Haiku: Japanese Poetry To Release Emotions

Haiku: Japanese poetry to free the emotions

The Haiku is a short poem inspired by the emotions of the moment,  the amazement and the connection with nature. It is a Japanese tradition through which to explore the soul to promote healing, to find courage, resistance and prowess. Given its cathartic and liberating effect, it is a very useful psychological as well as literary tool.

It is said that the brain is like a museum in which infinite rooms with distorted images extend. Finding meaning in these images isn’t always easy. Sometimes, therefore, it is useful to resort to artistic techniques capable of capturing the meanings, restoring order in the midst of chaos and calm in the midst of noise.

This is precisely what is achieved thanks to the  Haiku, short poems consisting of 3 lines of 5, 7, 5 more (quantity of syllables) whose goal is to observe everything with the eyes of a child, transcending ordinariness to reach magic. and turn off the noise of obsessive and ruminative thoughts and thus enjoy the emotion of the present moment.

For many, it is like observing the world through a dewdrop  thanks to which they remain connected to a concrete moment to take on a different, more intense and much brighter perspective.

Haiku as a psychological tool

Robert Epstein is a renowned writer and psychologist at Harvard University. Thanks to books like “

The Sacred In Contemporary Haiku ”and many of his articles in which he defends the benefits of using Haiku during psychotherapy, we know, for example, that this type of writing is very useful in the treatment of addictions. As Epstein himself states, “a good Haiku does wonders for a tired soul”.           

Well, it is clear that we are not dealing with a treatment that in itself can promote complete recovery or recovery from an addiction or a depressive process. Rather, it is a precise and complementary tool that can foster connection with ourselves,  with which to find the forgotten space where hope resides, the path of resilience and that bamboo field in which an individual can be much stronger, beyond how flexible, to adversity.

On the other hand, the association of Haiku with the Zen world is common. We must point out, however, that this is a much older practice. Although it is true that Zen philosophy used Haiku to spread at a given moment, the latter is a much older and more distant form of poetry. For the Japanese culture, it has always been a channel of expression and emotional liberation with which, contemplating nature calmly, to find a means to give shape and vent to one’s sadness, one’s desires or one’s happiness.

It is also interesting to know that there are many experts who see Haiku as an exceptional way to practice the full attention typical of  Mindfulness. The person must open up, he must be receptive to that sensory world to capture the moment and become aware, in turn, of his own inner world. It is a fabulous tool for learning to slow down time, to relativize worries and to generate feelings of calm, peace and compassion.

How to write a Haiku

Matsuo Basho is the most famous poet of the Japanese Edo period and one of the best known people for the use of Haiku.  According to his words, a beautiful poem is able to capture the essence of the moment, of an instant of time spent with ourselves, our soul and our nature.

If we want to get started in this therapeutic art, the following indications will be of great use. It must be specified that their authentic usefulness comes with time and practice,  just when you stop thinking about the rules, the metrics and the structure in order to simply be able to free your mind.

  • Haiku has no rhymes in the title.
  • The ideal metric of haiku is 5 more in the first verse, 7 in the second and 5 in the third.
  • Verbs exceed, because there is no movement, but the idea of ​​capturing an immobile image, an emotion.
  • The verb “to be” must not, logically, be used.
  • The rule is simplicity.
  • Haiku is not a discursive or finished poem.
  • Haiku captures something that transcends the moment, but which, at the same time, can only be expressed in that moment.
  • Haiku usually include a “kigo”, which is a reference to nature, to the season in which you are.
  • A Haiku is personal, it belongs only to whoever writes it. We must not imitate, but use simple resources, easy images… A beautiful poem requires intimacy, conscience and emotional freedom.

To conclude, we want to remember that a Haiku is a stroke in time that comes from the heart of the writer. It is a channel, a sigh through which to express oneself. As a simple advice, we remind you that the most beautiful Haiku are those who jump to the third verse,  in which the first two act as a simple introduction, to leave the best sign in the last one.


Image courtesy of Don Hong Oai

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