“I lay on a moment” by Julia on the couch

Thursday June 4, 2020
5 minutes
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou

it is loud and buzzing
like swatting a stubborn idea away so it doesn’t land on the face

label this distraction a thinking thought, the next a planning, the next, a dreaming

outside the jackhammer street ripper crows cawing seaguls calling

in the room over a snoozed alarm and again and again

it is not meant to be easy and
so it isn’t
a little thinking thinking planning

the recurrent fly invokes four nights in a row of winged creatures in dreams attacking
the unexpected curl

today when the injured crow unmoving behind the wheel of a parked truck opens its eyes
it is clear how young it always was

“nobody should let them in that night” by Julia on the bedroom floor

Wednesday May 20, 2020
5 minutes
Wuthering Heights
Emile Brontë

She whispered in her sleep state
something along the lines of
I do not need to wait for him…
And when the morning came and his
skin wrapped around hers, she could
only flutter her eyelids and sink
deeper into him.

The night before she had reached
a grand conclusion, sitting on the
veranda, sipping lemon water, sifting
through uncomfortable feelings.
She realized that she could leave without
him in tow, and without his permission,
surely, in a world safe enough for all
of her to wander through.

The sun setting pink in the sky was
reflecting off the clouds, a smoke
signal for her to pay attention to
and she noticed the way it rivaled
her desires to be free at last
from the confines of miscalculated

In the morning light she could have
left him right then and there and
worked very hard not to feel any
particular way about it but then
in that moment things burst open
and all she could want was everywhere
she already was.

The permission to leave, was enough,
and she gave it to herself without
discussing it with anyone outside
herself. It came from within and she
honoured it with a solitary bow
from the top of her head all the way
down to the centre of her longing.

“And it speaks to certain devils“ by Sasha in the trundle room

Tuesday, May 5, 2020
5 minutes
Another Vision
Patricia Nelson

“We think that by protecting ourselves
from suffering we are being kind
to ourselves,” Pema writes.

Walls made of feathers and playing cards
ash and lightning
photographs and receipts

Erected with a very well scrubbed poker face
A very well stocked pantry
A very good pretending disguised as meditation

Then a flash of light and you’re
sat across from the devil
wearing the clothes of someone

You thought you knew so well
Paint a layer of nice between
two slices of bread you kneaded for many years

“Sit comfortably” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Sunday January 19, 2020
5 minutes
Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation

I lean towards the left and the right. I reach up and clasp my hands together over my head. I bend forward. There’s a snow storm in the forecast. There’s a boiled egg on the shelf in the fridge that’s been there for way to long. How long does it take for a cooked egg to go off? Is this something to Google? Something to text mother? Oh. Wait. Mother is dead. I only started meditating after the accident. I used to roll my eyes at people who meditated. Like yoga. Ridiculous. I guess the leaning to and fro is basically yoga. Who have I become? Mother is furrowing her brow, if she has one in heaven. That’s for sure. Goodness gracious. Is this meditating? Is this what it is? I squeeze my eyes shut. I remove my tongue from the roof of my mouth, like the teacher said to do, the one at the Zen Centre on East Broadway.

“in the present moment for” by Sasha at her desk

Friday August 16, 2019
5 minutes
Marcus Aurelius

You are liquid sliming between the cracks in the tile on the kitchen floor
You are the three stars in a row speckled across the sky like a belly
like a line of freckles or braille spelling out
You are a fox running through a birch forest no leaves just peeling bark
and howling hearts
You are a tug at the grounding stitch
You are a tsunami washing out villages washing away dolls and dreams and sunscreen
You are a meditation on impermanence an unacknowledged silence
You are a death
You are the crest of a wing spanning East to West
stretching borders and fault lines with your misconceptions
You are a mushroom in the moss in the woods in the quiet

“never stop bringing hope to humanity” by Sasha on her couch

Friday November 2, 2018
5 minutes
More Than Cooking
Marla Cimini

Light a candle
on the alter, where you
are, where we are,
Animal forms and a few
green things and rocks
from the woods.
Pray to the highest
cosmic force, pray
to love.

