Haiku Therapy

In the year before the pandemic, the year of my Wild Therapy training, I wrote lots of haiku. I wrote for myself and I took part in a haiku writing group online. Each week in the group there was a theme and each week I wrote a few haiku with that theme in mind, and a few others without. Sometimes my haiku were selected as one of the good ones, and sometimes they weren’t.

low winter sunshine
leaves caught in their own shadow
the green alkanet

For various reasons I slipped away from this writing practice over the last couple of years, and now I find myself returning to it.

mid-January
I had forgotten how clear
the blue sky can be

At the beginning of this year I re-read Natalie Goldberg’s book Three Simple Lines. It’s about her visits to Japan, and her experience of reading and writing haiku, and of Zen, and as I was reading it I began to pay special attention to the natural world. I was looking for haiku again.

mist and mist and mist
catkins and mist and mist and
mist and mist and mist

Setting the intention to write sets the intention to slow down and pay attention. When I pay attention something in the world my own cares and concerns give me some space. The busy mind quietens down a little (or a lot, sometimes) and I’m simply with whatever I’m paying attention to… and counting syllables.

This break is good for my well-being. Grounding myself in the physical world is good for my well-being. And of course, I am not completely absent from the haiku, I am always looking through my own eyes, and some of my own feeling is in the poem. Because I am writing a poem, the presence of whatever I’m feeling or thinking is balanced with some spaciousness, and that’s good for my well-being too.

waiting for insects
a rotting cider apple
its wide open heart

Now I’m reading Clark Stand’s guide to writing haiku, Seeds from a Birch Tree, and I’m keeping my eyes and ears open and a notebook handy.

If you want to introduce some moments of mindfulness in to your week, why not give it a go yourself?

the floor takes my weight
and that of the small spider
just as easily

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