Commusings: There Are No Answers Here by Elena Brower

May 06, 2023

Dear Commune Community,

What defines a melody? Yes, it is the relationship between notes, how one succeeds the other. But sound, like life, is defined by the absence of it. It is the pregnant silence between the notes that gives birth to its valence and salience. The notes, like brushstrokes, are plucked off the blank canvas of the future. We are so trained and accustomed to labeling that which appears in the foreground that we lose sight of the context, the play of light and shadow, the nuance, the quietness from which all emerges.

Poetry is like music. It’s wily and can feel inscrutable, in a certain manner, perverse. Per as in “by means of” and verse as in “words arranged with rhythm.”

Words in poetry are like notes in a symphony. It’s best not to try to understand them, but, instead, to feel them. No semiotics, just the real thing. Like a mantra that we repeat misplaces its literal meaning. Over time, we inhabit the pure vibration of it. We let go of the you and you and you and you. We turn off the spotlight and bathe in the floodlight, surrendering into something greater than ourselves.

I love reading Elena’s poetry because I can feel the heart-mind state in which it was crafted. It transports me there as if I am visiting her.

She has a deep understanding of the wisdom that comes in the spaces, the stillness, the softness. I hope it brings you the same reprieve that it grants me.

Here at [email protected] and floating on IG @jeffkrasno.

In love, include me,

• • •

There Are No Answers Here by Elena Brower

Excerpted from Softening Time: Collected Poems

Outside my bedroom window, watching the neighbors negotiate their relationships while listening to my parents clumsily manage theirs, poetry becomes my most magnificent, healing secret. 

From the moment I learn to read, I devour everything: cereal boxes, books, poetry, magazines, novels. The written word provides me with ways to make sense of my experience, to let go of the unbearable pain that seems to linger in my limbs. 

Our foundational challenge as humans in these times is to connect slowly, savor restful intervals, and find ways back to the words that give our daily activities deep meaning. What we need more than anything is profound attention to the instructive silences that dance between the words, to the glints of happiness that catch us off guard, to the depths of sadness that keep us connecting and listening. 

The ancient human wish to make sense of things and understand the supreme mysteries is alive here in these words, collected and edited from poems and prose written since I was
thirteen years old. 

May these pieces inspire your own Softening Time.


i’m six, seated on the sink cabinet,
door closed.
No glasses on.
My little left crossed eye struggles
to stay centered;
i’m opening myself to an inexhaustible ask:
who are you?


          Are you?

Speaking to the mirror
contact with something bigger;
the question works on me silently.

          There are no answers here
          but knowing arrives
          i’ll let myself be held by this
          high tide of quiet
          for the next little while

small moment

Morning finds me on my favorite chair,
cushion slightly damp from last night’s downpour,
sun tickling the tops of the junipers and piñons.

Day opens up to welcome me.
In light of the unceasing flow of change,
this feels like some kind of preparation.
Sitting is really just noticing,
helps me have mercy on myself.
How utterly human of me to
grasp and perseverate,
mind going this way and that.
How normal of me to forget
that I’m my own oldest friend.
Noticing helps tenderize things.
Sitting consistently transforms what we notice.
The practice of observing and quieting the mind
helps us see that passing feelings and thoughts
don’t need to disturb us
And we don’t need to keep chasing after them.
Noticing thoughts come, then go.
Tranquil heart.

One moment. 

delicate mists

I am free to choose the environment of my mind

          to stay open when
          some part of me wants to close

          to release the energy
          that isn’t my own

          those delicate mists
          of pain and trembling


When trees change color
I become a falling leaf
please can you catch me

let go

It starts on my studio floor when you take too much of something;
I forget what.
So I lay you down in front of my little altar there
and tell you,

          Rest here. You are protected here.

Hours, years pass. I think I leave to teach a class,
come back and "nd you still there.

          I smoke several cigarettes.

You emerge hours later,
thankful, closer to me now.

And in the end,
all I did was show you how
          to let go.
          And then let go again.

Filed under: how our friendship commences

keep letting go

keep letting go

even your awakening
even your realization

softening time

Sky full of clouds, pensive piano notes in my ears, about fifteen
minutes from home with all the groceries. You call me with gravity
in your voice, which is rare. I pull over instantly.

Yes, cancer. Yes, surgery, yes, chemo, yes, radiation. Yes. My best

Yes, healing. We’re holding one another from two thousand miles
away, hugging over FaceTime, struggling to find the words. When
I finally find mine, I tell you I’ll shave my head when you do.
Together we’ve lived in the same house, studied, played, traveled,
had our hearts broken, gotten married, had babies. You’re clearly
ready to take on the true healing, though, and that’s what this
conversation reveals.

The softening.

Strangely, your softening becomes my own; I can still see how I
allow agitation to seep into my day, hurling me quietly into anxious
reactivity. Over months, I watch from a distance as you become
more vulnerable, less afraid. I feel you shift and am moved to ease
up on myself, to drive more slowly, to listen for the holiness in the
voices of those closest to me. It’s still happening.

When we finally shave our heads, I worry the new look might
change me, harden my heart somehow; instead I find myself with
more time and space to think and feel, to rest and be, as though
I can take myself less seriously. Somehow more intentionality is
accessible without all that hair, that whole personality. And I can
hear the forest outside differently.

Witnessing the most fearsome possibility has raised us up, brought
us closer to ourselves and to our own trust. This surprising,
stunning chapter is still open for both of us.


          is not a loss

it is the giving up of
and fear

          that have no place in your life any longer


• • • 

Elena Brower is a mother, mentor, poet, artist, volunteer, bestselling author and host of the Practice You Podcast. She's taught yoga and meditation since 1999. Her first book, Art of Attention, has been translated into seven languages; her second, Practice You, is a bestseller. Her first collection of poetry, Softening Time, will be released in May 2023.

Her yoga classes and meditations are featured on Glo. Her virtual Engaged Mentorship is renowned for inviting analog creativity into online coursework, and her Perceptive Parenting audio course is a key resource for parents. Elena's spoken word poetry can be heard on Above & Beyond's Flow State albums, recently receiving a Gold record for the single, "Don't Leave." She works to elevate bright futures for girls, women and children through her support for Girls on Fire Leaders, On The Inside and Free Food Kitchen. Elena is commencing Buddhist Chaplaincy training in 2024.

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