It’s always
something, isn’t it?
It’s then quake of the
heart in the face
of a call to arms.
It’s the gentle calling
towards softness towards
release towards relax
towards slow.

Morning brings
something new
now, an anointment of honey
on the third eye,
ash on the lips, a mantra
of let go
let go let
go let go.

“I knew that sitting like that would bring me happiness.”by Julia on her couch

Friday January 12, 2018
5 minutes
How To Sit
Thich Nhat Hanh

I sat there, sitting, and a bird came and perched itself on my shoulder. Isn’t that incredible? I invited the bird with my stillness. I sat there, sitting, and a bird sat there, sitting on me. How fascinating. I am the inviter. The invitation. The inventor. I invent still moments for my body to sit sweetly. I give choice to my bones, I say “loud or quiet?” I say “moving or moved?” I like this new sitting style. I like knowing how much I used to avoid it. How much it used to fill the room with loud even when I did not say. I do not say loud if I can help it. I like hearing every part of my legs and every part of my stomach and they will speak if they don’t have to yell. And it is helping more than just the room. It is helping every house inside my skin.

“I’ll avoid her for a few weeks” by Julia on her couch

Saturday March 19, 2016
5 minutes
from a text

If I close my eyes I can almost hear perfect silence. The buzz of the fridge seems to disappear. The beeping of the trucks backing up outside my balcony are muted. I can get centred without going anywhere at all. I’ve been practicing getting zen and doing it under pressure as that’s the most necessary time. Sheila says that if I practice every single day, reaching for meditation every single time I have the urge to call her instead, I’ll really start to form a habit. I think Sheila has a point. You can’t reach zen when you’re trying to make plans to go mini-golfing, or asking someone about knitting. I think Sheila is doing the exact same thing every time she thinks of calling me. I imagine her sitting there on the floor 6 or 7 times a day if she’s being diligent about curbing the urge. I don’t remember the last time Sheila even called me so her approach must be working! If I can get to a point where I don’t even think about how little human contact I’ve had, I’ll call that a success.

“SUPREMEBEING” by Sasha on her couch

Thursday February 25, 2016
5 minutes
Treasures & Travels Blog

Close your eyes and picture the SUPREMEBEING, faceless but smiling, genderless and all-knowing. Close your eyes and picture the SUPREMEBEING, in all their wordless, worldness, nothingness glory, with the glow of the harvest sky in their non-existent eyes. The SUPREMEBEING knows your secrets and your lies, your treacheries and your victories, the birth and death of this moment and the next, the almost of the future and the sepia tone of the past. Close your eyes and breathe in through your open heart, down to your root, up to the scalp and beyond. Close your eyes and say to the SUPREMEBEING, “I am enough.” Say it. Picture the SUPREMEBEING and say it: “I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH!” Raise your voices and say it all together so that the SUPREMEBEING might hear us!

“everyone can help themselves” by Julia at her dining table

Monday, January 11, 2016
5 minutes

Mind Body Connection:
Deep breath
Okay, good
Breathing, breathing
I don’t need to be told to breathe
Well you stopped
Because I was thinking!
Are you serious?
Yes, very serious
Fine, deep f–
No swearing
Come ON, how did you know I was even going to?
Because you’re very transparent and stubborn and I’ve been observing you
I am
Okay then do it
Yes, breathe
okay, Deep Breath
yes, good, continue
I am alone on a rock
Oh, good, rock is good,
I am alone and I am breathing—
I AM, I told you I don’t need you to tell me
I am breathing
breathing in and out calmly, slowly, to encourage you
Is this even about me?
Yes, very serious.

“Reimagine your world” by Julia on her couch

Thursday, October 22, 2015
5 minutes
The Vancouver Writer’s Festival Program Guide

There’s a little place you go to, that no one knows about. You hang your worries on the line separating this place and yours. You twist them all together to create a veil and then you pass through it once it’s in order. You see the water falls and you run to them. You strip off your doubts and you dive off the cliff. You hit the water with a gentle ease and you head down as deep as you can go. You see what you need to see then slowly make your way back up. You can taste the sunlight beaming right through you and you reach the surface with a joy you have learned how to forget. You inhale. You shake off your pain and you rise up. Higher than the water. Higher than the skies.

