Sound is the vocabulary of nature.Pierre Schaeffer, An interview with Pierre Schaeffer
To any newbies, hello and welcome to the journey! For a summary of what Haiku for You is all about, head over to the introductory post, which explains what the full twelve weeks on this blog are going to look like.
Have you found a convenient location where you can sit, gather your thoughts and listen to the world around you? For this session, don’t worry, silence is not essential, but to make sure your exercise is not interrupted, perhaps let others know that you are taking a little time for yourself.
In a world of increasing sound pollution, depending on where you live, silence can often be difficult to attain. Instead of avoiding it, we are going to strive towards finding our inner quietness. This is one of the most important elements of mindfulness, and funnily enough, a feeling that haiku can guide us closer to.
Are you ready?
Take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
Now, we will open our ears to something that constantly surrounds us in our everyday lives:
Thoughts about sound
Did you know that sounds can cause stress, anxiety and depression by overstimulating our senses without us even realising it? Have you ever found yourself feeling irritable or exhausted after being in a city buzzing with people, or the clatter of market stalls? Or, even just the hum of a motorway or car radio in the distance? Have you been working in a bustling office when out of the blue, people stop talking and you could hear a pin drop?
It’s interesting how alien and sometimes, unsettling, silence can feel to us. The amount of thought and energy we pay to our surroundings can unknowingly affect our well-being. This is why it is important we find a way to control how we absorb our own world. Haiku can help.
Haiku is all about being true to nature.
Think of the sounds you hear in everyday life: traffic, birds, dogs barking, neighbours shouting, bees, lawn mowers, drills, babies crying, doors opening and closing, car horns, keyboards typing, phones ringing, the music you listen to on repeat. These work together to create your atmosphere.
What can you hear right now?
Are you in the garden, where you can hear the birds chirping, or children playing? Are you in the kitchen, where you can hear a kettle boiling, or a washing machine spinning? Are you in a study, where the buzz of electronic devices such as a computer surrounds you? It is easy to categorise sounds as either good or bad, but the key to mindfulness is not to use energy to ignore them, but identify them, and then think of them as just sounds…
Just sounds … See? They are not as threatening as they seem.
Embracing something as simple as a sound can allow us to appreciate our existence within the present and accept that we can’t control everything. This act of conscious resistance can allow us to surrender to a losing battle for a few minutes – and it feels good to lose. Consider how exhausting it is, even to compete with a television during a group conversation. Surrendering sometimes means we may feel less emotionally exhausted. It also means we can prioritise our energy for the things we enjoy.
There is a comfortable kind of pacifism and control involved in mindfulness, as we acknowledge, embrace, and then put aside.
This is a useful tool whenever you aren’t physically able to escape noise. For example, if you are using public transport, or in a department store, you can take part in mindfulness and nobody will even know. It’s an invisible but powerful act.
Haiku about sound: examples of my own
Wooded tree tunnel -
a canopy of quiet,
Children in Lockdown -
lollipops looking for clouds,
beckoning the bees
Each Thursday at eight upon the dormant doorsteps, clapping with raw hands
Now it’s your turn…Haiku about sound is your prompt. Whether you are indoors or outdoors, there is a sound calling out to you. Listen out for those haiku!
How to write your own haiku about sound
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings. What can you hear? Listen long enough to discover at least three different sounds.
2. Now that you have spotted your sounds, listen to how they sound. Are they sad? Are they happy? Do they have their own rhythm?
3. List some of these sounds. Don’t worry, they can be as ordinary as you like. One could even be the sound of your own breath.
4. Close your eyes and picture what comes to mind with these particular sounds. Go with instinct. Don’t overthink it.
5. What is it about these sounds that makes you feel comfortable? 5. Come back to the present moment, holding on to the comforting details that matter most.
Just remember, it’s three lines of 5-7-5 syllables! Refer back to How to write Haiku guidelines.
Once you have found the words for the above, say your haiku out loud. Listen to your three lines and think of it as your evidence of the world you are creating for yourself on a daily basis.
How does your world sound to you?
We easily absorb our environments, so it’s vital that we carefully consider what we invite into our minds and emotions. Well done for exploring sound in depth with me, and most importantly, returning to the safe surface where you are in control!
I look forward to seeing you next Monday for Week Three, which will bring you a new and exciting theme! For now, consider how nature is creating its cacophony of sounds just for you, but it is up to you to maintain their harmony. Keep tuning in, but also remember how to tune out.
Now, let’s haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about sound in the comments section below this post.