advantage over the mind when it comes to
discovering happiness.  Let us explore an example. 
     An individual might focus and notice a constriction or pain within
his or her heart.  Focusing further to increase the accuracy, the shape
and intensity of this feeling becomes more clear--it is then characterized
as a throbbing, even a burning sensation which carries within it a feeling
of loss. 
     The sensation and the feeling of loss become, then, a "handle" one
uses to open up the entire body and soul to experience this stuck energy.
Total, undivided attention is present along with the empathy which is
willing to enter into and feel all that is there.  And the whole body
stands ready to embrace and accept whatever is discovered.  
    Asking, "What is this?"  or "What is beneath this?" allows us to enter
into an inner psychic space in which we are purely attentive and
receptive.  New and original perceptions rather than old thoughts and
reactions can then be found. 
     Empathy, love, and concentration are all present at once.  The energy
the psyche has put forth to hold, contain, and to bury these feelings is
now no longer needed.  The rigid barriers within the body are free to
dissolve and the energy is free to move, to shape shift and be
transformed--to be integrated into the rest of our psyche rather than
being separate and alone. 
     In this moment, however, we do not identify with our personality or
familiar identity.  No, no.  If we want integration, to be more open and
clear, we need to identify consciously with the totality of who we are. 
To do this, we must be willing to enter the unknown--to embrace that space
at the center of our heart where love encompasses all. It is from this
place that the stuck and trapped energies and tensions within ourselves
dissolve and are then free to flow and move unobstructed. 
    Opening to our sensations and feelings, the loss is then discovered,
in this case, to be rejection: the withdrawal of love by others, the lack
of acceptance, the way others have attacked rather than tried to
understand who we are.  The inner tension around the heart is then
perceived as arising from an attempt to guard against others' hostility
and lack of acceptance. 
   In this "discovery" or insight, there is no longer a need to defend
oneself.  The acceptance felt toward oneself in this case is sufficient to
extend toward the others as well.  The body through opening and flowing
with the movement of energy has found another way of relating to the
    The energy, then, shifts because the barriers holding it in place are
no longer needed.  The greater resources belonging to the entire psyche
are drawn upon.   With this shift and change comes new insight.  And the
tense, burning sensation with its feeling of loss is now gone.  There is
in its place a feeling of delight, a sensation like water flowing down a
    Our task in the final step is to allow this insight to become a part
of our life.  Without receiving this insight, it is easy for our more
familiar but less dynamic routines, thoughts, and reactions to reassert
themselves.  In this case, receiving this insight becomes a matter of
holding the others in our hearts with the same love and acceptance we have
discovered we can offer to our self.
    The most significant difference between what I do and what Gendlin
does is that in step 5, in opening to the energy or feeling, I use and
flow into the energies of nature as the images in my poems testify.  I
also, as a spheric magician, draw freely from the vast array of spirits
Franz Bardon mentions in his book, "The Practice of Magical Evocation."
This helps amplify my ability to explore and animate my impressions  And
it enables tensions within me which are much more collective, universal,
or cosmic than personal to be released and transformed. 
    As a psychologist, Gendlin's prime directive is to help others to
adapt and to be successful in the social world as it already exists. His
emphasis is on the happiness and integration of the personality.  A bardic
magician like myself has a different objective--it is to discover
spiritual treasures and bear them back to our world, in other words, to
capture in poems the beauty of the universe.
    My intent is not to adapt to but to comprehend and then to transform
the world according to a vision.  Though I use Gendlin's method, I have
modified it so that it is now a wand in the hands of a magician.  I chart,
then, not just the integration of the personality, but the integration of
the collective, global, and cosmic psyche in my meditations.  The image or
phrase I use as a "handle" on the energy I am experiencing within my body
turns into part of the poem I write.  In the poem, I pass into a void.  I
move beyond the boundaries of the world in quest of the harmony and beauty
I seek.  The entire poem, then, is a record of this journey I have
followed on paths of soul and spirit. 
    To avoid excessive explanations, I will begin writing a poem and talk
about it as it unfolds.  I am listening to a song by Karen Matheson from
the soundtrack of the movie Rob Roy.  The song is Ailein Duinn.  This
song is in another language and though I do not have a translation, I
notice there is something in Karen's voice which I wish to explore--
     Karen sings from her heart and in her heart there is a love which
encompasses vast distances and places of isolation.   She accomplishes
something as she sings which I have not learned to do within myself--to
unite sorrow and loss and loneliness with beauty.  The heart has this
power--to hold all of our experiences in life within a place where