“When we love” by Sasha on her porch

Saturday, August 29, 2015
5 minutes
from a quote by Jean Shinoda Bolen

When we love
we burn the sweetgrass of our lover’s breath
A meditation
like the caterpillar crawling across the grass
When we love
we leave behind what we don’t need
The snakes skin
A brittle forgotten pile on the side of the dirt road
When we love
we worship at the feet of a many sided God
we adorn her with rose oil
we kiss each toe
When we love
we wash in holy water
we sacrifice everything we thought we knew
for something mysteriously more
for something more holy than we ever knew possible

“When, Finally and inevitably,” by Julia at Barb’s house in Vernon

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
5 minutes
Louis Taylor

I’ve seen the sun, he was locked away, hiding.
I whispered to him often, reminding him to take his time.
I said hello to him every morning, and I bowed my head down deep.
He didn’t want to come out.
He didn’t want to be my guide.
Sometimes facing the day is hard for everyone.
But he was there and I could tell that he needed to set himself free.
I knew because I had lived that way before.
I knew because revealing feels bad before it feels good.
I knew because in the shadows no one can see your smile, or the one you think you’re wearing.
Then after all my meditations and salutations and exaltations, I asked him quietly if I should go.
I leaned in close to catch it: he didn’t want to be left alone.

“If you find yourself with a free second” by Sasha on the ferry

Thursday, June 11, 2015
5 minutes
from a staff meeting handout

let’s lose ourselves in each particle of sand each blade of grass each small meringue of beauty if you find yourself with a free second breathe in the magenta the azure the forest green
take back the things you don’t need
someone might
take back the records you don’t listen to and the photographs of lovers you no longer love
if you’re carrying something heavier than you want
put it down
let it go
check back in a day or two and see if someone’s taken it
maybe it’s on their coffee table now amongst black and white photography books
maybe it’s holding up a tropical plant

“Just go in the direction where there is no direction” by Sasha at Culprit Coffee

Tuesday May 26, 2015 at Culprit Coffee
5 minutes
Forbidden Rumi
Tr. By Nevit O. Ergin and Will Johnson

blurring past a cityscape
hoping for a swift mistake
making friends with the unknown
just go
in that direction
or really
now is that direction
not a direction but
oh well
fishing in the ocean deep
make a promise you can keep
evening primrose kisses
blood’s all washed off
the greyhound lurches and you spurt a prophecy
i love you most in the rain
i love you most when you’re hurtin’
i love you most when i’m
let’s take that as our last name

“this is the best place” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday February 4, 2015
5 minutes

Today I met a ghost named Bob. He wasn’t anything that special. Just your average “Joe” ghost. He had a pretty bad combover, but, I’m not gonna get picky about stuff like that. I was meditating on the living room floor. I need to sit with my back against the wall because otherwise my back cramps. I was sitting there and then I just hear, “Hey.” And… It’s Bob. “What do you want?” I asked him, opening only one eye. I didn’t want him to get the idea that I cared for him to stick around or something. “Just looking for a place to nap. Got an extra bed?” “Nope!” I said, closing my eye. He sighed in quite a passive aggressive display. “I’m trying to meditate!” Bob laughed. “You’re doing terribly,” he said, sitting his bum down on the floor beside me. “I’m Bob,” he whispered. It was cool on my cheek, not like our breath. That’s the main difference, I guess. The temperature of the breath.

