Tag: Poetry

Hard Questions

Hard Questions

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
-Jalal al-Din Rumi

In recent weeks, news events and personal matters have been bumping up against my spiritual aspirations and inviting me to live them more fully. When I’ve noticed myself getting reactive or judgmental, I’ve been practicing the “sacred pause” to look more deeply and keep my beliefs and emotions in check. I believe it’s good practice in this age of social media, artificial intelligence, outrage culture, and deep divides to do so.

As the saying goes: The mind is a wonderful servant and a terrible master. Bringing awareness to when the mind has been seduced by thought or, in Eckhart Tolle’s words, “infected by a thought virus” is the first step in freeing ourselves from it. Some red flags are when we find ourselves overly identified with a certain view or person and/or emphasizing the otherness of others. 

Living from the aspirations to see clearly and to not throw anyone out of my heart has generated a lot of questions around the overarching themes of:

  • Is what I’m believing true?
  • Can I know for certain that it’s true?
  • How might it look from other perspectives?
  • How am I being called to widen my circle of compassion?

One inquiry led to another. The questions felt important, so I gathered them, below. (The spaces between lines are invitations to take a deep breath in and a long breath out.)

May the impact of these words match the heartfelt intentions with which they were written.

Hard Questions

Can you hold in your heart anguish for the young murder victims
And at the same time appreciate the abundance of beauty in the world?

Can you care deeply for those in mourning
And not throw out of your heart the defense lawyers
And even the men who pulled the triggers?

Can you have compassion for yourself
If you’re not able to open your heart so wide
Or don’t even want to?

Can you trust your heart if you do?

Can you have faith that boundless empathy
Need not impede firm, ethical action?

Do you dismiss possible positive qualities of those you dislike
And possible negative qualities of those you adore?

Can you be receptive to information that doesn’t align with your opinion
Of someone you either idealize or demonize?

If not, are you aware of your automatic shut-off response,
And are you okay with it?

Can you feel the sensations of cognitive dissonance—
The mind trying frantically to make sense of the world
With stories of victims and villains, Us and Them?

Do you want to be right or to embrace greater truth?

Can you realize when you are relating to an idea of a person
Instead of the actual person?

Can you allow someone to dislike you
Without disliking them in return or needing to change their mind?

Can you see how lashing out at someone else
Allows you to discharge the anger and powerlessness you carry within?

Do you have the courage to face and transform
Your inner material instead of projectile-vomiting it onto others?

Can you resist taking the bait
And instead of attacking someone who has a different perspective
Consider what kind of suffering or deep caring compels their opposition?

Can you become curious about how they came to hold their beliefs
And allow the possibility of learning from collective wisdom?

Do you think you know better
Or that there is so much more to understand?

Can you attune to your body’s guidance system
And discern what is true for you
Without needing validation from others?

Can you have compassion for yourself without coddling yourself
To remain in your comfort zone?

Can you acknowledge that the same event viewed through different lenses
Might appear wildly disparate due to different histories and conditioning?

Are you aware of the contrast that can exist
Between someone’s good intentions
And the impact their words and actions have on others?

Are you quick to react with outrage
Instead of seeking truth?

Do you realize there are sophisticated algorithms
Attempting to lure you into thinking and believing certain things?

Can you shift out of thought-habits and into the present moment
And breathe yourself free?


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

A New Mindful Poem

A New Mindful Poem

Hello Discouragement

Today I feel discouraged
Or you could say:
Discouragement is present.
But what’s different now
Is that I realize it’s just a feeling,
An energy moving through me.

It’s a feeling – it’s not me
And I am not it.
It’s simply a visitor who
Has been here before
And will come and go again.
No need to identify with it
Or to believe the thoughts
That fuel it.

I simply can greet it
Without feeding it
Or letting it get too comfortable.
Hello, Discouragement.
I see you. You, too, are welcome
In the vast ocean of this heart.
But please tell me, if you will
How you found your way in
This time.

Through the usual passage:
A not-so-great night’s sleep,
And Anxiety opened the door.

So tonight I will prioritize sleep
And remember that perhaps tomorrow
Or another day when I feel more rested
There will be the chance meeting,
The inspiring or hopeful conversation,
An insight that propels me out of bed
In the direction of yes!
But probably not today.

Today it is enough just to
Turn down the volume
Of the inner storytelling
And realize this mood will pass.


© 2023 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

A New Poem: The Power to Return Home

A New Poem: The Power to Return Home

Last night, I recalled a phone call I received from my granddaughter a few evenings ago. She called to tell me she enjoys meditating outdoors. I asked her how she does it, and she said she “sits on the ground and listens to all the sounds of the world”.

Which made my heart so happy that my eyes leaked. That phone call gave me hope.

Then I started thinking of The Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy had the power to return home all along. How many times did she click her heels together to get back home? Three times – the same number of breaths I take when my mindfulness bell rings throughout the day. And then the poem started flowing.

The Power to Return Home

The world offers endless distractions,
Even right here in the palm of your hand.
When life feels chaotic and uncertain,
You must reclaim your attention
As if your life depends on it
Because it does. 

To kindle hope, it is imperative 
To know the way back home to your center
So you may be resourced and restored 
By your own goodness and the kind voices
Trying to reach you through the clamor 
And forgetfulness of your busy life.

You don’t have to make time 
Or wait for particular conditions.
You just have to remember
That you have the power
In any and every moment
To befriend your breath. 

