I wrote this original post years ago, but the tool that I described is still very present in my work with clients who are dealing with negative emotions.

These poems are called sensory poems because you use your 5 senses to write them. It is a way to fully engage your imagination and practice mindfulness with your emotions, even if especially if they are negative and uncomfortable.

 

Find a comfortable place to sit and clear the counter space. Light a candle or make yourself a cup of fragrant tea. Find some paper and writing tool that you particularly enjoy using. Sometimes playing music in the background helps, but sometimes the quiet creates a refreshing space to think and express yourself. Now, let’s begin.

Bring your eyes to a spot or close them and try to scan your body, mind and soul for what it is you have been feeling in the last 24 hours. What is the strongest negative emotion that you can identify? Some examples are apathy, anger, regret, rage, sadness, loneliness, overwhelmed, anxiety, worry, angst. Pick one, write it at the top of your paper. This is your first poem’s title.

I’ll identify mine as frustration. Then outline the poem as follows:

(Your negative emotion) looks like…
(Your negative emotion) smells like…
(Your negative emotion) feels like…
(Your negative emotion) sounds like…
(Your negative emotion) tastes like…

Take your time as you seek to really utilize your imagination to feel in your body how that emotion effects you. I often encourage clients to picture themselves in an empty theater that illuminates with a visual, and then just sound, then a drop on their tongue, a shoe box with a physical texture inside, and a scent that wafts through the room. This way, each sensation is a separate experience. You want to use adjectives, get specific.

Re-read your poem aloud and notice the sensations in your body.

Now, we clear our pallet by taking a few deep breaths, noticing what our body is currently sensing. Taking a sip of tea, smelling the candle, placing your feet firmly on the ground. These are grounding techniques that allow us to recognize the safety of our current moment and encourage our body to relax.

The second half of the prompt is finding the opposite of the negative feeling you have been experiencing. This may take some thought. What is the exact opposite of the discomfort you have been living?

I’ll identify my word as acceptance.

(Your opposite word) looks like…
(Your opposite word) smells like…
(Your opposite word) feels like…
(Your opposite word) sounds like…
(Your opposite word) tastes like…

Again, taking time to really imagine these sensations and notice how your imagination effects your body and your thoughts. They are all connected.

Re-read your second poem outloud and enjoy the sensation of relief from the burden of the negative emotion. Our brains are so powerful and have such an effect on our physical sensation and body comfort. You can use this tool anytime you want to combat the stress that is being brought on by a negative emotion that you just can’t quite “let go”.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s Kitchen Table Poetry Therapy! Stay tuned for more prompts. Really do it. Pen to paper. Go!

Emily

Kitchen Table Poetry Therapy Week 2

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