I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer — and what trees and seasons smelled like — how people looked and walked and smelled even. The memory of odors is very rich.John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Thank you for visiting week 10 of Haiku for You, a 12-week interactive blog-series where I will help you write haiku to improve your daily well-being.
If you would like to know more about my series, take a look at my introductory post where I explain how it all began. There really is no perfect time or place for practicing mindfulness or writing! All you have to do is be willing to find 30 minutes for your own wellbeing.
Have you found it? If not, put down those dishes, finish the hoovering or take a break from that report you are working on.
Take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
Today, we are going to write about
Thoughts about Place
Do you have a location you like to return to again and again? Is there a place that makes you feel like the weight on your shoulders has been lifted and you can finally breathe? We can’t always pinpoint the reason, but certain locations just speak to us, especially when times get hard.
We all need to escape every now and then, and we all choose different destinations. The countryside is a go-to for many people who require some time and headspace, and rightly so, as there is much evidence to support how it positively impacts mental health. However, the place that is important to you does not have to be anything picturesque or sensational. What matters most is that it brings you comfort.
Why are we drawn to places?
If we begin to consider what it is about a particular place that makes us feel pleasure, there is probably an abundance of details we take for granted.
If you like the bustling city, what is it about the environment that makes you feel good? Is it the noise of crowds that gives you great company? Is it that you can lose yourself in the crowd and feel comfortably invisible for a while? Are you mesmerised by the delicious smell of restaurants and the excitement of people pouring in and out of high street shops?
You could ask yourself similar questions about all kinds of places, from the sensational countryside to the sweeping coastline, from a back room where piano music was played by the hands of a loved one, to the armchair where your grandmother always sat. It could be that your place is built upon years of memories and when you visit, you time-travel back to a perfect moment.
Place and the senses
We can use mindfulness to revisit our special places if we remember its unique sounds, images, scents and how it looks and feels to our bare hands or feet. These can allow us to access a wonderful memory, or a place we can’t currently attend in person.
If your chosen place is a beach, for example, can you smell the salty sea-weed in the breeze? Can you hear children splashing in the distance? Listen to the waves rising and then breaking, back and forth, back and forth. Isn’t it magical to let your worries drift away for a while?
You could be anywhere! Do you like to drive somewhere scenic on a rainy day to have a picnic in the car? Are you near a waterfall in the woods? Is there water cascading into a river beneath? Are you paddling your feet in a narrow stream? Can you smell tree bark or just-bloomed flowers in your favourite spot in the garden? Can you feel the blunt grass or warm patio beneath your bare feet? Can you hear the wind howling and the trees swaying? Do you taste blackberries as you pick them? Can you smell the earth after rain?
Or, is your favourite place home?
All that matters is that it is your place.
Haiku about place: some examples of my own
Daffodils spring up between footprints of children in the empty park.
Her remembrance bench - flowers laid by family; they die and they grow.
Four-wheeled companion - your battery comatose without adventure.
How to write your own haiku about place
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. If you cannot physically attend your favourite place, close your eyes and imagine it.
2. What do you see?
Write down a handful of shapes and colours.
3. What do you hear?
Are there outside or indoor sounds?
4. Does this place have a distinctive aroma?
Would you find this scent anywhere else?
5. Can you touch the surroundings?
How do they feel? Rough? Smooth? Soft and warm?
6. How does this make you feel?
Write down three positive emotions.
Now, using your notes, write your haiku about place.
Close your eyes and take another deep breath in …
and then back out …
Where did your haiku take you?
Places can carry as much emotional attachment as people. They hold our thoughts, our memories from childhood, relationships, or life’s many milestones. A place can be a healthy and comforting reminder of something that means a lot to us. The smell of a gorse bush can take us back years, and a certain shape of a hill in the distance can make us feel as though we are approaching home.
I hope these thoughts inspire you to keep your place alive and well.
Once again, thank you for joining me in this mindfulness session. I look forward to finding out where your haiku will take me! Next week, I will bring the penultimate Haiku for You theme and writing prompt. I hope you are looking forward to it. I know I am!
Isn’t it interesting where our minds can drift when we cease to take control? It’s natural to detach from the world every now and then; sometimes to find our own thoughts and ideas, and sometimes, to forget about them. There is similar psychology behind taking a much-needed trip to a place where no one will recognise you and nothing is expected of you.
So, this time, take a haiku holiday. Pack away those worries and let your mind travel..
Now, haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about place in the comments section below each post.
See last week – Week 9: Haiku about Food