Ooh, Shiny!

I very rarely set out to create a selfie. But if I look through my mindful photography practice photos there are dozens of examples when I appear. Why? I get excited with a bit of sunshine (I do live in Wet Wales) and the opportunities it provides.

There I am out paying attention to what I can see. Coming back to the visual every time I notice my mind has gone off on one. And then the sun comes out I see a shadow of myself and go, “Ooh, Shiny!”. The urge to create a selfie is irresistible. Most often, judging by my collection it is a shadow that excites me, but sometimes it’s a reflection or even the possibility of a silhouette. All I need is the sun and there it is. Ooh, Shiny! Here are a few of my favourites.

 

Why not teach just mindfulness?

My girlfriend asked me this question this morning, “Why not teach just mindfulness?” She meant why didn’t I teach just mindfulness as another offering alongside my Mindful Photography developments. After all, it’s less niche, there is a bigger market. It could be another income stream. My initial answer and thoughts that followed are worth sharing, so here goes.

Teaching Mindfulness

I do teach mindfulness. I just teach it though the medium of photography. I have more than a decade’s experience of meditation and mindfulness. I have studied and read many Buddhist books, regularly go on retreat, have read contemporary books on Mindfulness, including Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zinn. I have even done the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction).

I am a qualified teacher with more than 30 years experience of teaching, training and delivering learning. I have taught people from 7 to beyond 75, from all walks of life and many different subjects. Teaching mindfulness would be quite straight forward.

True, I do not have a Mindfulness teaching qualification. But I believe that I have everything that would be covered in those academic rubber stamps and more.

Suffering and creativity

I have lived through tremendous personal difficulty, change and loss. It is this that has been at the centre of my mindfulness development and growth. It is this that I can call on to empathise with others who are suffering, when they find that life is not how they would like it to be.

This experience has enabled me to more clearly understand how life really is. To notice how my mind constantly comments and judges, and then to feel my reaction, in my mind and body, to life being not how I want it to be.

But I have not developed my mindfulness practice in isolation. Alongside it I have developed a creative practice that has enabled me to explore and express the journey I find myself on. Mindfulness and a creative practice go hand in hand. Let me explain.

Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Let’s reflect back for a moment upon the Four Foundation of Mindfulness that were shared in the Sutra by the Buddha 2500 years ago. For it is this that is at the heart of the modern application of mindfulness for stress reduction (MBSR) and living with depression (MBCT).

My interpretation of those four foundations are that your mindfulness practice is to be aware of just four things.

  1. Your sensations and bodily feelings: The information you receive from your five senses and those other physical feelings, like breathing, pain or butterflies in your stomach, are the first things you can be aware of. Of course you can use the passage of breath through your body as an anchor when you meditate.
  2. Your thoughts: Your mind is leaping monkey, jumping from thought to thought, often seemingly unbidden and with no direction from yourself. It is perhaps the first thing that people comment upon when they start meditating. Often they may imagine that they cannot meditate because their mind is so busy. But I say, “That’s great! At least you noticed!”
  3. Your feelings: These are the feelings or emotions that are attached to a thought. They arise from a thought stream and are fuelled by your life experience, your habits and your personality. They arise and fall in much the same way as thoughts. Often seemingly unbidden, they are transient just like thoughts.
  4. Your living: I mean they way you live, your day to day, your routine. Your attention to each moment as if it was the only moment. Which of course it is! But because you are constantly thinking and feeling about the past and future you lose connection with this one moment.

I mention these Four Foundations because I know how a creative practice, in my case photography, can help to explore, process and express each one of these foundations. It is all in the potential of the art form to say something about how you find the world. Your creativity is a doorway to self understanding.

Teaching Mindful Photography

It is now nearly four years since I first thought of the term Mindful Photography. Whilst I may have thought it was an original term at the time,  I had no idea what it might be or develop into. Now I have a clear idea of the links between a mindful practice and and a creative one, between mindfulness and photography.

I know that mindfulness can be applied to the art of seeing the world. Seeing can become your anchor (First Foundation). When you notice your busy thoughts you return to the seeing. Having this as a practice support your ability to see more, to see what is in front of you and therefore to create an interesting photo.

