A quiet mind is all we need. All else happens rightly, once the mind is still.

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Blog: The Psylent Pen

Words are most meaningful when they emerge from silence and when they are received by a quiet mind.

~ Kenneth Cohen ~

Out beyond the ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field.
I'll meet you there. 

When the soul
lies down in that grass
the world 
is too full
to talk about.

~ Rumi

Leafy Wind Songs

When the mind is quiet
we might notice that trees have unique voices.

Those with soft, thin leaves whisper
in a tossing wind,
while those with thick, sturdy, or crisp leaves can make themselves heard
with the gentlest of zephyrs.

You might feel trees' speech though leaf language is wordless,
and when occasionally the musings seem directed toward one's self - 
how lovely that is.

That which carries and understands my communications
also carries and understands leafy wind-songs
so, we know one another even without comprehending.

I once heard a large stand of old growth trees
share their ancient wisdom in the rush of an oncoming storm,
the hearing of it is ever with me.

Wonder of Wonders

What we each know through our physical senses, and the thoughts we choose to entertain, is limiting. Yet, wonder of wonders, we can - in the quiet between thoughts - know the formless, spacious stillness out of which all forms and experience percolate.

Tossing the Garbage

I can remember, when becoming objectively aware of my mind's content, at being appalled by the endless stream of useless, repetitive thoughts running through my head. The stream was comprised of inane commercial jingles, unsatisfying conversations, worries, regrets, slights (real and imagined), song snippets, daydreams, moral indignation, news headlines, rejection wounds, what ifs, traumatizing events, opinions, preferences, frustrations, wishes, irritations, financial fears, plus the emotional debris the thoughts naturally stirred up.

It struck me how utterly unproductive the thoughts were, other than their ability to create internal drama. I called them my garbage thoughts.

Sometimes I'd break into the thought stream by reading history, or an astonishing piece of literature, or by listening to some Bach, Beethoven, or the Beatles. Sometimes I would purposely contemplate a knotty existential issue or engage in conversation about ideas, but those activities only temporarily crowded out the inane playback loop. What effectively disrupted the loop - and helped me toss its garbage - was simply the impersonal observation, or awareness of it.

Those Moments

when you look up, at say,
a pot of red and white striped petunias
bright in the afternoon sun
and see a being there,

or when the perfect circle
of a Robin's nest
delicately lined with soft straw
briefly arrests your circle of breath,

or when an earnest bee
buzzes about the rose blooms
putting pollen in sticky pockets
as bees have for millennia,

or when you are aware
that you are aware of pilfering bugs,
potted beings, and engineered nests,
ah....those moments.

Green Tonic

First, let your thoughts drop
like brown pine needles
to the ground.

Then, let the leaves, grass, and evergreens
teach you the frequency of their color.

Let it into bone, each organ,
long and short muscle, glands, nails,
loin, and ligaments,

Until each cell knows it.

Spring Visitors

Blossoms of the
creeping phlox, columbine, weigela, and peony 
have come with their kiss of pinks
and are slowly fading

once again
under-staying their welcome.


The Wonderful Silence

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth


November Golfer

A lone golfer swings,
his wool cap and zipped jacket congruent
with the bare oaks and elms.

Walking by this golf course throughout the year,
I often sense the Earth loves it when we play,
there's a deep joyousness
or a tickled pinkness
as if there could be no better use of her surface,
as if it is meant to be a playground.

As if all the carts
careening in crazy patterns
down each fairway
make her day,
never mind the scores.

Surprise Pleasure

Two summers ago I helped my mom with her garden, lifting the heavy potting soil bag, fetching trowels, gloves, and weed bags, digging was okay, I didn't mind helping. Loved being outside, of course.

Last summer, my mom's back and hip being worse, I did a lot more. The usual going for this and that plus half the watering, and trimming. She still spent more hours out there than myself, but I enjoyed watering late in the afternoons, picking off expired blossoms, getting some dirt under my nails.

This summer, because her balance is poor, the garden is essentially under my care, and I have found myself melting into it. When I'm out there alone, following my slowly burgeoning gardening instincts, trimming a bush here, weeding there, fertilizing, watering, pruning....thoughts cease, time drops away,...I am completely calm, content, and present.

I finally get it, why so many people love gardening, because now I do...guess some pleasures just grow on you.   

Close Encounters

for the past two weeks

as I walk by the tree-lined marshy area
where a frog choir often practices
where grasses, crown vetch, yarrow, and 
other wildflowers flourish

a redwing blackbird swoops down
and circles above me several times
three to four feet above my upturned face

chip....chip....chip it says

then as I move on it finds a tree limb
or flies to the top of a pole across the road

its territory safe once again

Peeling Paint

Sometimes, when the mind is quiet, a sense of utter perfection arises...

the way the cat's fur curves with its body,
the empty breakfast bowl laced with crumbs,
peeling paint on the porch's outer floorboards,
diving swallows,
young golfers chopping their way down the fairway -
hitting their balls into a fierce breeze
that seems a bit too cool for the eve of June...