“please take my advice” by Sasha on the 99 Bus

Wednesday October 8, 2014
5 minutes
from a man’s t-shirt

The tree outside my house is on fire
Glowing sunshine and change
The squirrel followed me here
This new (not so new) place
The squirrel stops and looks and runs and looks
The arbutus shakes my spirit like a tambourine
The arbutus sheds her bark like I wish I knew how
It’s cold in the morning
You light a fire
You flick the switch
You fill the kettle with water and I wait for it to boil
I curl my toes
Like bark
I breathe a sigh of relief that time is here
That now is here
That it’s October and sometimes I see familiar faces
You make my tea and you bring it to me while I try to meditate on the grey cushion
The tree outside my house teaches me about letting go
And the sage I burn teaches me about smoke
and longing
And you teach me about love
Every day
Every autumn
Our third one
We fall in Fall and in falling we open and in opening we live our fullest beauty.

“#PRACTICE” by Julia at Starbucks

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at Starbucks
5 minutes
The Dentyne Ice Subway Poster

Trent was a bit of an overachiever. He worked very hard at everything and always had the least amount of fun possible when doing things. He started out as a controlling child, and no one ever led him in any other direction, so he became a controlling teen, then a controlling young adult, then a controlling full adult. He didn’t seem to mind that none of his friends ever lasted more than 4-6 months. He was not interested in forever friends. He was interested in his forever future. Trent once chewed a stick of bubble gum for over 6 hours because he wanted to prove that it could be done. No one was competing against him. He wanted to win all by himself and for himself. Trent knew how to centre his mind and ensure that even if it were an uncomfortable circumstance, he would be able to persevere. He practised meditating more than anyone he could think of because he wanted to be a master. He wanted to be a master of literally everything imaginable. He meditated so hard sometimes he would miss meals, miss weddings, miss important things in life. Trent considered “importance” relative anyway. Who is to say what’s really important?

“Sharks spotted” by Sasha on the Queen Streetcar going West

Monday February 17, 2014
5 minutes
the news feed at Ossington Station

“Michael?!” She calls, “What are you doing in your room? It’s so quiet!… Are you… meditating?” She’s right up close, I can practically hear her nails tapping on the door. “I’m fine, Mom,” I say, quietly. “What?” She says. She waits. “I’m making you a sandwich. You’re getting too skinny.” She trots down the stairs. I close my eyes. I breathe in, covering one nostril and out, covering the other. I picture white light surrounding the house, Alfalfa and Ruby. I spot a shark coming in from out of nowhere. I used to have nightmares about sharks but haven’t thought about them since I reached puberty. The shark swims through the window in the kitchen, takes one look at my mother, and eats her whole. “Shit!” I shout, my eyes opening, my breath rising high. A light tap on the door. “Michael?” She says. I sigh. “Yeah?” “I’m leaving an egg salad sandwich outside your door. Come and get it in a second or two or Alfalfa will have diarrhea for a week because of you.” I go to the door and open it. I kiss her on the cheek. I take a bite out of the sandwich.

“Modesty. Timidity. Humility. Respect.” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
5 minutes
The Art of Pantomime
Charles Aubert

Modesty. Timidity. Humility. Respect. Heart. Bravery. Willingness. Vulnerability. Awake. Bravery. Hunger. Fear. Joy. Laughter. Ferocity. Understanding. Unknown.

Whenever he sits to meditate, on his red, round cushion, he finds himself doing word association. He doesn’t admit this to his teacher. He says, “sometimes I have trouble clearing my mind…” His teacher nods. His teacher says, “The goal is not clearing the mind, it is treating the thoughts as waves on the ocean.”

It’s windy. There are whitecaps. The canoe bobs like a buoy. He’s seasick. He sees a killer whale.


Hello friends of these five minutes!
We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Writer’s Workout on Sunday August 25, 2013 as a part of The Toronto Urban Artist’s Retreat.
We will lead the group through a series of timed writing exercises, using our “dips” as well as other various prompts.
TUA is going to be an amazing day filled with writing, yoga, meditation, and inspiration.
Click the above link for more information, and please don’t hesitate to share this event with those that may be interested.
We hope you will be joining us!

