Urban Mindfulness--The Book!


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    Keep Quiet

    Submitted by Jennifer Egert, Ph.D. (before her retreat!)

    I’ve been deep in reading to prepare for a 9-day intensive practicum in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society. Finishing Jon Kabat’s Zinn’s “Full Catastrophe Living,” I was struck by the poem that ended the book by Pablo Neruda, beautifully articulating the call to silence:

    Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

    Now we will count to twelve

    and we will all keep still.

    For once on the face of the earth,

    let’s not speak in any language;

    let’s stop for one second,

    and not move our arms so much.

    It would be an exotic moment

    without rush, without engines;

    we would all be together

    in a sudden strangeness.

    Fishermen in the cold sea

    would not harm whales

    and the man gathering salt

    would look at his hurt hands.

    Those who prepare green wars,

    wars with gas, wars with fire,

    victories with no survivors,

    would put on clean clothes

    and walk about with their brothers

    in the shade, doing nothing.

    What I want should not be confused

    with total inactivity.

    Life is what it is about;

    I want no truck with death.

    If we were not so single-minded

    about keeping our lives moving,

    and for once could do nothing,

    perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness

    of never understanding ourselves

    and of threatening ourselves with death.

    Perhaps the earth can teach us

    as when everything seems dead

    and later proves to be alive.

    Now I’ll count up to twelve

    and you keep quiet and I will go.

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