Writing poetry is not only a fantastic way to let your hair down and embrace freedom of spirit, it can also benefit one’s health and well being. Our thoughts are objects that can be controlled through meditation. If we use the act of writing poetry as a form of meditation, it can induce a relaxed and contented mind.
The use of poetry as a therapeutic tool was used by ancient shamans and healers. Chanting poems was a method employed to help the welfare of the tribe or an individual.
In 1928, poet and pharmacist Eli Griefer began offering poems to people whilst filling their prescriptions and eventually started “poem-therapy” groups within the hospital environment. He was supported and encouraged by the psychiatrists Dr. Jack L. Leedy and Dr. Sam Spector. After Griefer’s death, Leedy and others continued to incorporate poetry into the therapeutic group process, eventually coming together to form the Association for Poetry Therapy (APT) in 1969.
The act of writing poetry can be deeply cathartic by purging emotions and relieving emotional tensions that might otherwise be difficult to express. It is an art form that encourages and permits the discharge of pent-up emotions which can result in a temporary and sometimes permanent resolution of psychological problems.
It dynamically relieves stress. As you write poetry, you can enter into the context of the poem and the rest of the world seems to disappear, as a dream sequence envelopes you and transports you deep within your consciousness. Your emotions, however painful, are lessened as you flow with your metaphors, down the poetic river into the cavernous depths of creativity.
As each poetic meditation takes place, emotional pain starts to become healed. Living inside the metaphor sharpens the cognitive aspect of the mind, so when you are not writing, your thoughts become more positive and healthy.
As you sink into the act of poetics by following imagery and metaphor, you become more aware of yourself and find joy in creativity. This in turn translates into your daily life as a greater sense of self awareness with a very positive perspective on your whole health and well being.
You are not your thoughts and poetry is proof of this. You can separate from them totally during the act of writing. You are set free as your thoughts are confined to the page.
Some great poets have unfortunately found that writing by itself was not enough to save them. Suicide rates are much higher amongst poets than they are amongst authors of different genres, as well as the general population at large. Great poets such as John Berryman, Hart Crane and Sylvia Plath all ended their lives by committing suicide. This may be because many suicidal poets suffer from depressive disorders.
It can be mooted that poetry holds an appeal for distraught poets, as it helps them to cope with their mood swings. Unfortunately, like many other treatments, it is not a panacea for all problems, it has its successes as well as its failures. For some, it is an answer and a solution in itself, but for others it fails to provide them with the complete emotional support that they so desperately require.