-Sasha and Julia

“Softness, protection, control” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
5 minutes
from the macadamia oil bottle

Sheena was practicing her mindfulness. She was channeling light and focussing on dying her hair a magnificent shade of midnight blue by the end of the week. Her skin was soft, her eyes turned inward. Sheena was breathing slowly, thoughtfully. She had started meditating when Christopher died because it seemed like the only thing she could do without hurting herself. Midnight blue, and then maybe turquoise by December. She let her thoughts glide to Christopher and then back again, without punishment. She was allowed to miss him. She was allowed to see other men and be reminded of him. But that was not always easy. Sometimes she’d forget where she was or who she was and start hugging strangers. It was something, her therapist calmly told her, that was not okay. Sheena knew that anyway. She just couldn’t help herself on certain days.

“genuine liquor bottles” by Sasha on the King car going West

Friday June 7, 2013
5 minutes
Fall On Your Knees
Anne-Marie MacDonald

There’s a joy, a huge crest of joy, with frothy foam on top, foam like the head on the best beer, the beer that we drank on that patio in Vienna, that comes from scrubbing the tub. When I was there, on my knees, sweat forming on my upper lip, the smell of tea tree oil and vinegar lingering in the air, I was the most frustrated I’d ever been, or so I thought in that moment. I let out a, “AHHHH!” and scared the neighbour, who thought that I was in bodily distress, in existential crisis, in spiritual agony. And then, the phoenix from the flame, I laughed, hard and long. I laughed til tears flowed, til tears mixed with tea tree oil and vinegar and helped to clean the soap scum and the tiny flecks of shaved off hair.

“Well, we’ve since learned” by Sasha at her desk

Thursday, May 30, 2013
5 minutes
rebar: modern food cookbook
Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz

Well, since we’ve learned our times tables we should be able to multiply! We should be able to do the longest division! We should be able to eat doubles and triples of both peas and juniper berries alike! Since we’ve learned addition and subtraction, we should be able to see that adding one tablespoon of teethmarks and taking away two molars with a simple yank or two gives the perfect love bite! Since we’ve learned about velocity and geometry, theories of physics and biology, since we waded into tide-pools with starfish and romance, we now know that there is a Higher Power, a Supreme Governing Spirit… Call it what you will, Doctors of Life, call it what you will, some things simply cannot be explained. Let us sit, in silence, for thirty three minutes, oh, the divinity of the number three. Let us sit and pay homage to the Sun and the Moon and Jupiter! Let us pay homage to the rules and the questions and the non-answers!

“no matter what she wears.” By Sasha at The Common on Bloor

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at The Common on Bloor
5 minutes
from a quote by Anne Roiphe

“We need to get him to start meditating, Carmen,” he hears his father say to his mother. It’s their Monday night phone call. When they’d first separated they had only communicated via e-mail. Two years later, now that he was seven, they spoke, once a week, about how he was doing. They’d even braved parent-teacher interviews. Together. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it. “He’s having trouble concentrating, Carmen,” his father said. Was he repeating himself. He imagined what his mother might be saying on the other end of the line, if she was raising her voice, if she felt vulnerable because he spent more time with her. His father was, “mmm-ing”. They were agreeing. Great. Great. His father laughed, “I know, I know. Last time I set the timer to twelve minutes and I didn’t tell him!” His father laughed again, louder this time. He had had enough. He went down to the kitchen, where there was another phone. He picked up. “Carlos?” Said his mother, “Is that you?” He couldn’t find his voice. “Carlos!” His father said, “This is a private conversation!” He held his breath. “Honey, I know you’re there…” Said his mother.

“Offer their two cents” by Julia on her bed

Monday February 4, 2013
5 minutes

Mindy and Alex were roasting sweet potatoes (simultaneously) and they were in completely different houses, in completely different towns, in completely different provinces, and yet, at the same time, without consulting one another, the two (who were madly in love) were participating in a communal activity. The way people who spend a lot of time together start dressing in certain matching colour schemes? That’s this. Only through consciously sent happy and mutual thoughts. She thinks about him making up a song about meditation, and usually, he meditates. He thinks about squeezing her arms and she’s getting her blood pressure checked. Made to be (swoon!). It’s one of those things you either love or hate when you’re not the people doing the loving. If you hate it that’s okay too. But that’s only because you want what they’ve got!