Ride it inward. Breathe out 
All of the preoccupations
And thoughts that cover presence.
Feel your feet on the ground.
See the clouds in the sky.
Listen to the sounds of the world.

It doesn’t matter what others do.
Don’t exchange your sovereignty 
For collective madness. In this fear
Pandemic, boost your immunity
By taking refuge as often as possible
In a few conscious breaths.


© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Poem: Being with Nature

Poem: Being with Nature

I woke up this morning to a fairly ambitious agenda and after settling into the day, got to work.

Eventually, I looked up from the computer screen and noticed the movement and the vivid blues of the river landscape outside the windows. The flowing river is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. Windows and mirrors throughout the house offer glimpses of the river as I move between rooms during the day. My desk in the corner of the sunroom provides a front-row view.

I never know what will come flowing down the river from one moment to the next. Sometimes it’s a poem, and all of a sudden writing it down takes precedence over everything else.

Being With Nature

This morning, sky and river are so blue:
Clouds and waves flowing as if
Carried by conveyor belts.
The sun shines in the sky,
Sprinkles down handfuls of sparkles
To dance on the water
With contagious laughter.

Right now, it makes no sense
To be indoors staring at a screen.
It is time for a break.

Look out a window. Give attention,
Receive something in return
Without trying. Let the mind rest.
Allow the heart and inner senses
To take over for a little while.

Follow the impulse to go outside
And caress the earth, one footstep
At a time, free from any destination
Other than true presence and relationship.

Become aware of the messengers—
Hawk, robin, loon—whoever appears.
Listen to the invitation.
How are you being asked to show up?
And can you say yes?

Just as we are restored and inspired
By the embrace of the natural world,
So, too, does Nature delight in the kiss
Of human eyes, ears, feet, tender touch.

The interplay of sunlight or water
On bare skin, wind in hair,
Footsteps on the earth,
Is reciprocal.

Have you sensed the merriment
Of wind playing with your hair
And how the notes change across
Moments and conditions and differ
From the songs of wind chimes
And willow trees?

Have you experienced the rhythm
Of flowers swaying in the breeze
And how the very same rhythm
Moves through you, beneath the surface?

Go outside. It is time to celebrate,
To whisper or dance or sing:
I am here, Love.


© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

True Freedom

True Freedom

More evenings than not, I have lengthy video calls with my granddaughter, who will turn six later this month. The other night, she told me she wishes everyone could “just be good to each other.” My daughter told me that was her “Santa wish”, and she also expressed it again last night at bedtime.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Sometimes I tell her there are adults who maybe should go back to kindergarten and learn how to get along with others and manage their feelings better. She thinks that’s funny…but also true.

Her wish reminded me of some words I penned in the middle of the night recently, before falling back to sleep. I wrote them and then put them aside. Hearing my granddaughter’s wish prompted me to revisit and share them.

True Freedom

Whoever you are, you are
First and foremost to me
A soul being expressed
As a human being
Who loves and hurts
And hopes and grieves
Just like me.

I, too, have held some beliefs
So tightly that a position 
Became my identity 
And lifestyle choices
Became a checklist
By which I judged
And set myself apart
From others.

From that, I learned 
It doesn’t feel good to be so rigid
In my beliefs, to push away
So many “unenlightened” others.
It causes suffering.

I, too, was for a time
On more than one occasion 
Seduced by charisma and appearance.
I, too, clung to an idealized image
Of someone because it helped me
To feel better about myself.

I have both looked down on 
And elevated others
To boost my self-esteem:
Pushed them away to affirm
I was unlike them
Or pulled them close and sought
Their approval and affection 
To affirm my worthiness.

But eventually I realized
It felt better to set myself free
From all that nonsense
Than to perceive someone
As either a minor god or a monster
And sometimes both.

There have been times
When I held onto illusion 
For far too long,
And therefore I cannot condemn
Anyone else for doing so.
My experience, though humbling,
Has grown my compassion.

May I not be content to make
Anyone into a concept such as
Narcissist, corrupt politician,
Or simply other
And fail to see them
As a multifaceted being,
Just like me.

May I not hold any label
As a destination
But rather as evidence
That there is more
To learn and understand.

And at the same time, may I 
Implement healthy boundaries:
See their light and take no shit.
May I feed the Good Wolf 
In myself and others.

Hurt people hurt people.
And I, too, have hurt people.

I have betrayed myself
By using someone else
As a self-worthiness project
And know how bad it feels 
To make self-betrayal into a habit
And a prison

To which we ourselves hold the key.

What great relief it has been
To stop projecting
My stuff onto others
And to set myself free.

It wasn’t easy, but it was
Worth it every time
To step out of the story,
Let the spell wear off
And relate to actual people
Rather than ideas or ideals

Even when someone
Really hurt me.

Choosing to see more clearly 
Even when it makes our ideas wrong
Or somehow less right
Doesn’t make us weak,
Is not failure.
To stop regarding
Our beliefs as Truth
Sets us free.

True freedom is unmasking 
In a much deeper way:
Being seen and valued
Exactly as we are
And accepting ourselves
As such.

True freedom is refusing
To allow our heart
To be held hostage by ego
And not taking our differences
So damn seriously
That we depend on
A bad or unenlightened Other
To validate by contrast
Our own goodness.


© 2022 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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