Haiku about Animals: Week 7 of rewriting your well-being
Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.George Eliot, Mr Gilfil’s Love Story
A warm welcome to week 7 of Haiku for You, the interactive blog-series that for 12 weeks, takes you on a guided tour of how to achieve daily mindfulness by writing your very own haiku. There is no need to feel anxious if you are new here. Every day is a new experience for us all and we are all learning together. This is key to feeling comfortable in our own minds.
If you would like to read further information about my blog-series, feel free to have a glance at my introductory post, which explains the inspiration behind it all. For those who have been publishing their haiku in the comments sections, I am so grateful for being given a glimpse into your mindful moments and I look forward to reading more over the coming weeks.
Now, are you all ready to begin this session?
Have you found a look-out point, a seat in the garden or a view through a window?
Take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
I ask you this because this week, we are going to talk about those with the beaks, snouts, paws, whiskers and waggling tails that we cannot ignore:
Thoughts about Animals
Did you know, that not only is nature helpful for our well-being, but more recently, studies have proved that the presence of animals can benefit our mental health? Animal-assisted therapy is truly finding its feet throughout hospitals and homes, as it aids rehabilitation for people, and generally promotes a soothing atmosphere for those who are struggling with their mental health.
What makes animal therapy so effective?
The presence of a non-judgemental animal can improve our confidence, as well as provide company in times of loneliness. Even the sensation of repetitively stroking a soft, warm coat has proved to be calming for those who battle stress and anxiety.
Dogs, for example, can provide an ambiance of safety and security, as well as being mood-lifters thanks to their naturally upbeat temperaments. They can also provide us with an additional purpose. Whether we are taking a dog for a walk, placing a bowl out to feed a visiting four-legged friend, or sprinkling some birdseed, a creature somewhere is gratefully flourishing due to our involvement.
Where to find your own animal therapy
When we talk about being in the company of animals, this definitely doesn’t solely refer to pets. Don’t worry if you don’t have any! (Neither do I.) However, there is an abundance of life all around us every day: the birds who visit your windowsill while you work, the snails that leave their tracks along the flagstones, the yellow and black striped caterpillars who wriggle up and down the fence, or the butterflies that grace your wildflowers with their fluorescent presence. It could be next door’s cat, a stealth hedgehog you only catch a glimpse of or just the unwelcome summer spider who pops up in the bathroom every morning.
And don’t forget, these creatures may even be in need of some mindfulness too. Look out for their patterns; the way a spider spins its web, or the way ants work in teams. Think of how you have your own similar habits.
Observe an animal or creature, no matter how small, and consider that the act it’s partaking in is so important to its life. Is it a bird picking up food that it will carry back to its nest? Is it a squirrel hiding nuts to be discovered in winter? Where does the cat travel during the day, I wonder? Try and put yourself in someone else’s paws.
Mindfulness and animals
Watching the world through an animal’s eyes can help us detach from ourselves for a little while, which we all know is essential sometimes. Animals are so refreshingly honest about their intentions that it can be entertaining to watch them relish in their successes. This could be a cat playing with a ball of yarn, a dog receiving a pat on the head, or a bird finally catching that wriggly worm.
We could consider ourselves in a similar way. If we simplify our actions into what we want and what we do, the world can immediately feel less overwhelming. Mindfulness helps us confront the world step by step, rather than in a grandiose and sometimes unachievable way.
It is said that a dog lives for the present day. We could definitely learn a few things from our furry companions. This is why mindfulness is so important. Practise focusing on positive moments that bring you meaning and pure enjoyment or comfort. What are they? It is different for everyone. There is a whole ecosystem beneath our feet; a world of moles’ tunnels, insects and worms, and they are all interacting with their piece of earth, giving it the importance it deserves at all times.
Haiku about animals: some examples of my own
Month of quarantine next door’s cat claws at the glass, her fur is unkempt.
Two cats crossing paths - paws licked for twenty seconds; social distancing.
Pecking at their corpse - another branch has broken; magpies stand in suits.
How to write your own haiku about animals
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. Find a viewing point where you can observe a living creature
If it is small and wild, be silent not to disturb it.
2. How does it look?
Does it have feathers? Does it have a fur coat? How many legs does it have? How does it move around?
3. Note what sound this creature makes
Does it make a sound? Does it squeak, chirp or bark?
4. How does this particular moment feel?
What atmosphere does the living creature create? What mood does it express? Happy, sad, mischievous, angry and persistent? Does it know you are there?
5. List down three positives about this moment
How does the creature interact with the world around it? What matters to it in that moment?
6. It’s time to write!
For this exercise, you can either choose to write from the perspective of your chosen animal or use the above techniques to write your haiku about animals through your own eyes.