It's as if the underlying geometry of the universe always maintains its integrity even as the porch paint peels, and in stillness we are privy to that enduring geometry, even the intelligence behind it.

Just Beyond Stillness

I've been developing a deeper appreciation of contentment,

that barely blissful amalgam of awareness, appreciation, and acceptance gently simmering just beyond stillness

where perfection is known but has nothing to do with circumstance, where peace intersects with the pleasure of being,

where softness back-lights kind eyes, and draws the half-smile.

Green Buzz

After letting thoughts fall away,
the resplendent green of the leaves and grasses 
exude love, felt in every cell of the body.   

Not the basic self-love of survival,
or of the tribal fire.

Not the burn of erotic passions, or desire,
and not the love - wonderful  as it might be -
for people, ideas, and things held dear.

There is, in fact, nothing special about it,
all things being equal.

So It Seems

Sometimes it seems that love is an in breath, a drawing in, an acceptance, a holding of all that is, made possible by forgiveness. 

Sometimes it seems that gratitude is an out breath from the creator touching all that is created.

I don't know whether this is true, but sometimes it seems so.

Much As A Gift

When the mind is quiet thoughts may come to you, much as a gift:

This mostly sunny May day
The landscape is halfway to its fullness

Like a young woman with chest bumps
Or a young man with the beginnings of a beard

Burgeoning, but still fresh

Briefly innocent of summer's heat and
July's duskier shades of green

Practical Psylence

Sometimes when out walking, I let my thoughts fall to the Earth and rest there. This gives my overheated neurons and stress hormones a break while I enjoy an intimate connection with everything around me. Emotions settle, perception clears, as my perspective temporarily dissipates in a sense of oneness. When returned to the business of everyday living, I am refreshed—more relaxed and in touch with both head and heart. 

Psylent Reverie

Psylence, or quieting the mind, does not necessarily mean meditative moments of no thought - though those moments are quite blissful.

Psylence can be listening intently to what someone is saying, instead of thinking about how to respond. It could mean choosing to listen without responding at all.

Psylence occurs when our mind is given over to a life-affirming activity (reading, organizing a closet, a science project) and we lose track of time, feel refreshed, energized, sometimes joyful.

Psylence is in those moments we stop worrying about a problem long enough to ask our intuition, God, higher self, the universe, or another human being for assistance.

Psylence is profound when we engage in play.

Psylence prevails when knowledge hits a dead end and we learn to enjoy, or at least appreciate, the mystery. 

Psylence soothes us when we mentally unzip our persona and temporarily step outside the stories that constitute this lifetime. In this stillness is the solace of being.

Psylence is that space in which wisdom and creativity can arise to inform our actions.

A Hawk's Cry

I weave in and out of the trees or
circle about them
creating a snowshoe pattern
much like the loop-de-looping path of a fly

sometimes laughing for no reason
sometimes stopping to exchange being-ness with a tree
sometimes enjoying the shooshing of my shoes
a hawk's cry, the cold air on my face.

I recall the straight lines
that started when we first lined up in school
and progressed down hallways
toward the next grade
toward some kind of eventual work
and then to the next promotion
or insight or relationship or accolade

not that destination and accomplishment are bad
but really…. so many straight lines.

Later, contemplating my meandering path
among the trees and over open spaces
I think it is some of my best work.

Cold and Clear

Today: below-zero cold, about 2 feet of snow cover, clear blue sky. 

Days like this remind me of awareness, intuition, and revelation - because of the space between bare tree branches, and the more visible horizon - because the sun's rays travel un-refracted through the dry, crisp air - and the stark white expanse of snow reflects the full spectrum of sunlight.

A quiet mind is likewise spacious, and intuition is received unbent by memory or mental chatter. Revelation is possible; a still soul can catch and reflect the full spectrum of intelligence, or knowing, that occasionally graces our being. 


I was driving on a curvy two-lane road through a wooded area, and came up behind a white pickup. The pickup was traveling about ten mph below the speed limit — I had been going a few mph above it.

I could feel impatience bubbling up inside me. "Let it go…just be in the moment…drive with the flow," I tell myself half-heartedly. Another poky-paced mile went by. "You've got to be kidding me," I mumbled.

Then, the pickup slowed down…slowed down some more…came to a stop. A nervous young buck skittered up the shallow roadside embankment just to the truck's right, ran across the road, and quickly disappeared into the pines.


We drove on, me in psylence. After another poky half mile, the truck turned off the road.  


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