stillness and love are joined. 
    I want to enter this place, to join with this source, that this light
might shine within myself as well.  This will not be easy for me. One of
the qualities of love is that it seeks to flow through the very core of
another's being.  The oneness offered is immense.
    But this flow is not without a price.  In its quest for intimacy and
oneness, this love inevitably enters every sealed room where frightening
secrets have been hidden away, every chamber where horrors and terrors
have been bound and stowed--the flow of love breaks all barriers down.
   Love creates a magical circle. It weaves together all that is within
the life and experience of both individuals.  For this love (which I
perceive as I listen to Karen's voice) to flow within  myself, I must pass
through the darkness that exists within me.
      Listening to Karen's singing: I open myself completely --as a bardic
magician: I become the silence which carries the notes of her voice. I
become the darkness willing to allow the light and all the images within
her mind to shine forth. 
    I bear the tension her heart embraces.  I am the willingness that
feels what she feelings.  I am the stillness so complete her entire
being--without diminishing, without a trace of my desires and needs--is
allowed to appear here.  I am the mirror willing to reflect without
distortion her soul and her spirit within myself. 
     And yet, though the mirror is empty,   it also seeks to hear what her
voice has to say to me personally.  The tradition of the troubadour
asserts that union with God or Goddess can not be attained, can not be
experienced in full, until it is first seen and experienced through the
heart of another.  There is path of transformation her voice leads me
upon.  This path leads both through her and through myself. Upon this path
we are not separate. 
     This is a path of love and upon it there are moments when all that
exists is union, oneness, and bliss.  This is not a wish or a fabrication,
for love in its essence contains this mystery--only in love can we undergo
transformation without knowing where were are going or who it is we are
becoming.  Love offers us this union that we might find and enter the
sacred gate leading to the enlightenment of the world. 
    Listening to Karen's voice, my body is now gone.  The surrounding
world is no longer here. I would listen in this moment so completely that
my mind is like the sky, my feelings the sea, and my body as quiet and
patient as the mountain.  
    My listening becomes the mirror so clear that her love, heart, and
soul can appear within it not just as an image or representation seen at a
distance.  I allow the magic in her voice and song to create in me the
very source of life inspiring her.
      The feelings and energy within her song now begin to appear within
me.  They are able to move freely drawing upon all that I am and all that
I have ever experienced.  In this listening space, her heart is now free
to speak directly to my own.  This is communication from one heart to
another heart.  This is a dialogue between two souls involving the entire
    In her voice I find a love so pure, I can feel it now flowing around
my fingertips--a cool wind flows in the evening before the moon rises.
The air is liquid.  It brushes through my hair. Standing behind me, I feel
her hands on my shoulders.
    I am protected by her love, sheltered by her heart.  She offers me her
own heart and soul that I might know my own better--again, this is not my
wish or hope.  This power to join and offer support is precisely the
essence of her own soul which she is sharing in her song.  The wounds
within myself, the pain and anguish, they are strings upon a lute and she
reaches to touch them with hands of compassion and healing.
    Her song, and her heart from which it arises, is willing to walk with
me right now by my side through the darkest places of my lie--places I can
see, I can visit easily, but which I have not been able to share with
anyone else.  I feel her love as an actual energy moving through me.
    As I listen to her voice I sense the reason this healing power is
within her is that she is willing to become the Earth.  Within her eyes,
within her heart, she too would bear, endure, and nourish all so they may
come forth in their own time, in their own way, and be reborn,
transforming, attaining all that they were ever meant to be.  I feel that
grace, that acceptance, that love within her heart as her voice speaks to
    With Karen's presence and heart clearly here with me, as liquid energy
streaming through my body, I visit again those places in my life where I
was indeed lost and lonely--so lonely I felt I had died, or that awakening
within a dream, I turned and looked around myself and saw a million broken
hearts silent and unable to speak.  But Karen remains by my side as I
enter this dark place.
    Still, this is not easy to do.  I this moment, as I hold a cassette
player in my hand, my thumb hesitates to push the play button and again
listen to her song.  The pain is overwhelming.  It washes through my body
like an undertow striving to tear apart my identity and carry it off.
The pain is so total it feels that in entering it there is no way out.
The pain weighs me down.  There is a place of lostness within me so vast
it is like a dream from which part of myself has never awakened.  I
hesitate to enter lest even more be taken away from me than before. 
   But tracing the images I am actually seeing in this moment,  I write
these words to the poem, having spent many years walking alone through
deserts, forests, and mountainsides: 