I know that mindfulness can be applied to the science of creating a photo. Mindful photography practices can be developed that support your ability to be with your technical and compositional knowledge whilst your mind is wrapped up in photo thinking, to continue to develop those skills and whilst you remain with what you can see. (Second Foundation)

I know that photography can be used to understand and develop mindful attitudes; including non judging, patience, acceptance, trust, non striving, beginner’s mind, letting go/be, generosity and gratitude. There are photography practices I have developed that directly influence your understanding of each attitude and support your ability to develop that attitude. (Second and third Foundation)

I know that we can develop mindfulness through photography as you learn how to express, explore and process your feelings and emotions with a photograph. Learning how photography can express feelings provides you with a means by which to share how you feel without using words. (Third Foundation)

I know that you can explore your challenges and difficulties in life through photography. Investigating and exploring how fear and love manifest in your life, as life’s changes and losses pass through your world. This practice develops mindfulness. (Fourth Foundation)

I know that you can develop photography projects that explore how you are living, feeling and being and that through this process you can support your journey to be the best version of who you can be.

My Offering

This knowledge and understanding is what I now share at my workshops, courses and the online course I am developing (to be launched in the Autumn this year). I am not certain that it will support me financially yet, but I feel impelled to share what I know and to help you to use what I have discovered to develop a more mindful life through photography.

If this explanation has thrown up any questions for you please drop me a line and I will reply personally.

Happy creating

Teaching mindful photography

 

 

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The River

From the Elders of the Hopi Nation

To my fellow swimmers:

Here is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift there are those who will be afraid, who will try to hold on to the shore. They are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.

The River is a fine metaphor for this thing we call life. It has been used as such by many, to describe many of the stages and events through life. I’ve even used it to describe how meditation changes your life. The quote above I found in a fabulous book called Perseverance by Margaret Wheatley, which is a collection of ideas and thoughts that help you to remain present with how life is. The full poem is at the bottom of this post, but for now I’m gonna share a few thoughts upon this wet metaphor!

A Philosopher’s thoughts

Heraclitus (530 – 470 BC), the philosopher said that life is like a river. The peaks and troughs, pits and swirls, are all are part of the ride. Heraclitus, where he here to advise you might say, “Go with the flow. Enjoy the ride, as wild as it may be.”

Heraclitus observed that nature is in a state of constant flux. ‘Cold things grow hot, the hot cools, the wet dries, the parched moistens’. Everything is constantly shifting, changing, and becoming something other to what it was before.

Heraclitus concluded that nature is change. Like a river, nature flows ever onwards. Like a life, the river flows ever onward.

However, the metaphor is taken further. The trickle that is the source of every river is related to the beginning of life. From there the river picks up speed, soon becoming a torrent of energy and change. Maybe a slower phase, maybe a meandering phase, maybe even an almost still phase where the pace is so slow you can imagine that the change has stopped.

In the current of life

Of all of these metaphors it is the current of the river, and life, that interests me. For if we return to the quote at the beginning of my post, it is the idea that it is the current of life that will tear you away from clinging to the bank that most resonates.

The current of life is beyond our control. We believe that we have control of our lives; we exercise free will, make choices and follow our heart. And then life takes you away. The current becomes irresistible. Just when you thought you had it all taped down and huge swell of powerful current changes your course.

At that point you cling to the rocks, or to a floating branch. Maybe you attempt to swim to the riverbank, cling on for a while, before being torn away. But all you have to do is keep your head above water, swim a little to avoid the major obstacles if possible and feel where the current is taking you.

With your head above the waterline you can see the terrain. You can see where you are headed, feel the current taking you and notice how you are. You are alive, you are travelling forwards. You are breathing and change is taking you downstream.

Calmer water will be reached. You may even reach some shallows and be able to stop, take stock of how far you have travelled and notice how you are now. Eventually you will reach the sea, we all do. Whilst you are travelling that way, keep your head above the water, you eyes on the journey and breathe. You are alive.

From the Elders of the Hopi Nation

Oraibi, Arizona, June 8, 2000

To My Fellow Swimmers:

Here is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are
those who will be afraid, who will try to hold on to the shore. They are
being torn apart and will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the
shore, push off into the middle of the river and keep our heads above water.

And I say see who is there with you and celebrate. At this time in history,
we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment
that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word
struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
For we are the ones we have been waiting for.

 

 

 

 

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Chimping vs curating

Chimping

Chimping is the act of immediately looking at your camera screen after you have taken a shot. It’s called chimping because of the noise you make when you see a shot you like, “Ooo, ooo, ooo!” This behaviour is a natural consequence of our digital cameras and whilst there are one or two advantages to the habit, in the main I favour curating (pulling together a series of photos over a period of time) over chimping. Let me explain.

To chimp or not to chimp

There you are out with your camera creating photos. In the moment just after you take the photo you look at the screen. What thoughts do you have in that moment? Probably you make an instant judgement. Good or bad? Like or dislike? This judgement is inevitably linked to what you think you saw and your expectations.

