The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.Eleanor Roosevelt
Greetings from week 6 of Haiku for You, where you can huddle up to haiku and learn how to use its written form as an act of mindfulness. Every week, I’ll provide a new writing prompt along with an easy guide that I hope will bring some stillness to your hectic lives.
To any newcomers, please join us in this happiness practice. If you would like to read a more in-depth explanation of Haiku for You, wander over to the introductory post, and we will look forward to welcoming you upon your return!
Now, make sure you feel extra comfortable for this session. Consider where you might normally take an afternoon nap or curl up beneath a blanket. Where do you put your feet up after a long day? That will be the perfect place.
Take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
This week, you are going on a journey you could navigate with your eyes closed:
Thoughts about sleep
It’s not surprising that falling behind on our recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night can be a nightmare for our mental health in a variety of ways. We all know that an evening of no shut-eye can make us feel as though our bodies are twice as heavy and our brains have turned into mashed potato.
Problems with our mental health can cause problems with our sleep and problems with our sleep can cause or exacerbate problems with our mental health. This is why it’s so important to monitor both on a regular basis, and do what we can (where we are able) to prevent either from spiralling out of control.
A healthy perspective on sleep
Sleep, for many people – due to its troublesome and unpredictable nature – can become something we dread or procrastinate from, rather than look forward to. I am going to try to help you re-frame sleep under a positive guise through the use of haiku.
Think of your sleeping place as a departure lounge before you jet off to a different destination. We should never see sleep as a luxury for other people. Sleep is a necessity. Our energy allows us to operate at full capacity and be who we are, so don’t underestimate it.
If we don’t sleep properly, we are offering a smaller part of ourselves to the world. In the same way need a trip away from our minds every now and then, we need to sleep in order for our bodies and brains to repair themselves.
So, why do we need to dream?
There are many different theories on dreams, but most of them talk about how our brains sift through information while we are asleep, tidying up and deciding which items we need to throw away. Dreams can be our therapists, our outlets for creativity, or they can remind us of the most important memories. And these are only the dreams we experience during the nighttime.
Daydreaming is just as important
If we don’t allow ourselves space, we have no room to dream. If we are constantly focused on something, whether it’s at work, doing the chores, or just in constant conversation with others, we are inviting constant traffic through our brains and our own thoughts are never given the green light.
How often do you find your mind racing through everything all at once as soon as you’re in bed and your head hits the pillow? If you’re like most people, this probably happens to you quite often.
This is why mindfulness techniques (in this case, writing) can be such a positive aid for our sleep. In the same way that writing your thoughts down in a journal before bedtime can provide your thoughts with a place to visit, allowing yourself thirty minutes of deliberate mindfulness at a certain time throughout each day can achieve the same!
By acknowledging our thoughts and feelings, we are reminding ourselves of who we are and what we need.
We are also whispering to these thoughts, “Thank you for visiting. Now, feel free to spend your energy elsewhere until I choose to visit you again tomorrow – if I need to.” It makes us feel in control of our well-being, and that gives us peace of mind.
We always talk about how important it is to catch up with other people. We are often trying to make arrangements with others to do this. How about making sure you have the time to catch up with yourself?
Haiku about dreams: some examples of my own
Sleepwalking again - stairs are The Rocky Mountains, the bath, a canoe
The Lockdown nightmare - strangled by bedsheets, future goes up in feathers
I dream of tooth loss, in mourning for her laughter in the swallowed night
How to write your own haiku about dreams
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place
It might even help to write your haiku just before bed while your mind is in its drowsy limbo.
2. Write down three ideal dream destinations
If sleep is a departure lounge, where would you like to go in your dreams? What is your ideal place? Write down three destinations.
3. Take some deep breaths
How is the journey so far? Take a deep breath in through your mouth and then out through your nose. Do this three times.
4. Take everything in
It looks like you have arrived. What is the atmosphere here? Does it involve the calm or comforting sound of family while you rest?
Can you hear the sea while you are lounging on the sand, or can you hear children in the background? What is peaceful for you? Are you walking through the woods where there is birdsong? Let your imagination run away with itself.
5. Consider all your senses
Is it warm or cold here? What/who do you see? Can you smell food cooking? The sea air? Flowers? Are you sipping a cold or hot beverage? Acknowledge what it is about this daydream that you love so much.
6. Open your eyes
Now you have acknowledged all this, open your eyes and note down a few lines that hold the most impact for you. This is about comfort. What is it that makes you feel good about this image?
7. It’s time to write!
Now, using your notes, write your haiku about dreams.
Thank you for joining me this week
If there were some emotional moments during your exercise, don’t worry. It’s completely normal. Haiku isn’t about denial, it is about authenticity and truth. Mindfulness is about being able to calmly acknowledge these feelings and moments, but also accept them in their unchangeable nature.
Doesn’t it make you feel confident to know that you can create a moment like this whenever you choose to? All you must do is allow yourself the time.
I hope you enjoyed this chance to dream with me. Thank you for being such warm company on this haiku journey. I also hope you take some calm vibes from these posts. Next week, I will bring you another theme for your thoughts.
Remember, dreams aren’t just for while you lay sleeping. They are with you every day, just waiting to be woken up and coaxed into the real world. Next time, when they knock on your door, don’t turn them away because you are busy. Instead, invite them in for a while and restfully listen. Maybe they could form a new haiku!
They might tell you the stories that haven’t happened yet,
Now, haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about dreams in the comments section below each post.
See last week – Week Five: Haiku about Nature