How does the poem "Mindful" by Mary Oliver define an aspect of mindfulness? what is the one thing the poem says mindfulness is or does? How does this compare and contrast with your previous understanding of mindfulness? 

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"Mindful" by Mary Oliver:

Every day I see or hear something 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?

Defined in psychological terms as "the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment," mindfulness, which is often part of meditation, awakens the light of consciousness of being and imagination in the ordinary, or as Mary Oliver expresses it, "like a needle/in the haystack of light."

Much like Walt Whitman, Oliver takes an existential delight in nature in this poem. Further, she exalts the capacity of the imagination to discover and be "mindful" of the energy of even the commonplace ("Nor am I talking about the exceptional, fearful, dreadful....") as it elicits delight and imparts "teachings." From the imagination, then, that finds the "untrimmable light" in what others perceive as the mundane, the "mindful" person can create
"prayers out of grass."

This "mindfulness" of most people's experience differs from the perspective of Mary Oliver as it usually connotes caution and a certain hesitancy rather than delight and open consciousness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
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