Just remember, it’s three lines of 5-7-5 syllables! Refer back to How to write Haiku guidelines.
So, close your eyes and take another deep breath in …
and then back out …
What would someone think if they were observing you?
This question is not about judgment. It is actually about the opposite. We are a part of nature just like the animals we see, and we have a right to feel just as uninhibited as the red-breasted robins or the singing sparrows. Don’t be afraid if you are nudged out of the comfort of your own nest for a while. It could be an opportunity to spread your wings and fly!
So, if we feel small in an enormous world, that’s okay. These moments of mindfulness are intended to temporarily dissolve our responsibility. For now, during this session, we are just humans taking part in an act of self-care. The rest of the time, this can involve the way we eat, sleep, and live in a way that makes us happy and most importantly, healthy.
Thank you for taking the time to join me in appreciating the side of nature that barks, meows and cuckoos. Next week, I promise to equip you with another new theme for much more mindfulness! (But I’ll keep it a secret for now.)
So, how are animals going to influence you this week? Ruffle those feathers, purr when the world changes brushstrokes and whistle a wonderful tune no matter who is listening. Most importantly, squirrel away on paper. Remember, we are fascinating creatures in our own right.
Now, let’s haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about animals in the comments section below each post.
See last week – Week Six: Haiku about Dreams
Animals are life! Here is my Haiku 🙂
My heart beats slower
As you purr upon my chest
Awh, and I can sense the sincerity in your poetry, Anna! Thanks so much for this lovely haiku. You’ve actually shown the image of a pet/should I say family member, as a true lifeline that speaks straight to and from the heart – literally and figuratively. 🙂
I love that haiku Anna. It brought back that lovely warm feeling of having a cat purring on you. Feeling loved!!
If I ever move house- unlikely- it will have to be somewhere I can have a cat, Not on a busy road like I am now!!
Give your cat a gentle stroke on his/her head from me xx
A Kite soars high above
Daily visits makes me smile
Floating on the wing
Isn’t it lovely how those daily visits by all sorts of creatures really make a difference to us? 🙂 Birds have a subtle power to make an onlooker feel as free as them too. Thanks for introducing the kite to us, Wendy. 🙂
Waiting for darkness
Under a myriad stars
Watchful owl screeches.
Ooo, another one that could be either through the writer’s eyes or the owl’s! Fantastic! That makes it extra intriguing. You have created a beautiful sky there too. The setting is like the beginning of a story. Thanks, Chris. 🙂
Wearying trudge uphill
Out of a hedge darts a hare
Jump for joy
Wow, that jump for joy works so perfectly in the last line! Effort is transformed into delight. I love how it can either refer to the poet or the hare; a moment where we feel at one with nature. 🙂
Haiku About Animals
Slept by my bed to guard me
Dog of my childhood
This one really touches on that instinctive empathy and protective nature that dogs can have. Wilderness, freedom and safety all mixed into one, as well as trust. This is really lovely, Carolyn. Thank you. 🙂
Your paws have claws so
should I pause before cuddling
you, Lumbering Bear?
I enjoyed the inner conflict of this one: how a large animal can look so endearing and harmless in one moment, but there is always that risk involved. The ‘lumbering’ also adds an interesting vulnerability. Thanks, Peter! 🙂
Sheltering from sun
Among the cracked flower pots
An old cat slumbers.
Awww, I like this one a lot. I can completely sense the tiredness of the cat, especially with the boiling weather we have had recently! A lovely relaxed image. I’m glad the cat is taking care too. 🙂
weary trudge uphill
there darts a hare
the heart jumps for joy
(earlier version shortened to give it more immediacy)
Beware tiger eyes
Study the stealthlike movement
Thanks for this! 🙂 I enjoyed the detail of this haiku. I can imagine a household cat considering itself to be a tiger, and with the same confident fire in its eyes. This is a great animation of nature!
One of our walks from our house during lockdown has been to a local old reservoir, now even more so a sanctuary for animals and people alike!
Tiny frogs emerge
From safety of the shallows,
Quick now! Find shelter!
Baby moorhen stand
Quivering on lily pads,
Long legs akimbo.
Shaggy dog runs free
With no thought of direction
Or hearing Master!
I love how everyone’s haiku both feature domestic pets and wildlife… I know that my children have become so much more attuned to the features and changes in nature these last few months. xx
These haiku are very sweet and this dog sounds like a very loveable one! I imagine this is how many people and animals will feel after social distancing disappears. It sounds like a lovely walk with so many wonderful finds. Thanks, Lotte!
Thank you all for your lovely haikus and comments on mine 🙂
Calf, a dared approach,
Lowering a grateful head,
Awh. I really like this one too. The innate caution of the calf is captured so well. And, there is space left for imagination where the rest of the story isn’t directly told. Thank you. 🙂