The five main senses are some of the most important tools that we use to perceive the world. They are sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. We see with our eyes, we smell with our noses, we listen with our ears, we taste with our tongue, and we touch with our skin. Our brain receives messages from each of these organs which helps us to interpret them to give us a sense of what’s happening around us. The five senses are an important part of what makes a haiku in the moment. Our five main senses always bring us back into the present moment. In haiku, there is always one and sometimes more of the senses in each poem that creates a variety of moods, feelings and emotions. It’s so easy to go through life on auto pilot where we’re no longer connected to our senses and haiku is one way to help bring us back to that. When you read a well written haiku you should be able to feel at least one or more of these senses.
What of the five main senses do you love the most?
TOUCH: Touch is a wonderful sensation that is often used in haiku. It can make you feel connected to the earth and to nature. By focusing on things that you can feel physically it can help you stay more present. Really experience how things feel on your skin. How do your clothes feel? What is the texture of the fabric? How does it feel to run your hands across a smooth marble table or a cobble stone pathway. Immerse yourself in everything that you can touch and feel.
SMELL. The sweet smell of Spring rain. Scent can often bring a beautiful sensation to haiku that can bring you into the moment. Close your eyes and bring to your attention what you can smell right now. Do you smell food cooking or someone’s coffee brewing? Or, is there a scent of fresh air that has a hint of fragrance to it. Can you smell the shampoo you used earlier in the day in your hair? Wherever you are, try to pinpoint some of the scents that you can recognize.
SOUND. Can you hear your own heart beating? When you get really quiet and close your eyes it’s amazing just what you can hear. Sound is often used to convey sensations to bring you into the haiku. The sound of snow…. this illustrates a very peaceful and quiet scene. Listen to what is going on outside. Do you hear birds? Rush hour traffic? Is the rain pounding on the rooftop? Tune into what you hear and really listen to all that is around you.
TASTE. Slowing down to eat can enhance your ability to be present with the sensation of taste. Have you ever been so hungry that you gobble down your meal and were unable to even really taste it? The use of taste in haiku helps to make it more sensual. The image of white frothy swirls sitting on top of a steamy cup of hot chocolate or ice cream melting can make your mouth water. Pay attention to all the different flavours the world has to offer.
SIGHT. Have you ever looked at a flower and taken the time to really look at it? Looking at the details of the petals and leaves, paying attention to the colours, the textures and characteristics. Sight is probably the most used of the senses in haiku. It helps the reader to visualize where the haiku is taking place. Setting a scene in a moment of time is what sight does. Noticing what is around you is what can keep you in the moment.
We sometimes tend to take our five main senses for granted. Unless something goes wrong with one of these senses, the ordinary person continues seeing and touching, smelling odours, tasting tastes and hearing sounds, sometimes without giving a second thought to the beautiful world around us. When we connect to our senses, we are present and able to connect with others and haiku can help us to do this everyday.