What you think you saw is not as simple as you might imagine. Your eyes received sensory information; we call it light. This pattern of light was collected by receptors on your retina (like the sensor in a digital camera) and sent as an electrical signal to your brain. In fractions of a second this sensory information was interpreted by your mind, compared to memories of similar patterns of light and a label attached. This label is likely to be the name of the object or objects in your photo. If you’re thinking a bit more like a camera it might be the name of the shapes, patterns, line or texture that you see.

This habit of mind can get in the way of clear seeing as Claude Monet said,

“In order to see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at”

Your mind also has this clever tactic of zooming in, or focusing on, what is of interest. How many times have you taken a photo of an object in a scene only to look at the photo and realise that the object is much smaller in the frame than you expected. This may be because your mind focused in on the object. It might also be because you eye operates at a different focal length to the lens on your camera. There’s a lot going on and a lot to learn.

So you look at the photo you’ve just taken, make a judgement, and keep or discard. This discriminatory approach, judging our work against arbitrary values, is a paradox. It is helpful, for without a critical faculty we will not learn and develop. But this judging mind is a tight mind. What of experimentation, happy accidents, creative exploration? Sometimes one ‘bad’ photo might suggest a new approach. Sometimes what you judge to be a ‘bad’ photo one day, becomes something you love a few days later. This brings us to curating.

Curating

Curating is the practice of bringing together a group of photographs from a wider selection. It is a positive selective practice. One that could be approached in a mindful manner; conscious of each photo, and the thoughts and feelings that they generate.

You are choosing the photos you want in this set. Generally, this practice is something that is most effective if it is actioned some time after the photos were created. Why? This provides space for some of the emotional attachment we feel about our photos to soften. We may still experience feelings when we look at our work, but the distance we have allowed creates a space to be more aware of these feelings without judgement.

Curating provides time for our ideas to gestate. Learning, understanding and growth are all given space to flourish. Feelings and thoughts settle, like dirt in water, leaving clarity and clear vision.

The two photos in this post have been chosen deliberately to illustrate my point. Neither have ever been seen before. They are both part of a curated process for The Renaissance Photography Prize that I have entered most years for the since 2010. The top photo was not submitted, I don’t recall why. It was created using a Holga toy camera in medium format, using a double exposure, because it was quite dull. I love the blue shades of coldness.

The photo below was submitted in 2010, but in a colour version. I now see that its theme of unclear seeing is more effectively rendered in black and white.

(The Renaissance Photography Prize is a fabulous competition and cause. Now is a good time to take a look online.)

So why not turn off your LCD screen, or cover it with a piece of card? Remove the temptation and see how it changes how you create your photos. You will slow down, become more attuned to what you see and more present with your experience.

Other Perspectives on Chimping

10 Reasons why you should never chimp – a Street Photographer’s approach from Eric Kim, but relevant to all photography.

Getting the Chimp off your back from the Digital Photography School

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In my element

Today I decided to follow a Mindful Photography Practice in response to this week’s Word Press Photo Challenge Elemental. This weekly topic encouraged us to respond to the four key elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. I decided that this would be most appropriate for me at the beach, as I live only 15 minutes drive away from one of the top beaches in the UK – Three Cliffs, and I would be in my element. I love the beach!

Air

As I wandered camera in hand I stayed present with the visual panorama and noticed my mind nagging at the difficulty of photographing Air and Fire. My response was to let the thought pass and return to what I could see. Then I looked up. The first photo of this set seemed an appropriate response to Air. Not only was the invisible visible in its movement through the clouds, our own contribution to the element, in the form of pollution was clear.

mindful photography - air

Water and Earth

At the beach it seemed apposite to include the Water and Earth together in a photo. After all is it not this interaction, wave on sand, that we most love at the beach? My favourite photo on this theme included me, foot and shadow, paddling through the warmish shallows. Though there were a couple of others I was quite drawn to as well.

mindful photography - water and earthmindful photography - water and earth mindful photography - water and earth

Fire

Of Fire there was none. I entertained storming someone’s barbecue and getting down low and close to capture the burning coals, but that idea seemed too ridiculous. It was only when I finished and reviewed my photos that I realised that I had a symbolic representation for Fire in the blazing lichen. Which of course also responds to Earth too. You can almost see the fire bursting through the cracks in the earth, like at the edge of volcanic activity.

mindful photography - fire

Finally

At Three Cliffs it is almost always necessary to visit the passage between two areas of the beach. This sea worn arch presents a teardrop view of the beach and its base looks different each time you visit. The tide takes and deposits sand, changing the passage base throughout the seasons. It seemed an appropriate watery and earthy note on which to complete this set.

