Today’s Delicious Poem about Mindfulness

Experiencing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

What do a bunch of dogs sniffing each others’ butts and the poem Mindful by Mary Oliver have in common? Oliver’s poem is all about paying attention to and being moved by the small, perhaps, quiet occurrences of every day life. And, dogs? Well, they appear to me as the grand masters of mindfulness, and taking in the ordinary as absolutely extraordinary.

Take the photograph of these hounds relishing in the common and important experience of sniffing each others’ butts. Add onto that the photographer’s (that would be me) moment of delight in watching these animals in their moment of canine ritual.

And, right now, several days after I shot this picture, still I am able to, because I am giving myself permission, to lose myself in the beauty of the color of the fur, chuckle at the difference in their sizes (tiny mutt, middle sized shepherd, and huge Great Dane), and feel gratitude for both the simplicity and the power of this ordinary moment.

Mary Oliver writes…

I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Dogs and Mary Oliver, whether they are aware of it are not, know something about the healing potential of mindfulness, a practice of somatic or body-oriented psychotherapy. For it is a person’s innate ability to to be in control of the volume of their own nervous system by learning to be mindful of their surroundings and its impact on themselves in the present.

Mindfulness is a useful tool in easing anxiety, alleviating depression, and unwinding trauma. It is also a practice that has the potential to fill your days with small but sparkling opportunities to feel the extraordinary in the ordinary.



Passion. Peace. Purpose.

2 Responses to “Today’s Delicious Poem about Mindfulness”

  1. Suzanne

    Nicole: I love this blog. I love the photo of the dogs. I love the poem by Mary Oliver and her words, “something that more or less kills me with delight” Imagine being killed by delight. It’s the contrast that knocks me out.
    This blog about mindfulness and the poem you have chosen to help the reader “instruct” him/herself in joy, not of the exceptional, but of the ordinary…well, it just kills me with delight, as did my cat Mimi who lay right in front of the computer this morning so that I had to move her tail so I could type. When I read the poem to my husband Tom, he told me about looking for fields of undulating grass, as we drive out to Eastern L.I., the grass that is grown for use in football fields, and the pleasure it gives him to see the fields of endless bright green grass. He was reminded of that when I asked him what he made of “the prayers that are made out of grass.” He also told me about sitting in the car on our street watching the autumn leaves cascading down from the trees, their browns and yellows lit by the sun. Nice, hmmm?

    • Nicole


      The picture you paint with words of your cat Mimi, and Tom’s experience of simply taking in the colors of the autumn leaves just “kills me with delight.”

      Thank you for your beautiful writing.



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