Does the mountain stream cry
As its source--the clouds--
Drift off into other skies?
Do its falls weep in sorrow and loss?
Does it pause silently in its pools
Its depths dreaming of endless loneliness before flowing on?
If my answer is "No,"
Can I persuade my heart otherwise?
Your voice walks beside me
Through these mountains, deserts, and forests
Where, though breathing, seeing, and dreaming,
I feel I have died
Because love has left my life behind. 

Clearly, I can enter, as in a walking dream, these moments of immense
tension which I have experienced before.  I am there now.  I have invaded
the past.  I am who I once was.  But to be here is to experience a
numbness which can not feel, a sorrow which does not release.  
    But Karen's voice is here with me also. She says to me, "You can feel.
It does release.  I am able to experience here and now all that you are
going through.  You are within my heart and my love  flows through your
    I feel the mountain pools and the streams again.  I am one with them.
And I feel the clouds moving on just as love having propelled me forward
on my path of life then turned away from me and left me alone.  But she is
within the pools and the streams as well.  Karen's voice, like a
magician's,  evokes within me the love which exists within this very
moment within her heart. 
    And so in my body where I feel the tension, the numbness, the pain, I
feel her energy flowing also through me.  Her energy has become my own. I
could sit here for years by myself doing focusing and still this energy
would never release.  But the bard, in listening, has allowed the heart of
another to infuse his own heart with new life even amid this wilderness.
And so I write: 

But your voice reshapes my life
In your song I hear you say,
"This pool you see
It dreams of clouds and seas
But its still waters reflect more--
The stars dwelling in the vast expanse of space
Their songs of Joy take eons of time
Each others' hearts of find
And yet they are all joined as one
As your heart and mine
Within this moment
Within this poem
Flow as one stream of love.
The child understands not the words
Understands not the reasons for its suffering
But the mother is there to comfort
She holds him within her arms
In my waters cool and deep
Rest and sleep
Let go
Be released
And yet expand also--"

There are places within us which are so vast, so empty of human
companionship, that to enter them is to risk losing our understanding of
who we are.  But these places as well are part of an even richer and more
wonderful world--they are a part of the Soul of the Earth.  Here are found
all the treasures of spirit the human race has ever known and will ever
     Karen, with her heart of gold, leads me on paths through this
wilderness of the soul.  I am no longer within what is called the
collective unconscious.  I am not supported by the wisdom of any culture
on earth.  I have entered the domain of what is better called the global
or cosmic unconscious.
    Here water itself testifies to that aspect of Divinity which it
embodies--universal and comic love. Because the magnetic powers within
Karen's heart reflect and carry the Soul of the Earth itself, I am safe
traveling here.  The desolation I once faced but could not bear, she has
transformed through the willingness of her heart to flow through  my own
with her love.  She has given voice to the Life which infuses us all.
    There are  places of the spirit we may not enter without another by
our side.  There are transformations we can not undergo unless another is
there to guide us.  I assert that the feminine soul has the power within
it to bear and give birth to any destiny human or divine.  This is my
experience as a bard.  This is why I am so attentive to the treasures
found within the heart of women.  To the  treasures within the heart of
this women I yield: I flow and let go and, entering into the mysteries of
water itself and the heart of nature, I write: 

Sinking down into your heart, your love
I am now the underground stream
Gently weaving through the caverns beneath the ground
And I am curtains of rain sailing upon the wind
I am the sea and the iceberg drifting
The whale's song echoes through my body
As other whales listen a thousand miles distant
I am the mist embracing the forest with her arms
I am the grape on the vine
As it ripens
As it ferments into wine
Capturing the lightning with its song
Joining earth and sky
The taste of the grape
Sings of the treasure I have found within your heart:
In the coldest, darkest place of emptiness
Though invisible and unknown
A fiery light still shines
A heart still celebrates the Love
ŠBinding the universe with its might--
From your heart to mine
In this moment
This flame is passed,
And so I have come to see
The stream, the falls, the pool and its dreams
Fear not loss nor emptiness
Nor the loneliness where the soul dissolves
But flow as part of  a Sea
Whose Song is Infinite Love.

