“In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness.”

—William James, from the Varieties of Religious Experience

Back in 2016 or so, I was teaching yoga and facilitating a mystical book club series at {be}Yoga on 4th Street above The Diving Elk. Our journeys took us around the world, from Sufi poetry and Christian Gospels, to Hindu scriptures and Chippewa tales. We shared stories and sacred space. We were a group of seekers and searchers, explorers in pursuit of big questions like, who am I? Why am I here? What is my heartfelt mission? How can I live out my intentions with passion and purpose

It was a multi-month exploration of the divine through texts that placed us right in the middle of humankind’s conversation about how to live and be well. Our sacred text tour guides to the infinite were The Bhagavad Gita, Jack Kerouac’s Scripture of the Golden Eternity and The Dharma Bums, Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain, the Upanishads, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the poetry of Rumi. We read passages to one another, sipped wine, sampled delicacies, and pondered and pontified on the known and unknown, the real and unreal, the tangible and the elusive. It was magical, this room full of starry-eyed mystics figuring out life one breath and discourse at a time. 

Ineffability. Rapture. Spiritual Marriage. Gnosis. 

Amidst the variety of all these mystics and their experiences of union with God, there were, of course, many truths we stumbled upon, but one kept coming back again and again, a lesson that forever needs (re)learning—all we have is now. To remember this and to practice living it, we all gave ourselves the assignment of crafting daily haikus to capture a mystical moment within our days. In the beginning, the group was steadfast with daily posts to our private Facebook group. Over time, most of the fervor faded for others, but for me, once I turned on the 17-syllable faucet and tapped into the form, I was hooked. I ran with it. I wrote one every day and posted for the length of the book club. And then in my own kind of Forrest Gump moment, I decided that there was no reason to stop, so I just kept going after we read our last book and parted ways. 

When I reached 365 days with this practice, I had a similar kind of moment and feeling, so I just kept going. What started as something novel and fun at first, in short order became a habit, both holy and divine. Some days I wrote many haikus, but on most days only the assigned one. Looking back and reflecting, I’m perking up now as I think about the experience. As I’d finish 17 syllables each day, I’d spend the rest of it thinking about the next 17 syllables, which would inevitably be interrupted by some world event or funny thing one of my kids said. Over time, I leaned more to the spirit than the letter of the law, and I didn’t always stick to the form or the syllabic count, but since there were no rules and no audience, I just kept on writing. 

Sometimes, you just have to go. 

By the time I got to 730 straight days (two years), I had a book. Then, the following year, I whittled things down to 108 haikus and published THIS IS IT shortly thereafter in 2019, from 17 syllables to one of my dreams coming true: 17 syllables, 17 distinct subtle scents and sounds. There’s so much you can do when you have so little. Feeling. Emotion. Memory. Meaning. It’s all present in the present.

So here are 17 of my 17s. I would love to hear yours. Send us your 17 syllables on love and life, feeling it, finding it, breathing it, believing it, and being it to the core. Reach out at or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram at Lumin Therapy to post your hopes and dreams, your 17s. Or let us know your favorite mystical authors and texts and let’s get another group together to share the dream again.

Each moment a choice

to breathe or not to be

wait, what was the question?

I empty myself

The universe fills me up 

I’m a child again

Sunflowers billow,

wind blows pesticide pollen

devastation smiles

The moment now comes

that never actually left—

I am the witness.

Love song for Basho:

the frog finds the pond within

rippling in the wind

I learn forgiveness 

is a dish best served warm

with thyme and pepper.

Today is my last

with this body I was born:

joints mourn what is lost.

“To live is to fly”

time is how you live your life

the fish are jumping.

“Dildo,” Nolan says,

“should be our team name, I think.”

What are schools teaching?

“What we need is here,”

Wendell Berry reminds me.

Heaven is earthbound

I remind myself

the wind is God’s poetry

blowing around Earth.

The body’s a field

we plant and grow children on

so handle with care

My soul om’s for you

like the monarch the milkweed

the petal blossoms

Searching for an illuminated soul

I find some silence

and discover one

My soul’s a kaleidoscopic canvas 

of I and love

and you

Hi, my name is Ryan.

Hi Ryan.

I can’t even write it.

The only word

I care to know

is you

Write a haiku. Bathe in a forest glow. Reimagine yourself underneath a Lucia Light. Meditate. Follow your bliss. Whatever you do, do it now. Tomorrow isn’t promised. The only time is now. Join us.

By Ryan Allen & Meghan Nelson

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