I’ve been carrying this blog post around in my mind, in my heart, written in the pages of a notebook and on my lips for months.
I think it is the start of a new project, one that I am not able to move forward with right now because of my book, Your Big Bold Life Plan. By now my book and I are sick of each other, like adolescent siblings trapped in the back seat on a week-long road trip with dead iphone batteries and no service.
Sadly, my mom is not willing to moderate this very real struggle between my book and me. And so, I sit and slurp cup after cup of lukewarm coffee in cafe’s and hotels who will allow me to be the brooding writer in the corner. I am eager and welcoming to any distraction, today it is a lesson on poetry and mindfulness and their intimate connection.
For years, I’ve written Haiku. I love the simplicity and accessibility of it. I mean you don’t even have to rhyme! A Haiku is a Japanese poem normally with a theme having to do with nature, although that is not a rule I adhere tightly too if at all. The also traditionally have a juxtaposition between the lines or images (again one I don’t always stick to) The structure is a simple three-line expression with the main rule being syllable count (the rule I do use!):
Line one: Five Syllables
Line Two: Seven Syllables
Line Three: Five Syllables
I first introduced the power of Haiku to the littles (my children) as a road-trip distraction when they were seven and nine years old. They embraced the game with sizzling excitement and soon our car was buzzing along; a virtual poetry lab.
Reading the poems aloud to each other I found myself so filled with joy and appreciation for the things they had chosen to write about. The scraggly pines we were driving by, the light of the sun peeking through clouds, the freezing rain that turned to snow at the tippy top of our hike.
It was a glimpse into the highlight reel of their weekend. It was magical.
Last year my mother-in-law took our family on a once in a lifetime trip to Namibia. Namibia the home of the red sand dunes that grace covers of National Geographic. Rich fodder for Haiku. We were on a road-trip to kick all road-trips ass. My family of four, my two brothers-in-law, Vyv my wonderful mom-in-law and our guide Jimmy. Bumping along in a dusty Range Rover; teeth rattling some days for over eight hours!
The perfect time to bring out the Haiku. Just like the first road trip where haiku made its debut, the great Namibia Haiku slam was nothing short of a miracle. Each and every member of our troop was in it! Vyv made it mandatory that we each write one per day and ultimately collected them all as an accompaniment to a photo album.
As much as I loved the fun of seeing the experience through the eyes of my peeps, what I found most exciting about Haiku was the way the lens I began to look at the wonders around me changed. I reckon it to a professional photographer looking for the most beautiful angle of the dune vs. a novice like me snapping haphazardly with my ancient smart phone. Suddenly I was looking deeper. Trying to find the right memory to capture with words. To paint a picture with 17 syllables. I had focused awareness and so did generations of my family.
I’d slipped us all a mindfulness exercise disguised as a game. And it was the most simple, creative and fun mindfulness exercise I’ve ever done.
I am student of Mindfulness. I meditate, I’ve read books, taken courses, sat with experts and wholeheartedly believe in the power of bringing focused attention to the now. I believe that the only moment that matters is the one you are in right now. That you can choose to be happy, to notice the deep yellow ring around a pelican’s eye, the shimmer of a pod of dolphins, or the silhouette of a buck against red sand dunes. To take it all in with a deep appreciation and a poet’s eye.
In Mindfulness study, we work to bring our attention into the now. According to The Greater Good
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.
Writing Haiku is like a short cut to the now. No sitting, no breathing, no clearing of your mind although you can absolutely do those things too! I am calling the Haiku the first Zen Snack. Simple, yummy, bite sized exercises to try and make your life a little bigger, a little bolder and a little lighter!
Pick up a pen and scrap of paper and enjoy a shortcut to the now; with three lines, seventeen syllables you can be transported.
Make a Moment, Make a Day, Make a Life.