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Zen Poetry for World Poetry Day 2024

To mark World Poetry Day 2024, our client Brendan shares the first part in his series of ‘Zendoings’ – haikus that chart the ups and downs of healing from traumatic experiences.

My name is Brendan and I have had PTSD since September 2020 when a lot of my childhood trauma emerged after being abused in the workplace. A couple months after I had ‘tipped over’ and whilst being homeless and jobless I found solace in writing Zen Buddhist poems known as Haikus. I found that doing this helped to reduce my symptoms, especially the intrusive thoughts. I also have tinnitus which I have come to realise derives from the way my brain tries to deal with the thoughts. Writing the poems does sometimes help with those symptoms too.

A Haiku is a short stanza with three lines. The first and third lines have five syllables, and the second line has seven syllables. It is thought that the rhythm of five syllables is designed to enable you to tune into the mind or brain and seven syllables to enable you to tune into the heart. It also contains what is known as a kireji, or “cutting word”; and a kigo or seasonal reference.

I often found whilst writing this poetry that I could find spaces between thoughts that would be a powerful tool to give me relief from the symptoms. Within this blog my poems are both in written and spoken form for easy accessibility and I hope you enjoy them and that engaging with them may help to support your recovery too!

 Zendoings Haikus
Part 1: The Beginning Of Recovery
Autumn/Winter 2020

Fields Of Pain

The stern blade of grass
Cuts my skin when I stroke it
Like a touch from him

Autumn Insomnia

The night brings the rain
With memories of the pain
Tears reflected at dawn

Trees Stripped Bare

The leaves make me slip
My attention loses its grip
In the midst of fallen life

Clearer Forecast

When the thick fog lifts 
Thoughts begin to move and shift
Through the sun’s new rays of light

Seasons Fleeting (Thoughts)

They flow deep in streams
Slipping cold over rocks and stones
That one resists to cross

Stay tuned for the next part of Brendan’s Zendoings series, coming soon.

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