Being in the moment and noticing the small things helps us to focus on the ‘now’ and allows peaceful rest to enter into our mind, body and soul. It is impossible to be anxious about other things when you are truly focussed on the ‘now’.
This mindfulness attitude has been of significant value to me personally during the ongoing journey through the 2020/21 Corona Virus pandemic (endemic). As per the NHS mental health tips website, ‘Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental well-being.’
It’s simply about using your senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) to connect to the present moment to reveal your inner feelings by noticing the world around you and I have used this practice for many years to inform my writing by capturing precious moments in poetic form as the following (recycled) reflection shows.
I hope you find it useful.
Skimming the Surface
Whilst ambling round Peasholme Island in Scarborough recently, I came across a vast patch of daisies. I just couldn’t resist taking off my shoes and stepping onto the lawn of soft, white flowers. I scribbled a sentence or two in my notebook to describe the feeling. Later, I used this as an aide-memoire to stimulate my memory in order to communicate the experience through that most wonderful of emotional outlets; creative writing.
I’m walking barefoot
on a carpet of daisies
tickling at my toes.
Inspiration for writing is all around us. By simply being ‘in the moment’, in the here and the now, and taking notice of something to focus on and connect with through our senses, we can capture that moment in words, if we so chose, and create an image that can stimulate an emotional response in others. With this in mind, it is necessary to have a notebook and pen or pencil always to hand because writers never know when they will see, hear, touch, taste or smell that breathless moment.
For me, the initial inspiration gleaned from the single moment is the easy part. Every writer will know that one of the more difficult aspects of writing is to craft and edit the words into a final polished piece that’s fit for purpose – whatever that purpose is. It could be for your own pleasure that you write, or to share your words with close friends and family. Maybe you like to perform at public readings or within a writers’ group. You may want to create a book you can publish yourself – you could even be fortunate enough to have it accepted by a publisher, if that is your aim.
Anything is possible. Each writer makes his or her own choice for the final outcome of their writing. What begins as a single moment of observation can grow into something quite spectacular by the time it completes its journey. Yet, if the writer chooses, it can simply remain as it is – a single moment of time captured in a *haiku variant to keep as a treasured memory.
Observing a peacock opening its feathers…
Display of splendour:
A peacock spreads its plumage;
All eyes are on you.
Or surfing at South Bay, Scarborough…
Waves catch at our breath
as we ride the white horses;
like angels falling.
I like to collect and collate breath-taking moments and have created a keepsake book of haiku memories for myself and my family, that I continue to add to. Here are several special moments that have evoked an emotional response from me through stimulating my senses.
Wild tormented winds
scatter autumn leaves through streets
bereft of people.
Monday morning rain
and the birds are still singing:
scraping at the snow-flaked earth:
finding a new path.
A whole hazelnut
in a milk chocolate truffle;
a taste of heaven.
permeating fasting days;
feeding on hunger.
I sometimes expand a haiku to recycle it as a recollected memory as I did with the one below:
A red carnation
embedded within a rock;
abandoned by love.
Taken by Surprise
Sometimes, when I’m deep in thought and you speak to me sharp-tongued, I become trapped inside a memory, because your lips have pierced an emotion from my past. Then, when the mood slips back into the present moment, I can fall apart so easily.
This morning, for instance, we were walking along the beach, trailing through the debris that the tide had left behind, when I came across a red carnation that had embedded itself within a rock. The sight of it made me hunger for the time when our love was new, and I wondered how long it would take me to stop counting the cost of that love.
You snapped at me to ‘get a move on’, your hurried tone lashing at my face… and the sting of it is with me still.
It is interesting and exciting that, as writers, the pure joy of experiencing a breath-taking moment can inspire us to extend that moment’s existence through our words. You too may notice, in the ordinariness of your extra-ordinary life, the moments that take your breath away and you may be inspired to write about them. It’s like free-falling into a pool and not knowing how far your ripples are going to spread.
Crafting moments into a haiku is the perfect way to experiment with their impression on me as a writer, though I do not stick rigidly to the rules of the form when recording my thoughts, nor do I lay down a law that these thoughts should remain within that particular form of expression. Allowing this freedom tends to encourage spontaneity to my response.
I embrace opportunities to extend a haiku if the initial image branches out into new thoughts. I write these thoughts down, allowing them to flourish within my subconscious by putting the writing away for several days. This stretches the writing experience and enables its emotional potential to be utilised within a different form.
For example, the haiku regarding homelessness shown below, came together with the derivative form; a sort of expanded haiku, shown below it, to make a longer poem about regret which, later still, evolved as a ten minute sketch about hope. The sketch was performed at Oxfam’s ‘Walking the Breadline’ project at Scarborough Library in 2014, which was an unexpected and surprising outcome stemming from two single moments tucked away in my notebook.
The hermit crab crawls
inside someone else’s shell;
claiming its new home.
He could starve today.
will you toss your change into his bucket
or turn your face away.
A fitting tribute perhaps to the power of poetry in whatever form it may take.
With love for the journey,
* Haiku: a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world. For more information on variants of the haiku form (which incorporates this Inspiring Moments article) read ‘The Lost Haiku’ published in Plotting Shed by Bryn Stowe Publishing.
For more inspiration about being in the moment check out several members of the public’s breath-taking moments in my presentation ‘Creative Breathing in the Community’ here.
A good resource for continuing in this vein by noticing ‘small stones’ can be found here.
Mindfulness for good mental health can be found here.
Skimming the surface of life with poetic journaling