Spending time outdoors has been proven to boost your energy and is a simple way to kick-start a happy mood, improve well-being and practice mindfulness. Being in nature can also help us to be more present and establish a strong mind-body connection.
Since haiku is always written in the present tense it can provide healing moments even if you can’t always get outdoors. Reading haiku can take you to another time and place, giving you a respite in the middle of the day to take a deep breath and relax.
Have you ever gone for a walk and found that you’ve arrived at your destination without being able to recall what you saw, heard and even smelled? When surrounded by nature, your senses are enhanced — the sound of abird fluttering its wings or the physical sensation of your breath entering and exiting your lungs becomes a sharper, more readily observed experience. One aspect of writing haiku poetry as the Japanese masters did in the 17th century involves going for what is called in Japan a “Ginko walk”. A Ginko walk, is known simply as a haiku walk; it describes the habit of haiku poets going out in small groups to write haiku and share their outdoor experience. Sometimes this was done at the beginning of the season, so the poets could practice their powers of observation. Either alone or with a group of other poets, the haiku writers would try to observe everything that they saw. The purpose of the walk is to notice what you see in order to be inspired to write a haiku poem. Haiku poets often will take a note pad or even a recording device with them to record things that they see that pique their interest. It’s a wonderful tool not only for writing but for staying in the moment, connected with nature. By paying attention to your surroundings you can see all of the goodness that Mother Nature has to offer.
Over the past couple of days I’ve been feeling somewhat saddened and discouraged about the state of the world. Then, I decided that the best thing I could do to lift my spirits was to go for a Ginko Walk to help me be inspired to write haiku. I recently discovered a short little trail that weaves along the ocean shore with the thick of the forest on the other side. While I was walking, I came across a sweet and magical “Fairy Garden” that someone thoughtfully created. Not only did this bring a smile to my face, but it lifted my spirits, filled me up with hope and gave me the inspiration I was lacking to write haiku for this months theme.
Being in nature is one of the most important things you can do to gain mindfulness and to stay present. One of the things that I love the most about haiku is the connection it shares with nature. Nature is expressed through haiku OR you could say that haiku expresses itself through nature. It is an invitation to be in the moment and connect with the beauty and magic of the great outdoors that takes you within. It can sometimes be filled with mystery giving your own experience through the lens of how you see the world. I was given the gift of seeing a special garden created by someone else and then writing a haiku about it so I could pass it on to others to enjoy and feel as if they were there with me.
Nature gives us an abundance of wisdom and gifts when we choose to open our eyes and become one with it. Have you ever heard of Forest Bathing? Forest Bathing is another powerful way to connect with nature that is comes from the Japanese culture.
I invite you to come on a little journey into the woods with me… Imagine being in a mystical forest, surrounded by a thousand hues of green while you sink into a luxurious, hot, steamy claw-footed bathtub. You’re in the middle of nowhere, bubbles are pouring over the sides of the tub as you emerge further into the water, taking you to a deep place of relaxation and calm. The fresh smell of evergreen and moss tickles your nose. The sound of the forest is quiet and serene and all of your senses are alive. You look up to the sky and see the trees swaying to a gentle breeze and you begin to feel as if you’ve become one with them.
Doesn’t that sound amazing? Is this Forest Bathing? Well, kind of…..
Forest Bathing originated in Japan in the early 1980’s where is it called Shinrin-yoku which means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. Forest Bathing is regarded as a form of nature therapy that provides a number of health benefits that includes: reducing blood pressure, increasing the ability to focus, speeds up the healing process, gives you more energy and enhances the ability to relax. We are designed to be connected to the natural world, to “listen to the wind and taste the air” and this is what makes haiku so special. Being one with nature is one of the most powerful and best ways to heal our bodies, soul and spirit.