I was told some Buddhist monks would ask themselves, once a day:
Where have I been inspired today?
Where have I been challenged, or stretched, or grown today?
Where have I been surprised today?
Where have I been deeply touched or moved today?
And then write a Haiku about it.
This is a writing exercise to do just that. Here’s what you do.
Ask yourself each of those questions. Between each one, sit quietly and think about it for 10-30 seconds, reflect on your day, or week, or month. Once you have something that resonates, write your haiku.
The haiku must follow the form, 5, 7, 5. The haiku must have a nature metaphor. You can define what “nature” means for you, just pick a definition that feels true, not one that’s the most clever or gives you the most flexibility.
Do this as often as you can, but consistently (once a week, every three days, etc). Work towards doing it once a day. Keep doing it for a year. Don’t wait for a special date to memorialize. Just start and make today’s date special.
Here’s my experience of it.
I’ve been doing it for almost two months now. I plan to continue for a year. I was tempted to wait for some special date, but instead I just started, and now my start date has become special.
At the end of the day, before sleep has been best. I can easily reflect on the past waking hours. I go over the questions as many times as I need to. But I sit with each one for a few moments and feel for that moment, if there was one. If I can’t think of a moment for any question, I’ll go over them again and again, each time expanding my definition and lessening my standards.
I don’t let myself off the hook for a lack of an idea. If nothing comes and I’m exasperated, I’ll just think of a nature phenomena that comes to mind and start writing about that. It could be an animal, an image like a feather, or a feeling of an environment or weather. I start with a more observational and impersonal haiku. Which usually brings something deeper out.
I thought daily would be a good challenge. I could easily set aside the 15 minutes or so I might need. It was harder than expected, and I missed many days. But I still wrote haiku for my missed days. To do that, I start with today and work backwards. Memory seems more easily unwrapped that way. (At least for me.) Before too long, I was doing it daily. When I did forget, there’s that moment in bed where I’ve gotten comfortable and I remember. I get up and go do it.
If this sounds interesting, give it a shot.