Mindfulness and Haiku

Did you know that mindfulness and haiku share a connection? Mindfulness is the ability to be in the present moment without judgment, and having an awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations as they arise. Because haiku is written in the present tense, is based on awareness and the senses, this is what makes it mindful. Everything about haiku is based on these principles. About five years ago, I began reading more about mindfulness and since I’ve been learning and writing haiku for much longer, I was able to see the direct connection between them. 

A good haiku captures something that transcends the moment, while at the same time can only be expressed “in the moment.”  It combines the internal mind of the poet and the external experience of the person reading the haiku. The poet is expressing a moment from his or her life, and the reader is experiencing the haiku through his or her own lens. Typically, each reader will have a thought, feeling or interpretation which is different from those of other people who are reading the same haiku. Haiku offers us the opportunity to pause in the moment, that is, if we take it. The busyness of life often pushes aside these moments of mindful reflection. It takes practice and an openness to not only read the haiku, but to experience within yourself and how it makes you feel. 

Mindfulness has been around for centuries and is everywhere these days. It became more popular in the 90’s along side with yoga and meditation. But, did you know that It originated from concepts of awareness cultivated in Eastern Philosophy and isn’t limited to just having a meditation practice? Most modern Western practitioners and teachers of mindfulness learned about mindfulness in the Buddhist and Hindu tradition that dates back in time. Mindfulness came from the East to the West from one of the biggest influencer’s, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Just like when yoga came onto the scene, some thought it was just a fad, but it’s still going strong and it appears to me that mindfulness is the same. These spiritual practices have become SO important, especially over the past couple of years since Covid and other stresses we are currently facing in the world. 

These days, I know that a lot of people who are going within and bringing mindfulness into their everyday lives. Thousands of years ago, mindfulness and mediation was mostly practiced by nuns and monks who would sit and be in silence for hours at a time. The good thing about today, is that we don’t need to become a nun or a monk to do this. Mindfulness can become a part of your everyday life, but it takes a commitment and awareness to change your habits so it embodies your being. 

Last week I was grocery shopping and when I went to pay, the woman at the check out appeared to be sad and low energy. She reminded me of Eeyore, who is one of the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Eeyore is known for being gloomy and depressed. I smiled at her and she asked me if was raining outside (she couldn’t tell) and I told her it was overcast with pockets of sunshine. She then told me that by the time she finished her shift that it would most likely be raining. My heart sank for her, as I could feel her sadness. I gave her a little pep talk and recommended that she could tell herself that it will be sunny and our thoughts create our reality. She said that she didn’t want think it would be sunny because it always leads to disappointment. I wanted to sit down with her and share so much more, but it was time for me to pay up and move on. As I was leaving, I told her to have a sunny afternoon and went on my way.

My short interaction with this woman struck me so profoundly and confirmed to me just how important mindfulness is. How it can help us make changes with how we think and see the world. It is simply becoming more aware of our surroundings and our thoughts, letting them come and go with the acceptance of what is. Even when it’s raining, we can choose to see the beauty in it and know that the sun is still there even if we can’t see it. 

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