It is not caprice nor exaggeration when I write the words, "Infinite
Love."  Karen's heart reflects the Beauty of the universe even as the Soul
of the Earth reflects within itself the spirit of the sun, moon, and
stars.  I am now in the center of Karen's heart.  I am one with the Source
inspiring her.  I move as spirit and the spirit indwelling her fills me
with its love.
     This joining of spirits, this sharing from heart to heart, is not a
method unknown to our world or in any way inappropriate.  It is not just
troubadours and bards who imagine such things.  In any serious spiritual
anthropology, shaktipat, guru yoga, and the transference of power from
heart to heart, are the essence of the teachings made real.
    Part of Tibetan Buddhist, e.g., in its method of initiation, is to
enter and experience the heart of the Dalai Lama.  This is done in fact as
part of the visualizations which are used with a guru in many tantras.
     Just for a moment, if you feel free, come with me.  Visualize the
Dalai Lama standing in front of you.  See his smile.  Look into his eyes.
This is not so difficult.  You can imagine a friend you are close to.  If
you visualize him or her right now in front of you and listen to words he
or she might speak, you may be able to "feel" something of the other's
presence entering you, flowing through your body.  This is the same thing.
    For a moment, become a dot of white light and flow into the heart of
the Dalai Lama.  Let the entire universe for a moment be precisely what
you feel and sense within his heart.  Here is this moment is a sea of
compassion which is infinite.  His heart contains worlds upon worlds all
enfolded by the light of the enlightened mind which he shares freely with
    This field of energy of his heart is also like wind and water when
they are gentle and kind and nourishing.  It is an open expanse which is
inexhaustible.  It is a sea of time where the mind discovers itself to be
a mirror clear, open, and luminous, a mirror whose very nature is
    It is no wonder, then, that this same man repeats again and again, "As
long as suffering remains to sentient beings, I will remain to serve," or,
"My only religion is kindness."  These words epitomize the essence of a
sea of energy which his heart embraces.  These words are spoken by one who
would lay the ground work for establishing on earth a genuine cosmic
    Karen's heart also touches on the universal  and cosmic.  Her
magnetism is that of Venus: the willingness to combine and join what is
separate so that healing and beauty may be found, so that love may be
fulfilled.  Listening to her voice singing Aileen Duinn, becoming the
space where the light of her soul can shine, I have entered a sea whose
essence is Infinite Love.
    So in summary, when I listen to another, I listen with my  entire
being.  When I follow a feeling, like Orion in the sky, I am the eternal
hunter.  I move across all boundaries.  I overcome  all barriers. Like
others before me, I am a servant who is guided by the One Light which
holds the universe within its heart.
   But put more simply, I enter a waking dream.   In this dream, I taste,
feel, perceive, hear, and touch the energies which arise within the
stillness of my heart.  I allow them to appear, to use all of my life as
the strings of a lute which they are free to take and play any song upon
of their own choosing.  
    Willing to be the earth and the sky, the seas, the volcano and the
lightning,  I become the source which inspires the other's being so that I
too might become transformed, so that the paths of the spirit might be
opened and shared with others.
    Again, this is what bardic magicians do: we find treasures of soul and
spirit and share them with the world.  Our meditation is the open space of
the heart which we never  cease exploring.   Our poem or song is a record
of our journey, of what we have been permitted to bring back and share
with the world.
   But the poem is more than this.  As is my experience when I listen to
Karen singing, the poem/song is a magical gate.  The poem is a sigil drawn
not with lines but with metaphors which evoke a spiritual presence.  
    The poem is the blood of Divinity called forth by the bard's voice and
carried by the wings of spirit. It is the flame moving free and without
obstruction from one heart to another heart.  The poem is a joining of of
one in love creating that moment in which God and Goddess  reach for and
touch each other within our hearts.

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