 

 

 

 

Blogging as a mindful practice

As a guy who tries to live a mindful life I recognise that practice is the foundation, backbone and rhythm of my intention. Practice is a word that is often used alongside meditation, in that what we experience is most accurately described as a meditation practice. This is helpful. A practice implies that it is something we are working on, that perfection is not an expectation and that any experience is possible during the practice.

Practice also suggests a commitment to regularity and a growing understanding that the journey is more important than the destination. It is the practice itself that is the thing. The trying to get somewhere – like be a brilliant meditator is a flawed goal. Mindfulness is all about intention, not goal. It’s not supposed to feel like a carousel, round and round, up and down but not going anywhere. More like you are the Starship Enterprise and your ongoing mission is to explore strange new lands (your emotional landscape) and to boldly go where you haven’t gone before! Check out this post to read more about Intention.

Mindful Practices

Over the last few years I have developed a daily mediation practice, a weekly mindful photography practice and a daily gratitude practice with my sister in Canada. Also over the course of the last two years I have come to see this process of blogging as a practice. Let me explain.

Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat Zinn as, “Paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” This is indeed a lifetime practice and one that we can return to any moment when we notice that we have become adrift on life’s turbulent swirling current.

We can apply mindfulness to any and every activity and action of life. Applying mindfulness to any activity turns it into a kind of meditation. This idea has been explored by many. There are books available on mindful walking, parenting, drawing, ageing, bereavement, baking, work, urban living, art and many more. Mindfulness is a media sensation.

I became aware that I was bringing this present moment attention to my writing in the late spring 2015 when I started sharing my life experiences and challenges through this blog. The practice of openly writing about one’s life experiences is nothing new of course. Diaries, autobiographies and memoirs have been a regular element of the book publishing industry for hundreds of years. The difference is personal.

Blogging about difficulty

For the first time in my life I started writing about my vulnerabilities and feelings. This was an instinctive reaction to life throwing unexpected curve balls at me. Instead of avoiding those feelings, or internalising, I chose to share. The reaction surprised me. I had contact and support from people I knew and those I had never met. But most interesting were the repercussions throughout my life.

These ripples, caused by the stone of honesty dropping into my pool of life, continue to be felt. It seems that the more I write about it, the more I am attuned to what is happening. The writing helps to process the difficulty, the feelings and the changes. The more attuned I am, the more able I am to be with whatever comes my way.

This also becomes a kind of deepening awareness. As I write I become present with my feelings about the difficult circumstances. I write freely and fast. Often the essence of the feelings is raw and unprocessed. Much of it comes instinctively and usually it is only edited to correct typos, grammar and spelling. The raw essence remains.

Writing these blog posts will continue to be a practice; one of reflection and authenticity. It feels like an essential aspect of my mindful life, so expect more soon!

 

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Weekly Mindful Photography Challenge – Simple

Every week throughout the summer I will be posting a photography challenge that is designed to bring you into the present moment. They can be completed with any camera, even your phone. Your favourite photos are posted to our Facebook group, which is a public group so that you can invite your friends to join in.

This week’s mindful photography challenge is ‘Simple’ and is an invitation to create one photograph that illustrates the theme. It could be a photo that uses simplicity as its compositional guide, or it could illustrate the standard definition ‘easy to understand’ either directly or using a metaphor/symbol. There that’s given you something to think about. Just keep it simple! My photo below takes the first approach and was created today in the park to illustrate this post. I only created two photos. One for this post and one for next week’s.

When you go out to practice imagine that you can only create one photo. Walk around your chosen location. Observe your surroundings. Wait until a photo opportunity grabs you. Look at what stopped you and why. Consider how you will frame it (what is in the frame and what is out?) Consider how your camera will see the scene. Then create one photo.

Share your favourite photo here.

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The Park – a mindful photography practice

Yesterday I spent an hour practicing being present in my local park, Singleton. I thought I would cultivate a beginner’s mind, perusing a familiar place, noticing what was there and attuning to the visual as if I were a camera; as if I did not know the name of things. Then you see what is there; the shapes, forms, colours, patterns, textures…. After that all there is to do is choose where to place the frame and decide upon the depth of field. Oh and maybe include a little bit of yourself, either literally or metaphorically!

If you are interested in how I actually set myself up for these practices, in ways that support the attention to the visual, whilst not being overwhelmed by the technical and compositional then these are the very things my online course (live in the Autumn 2017) will demonstrate.

Intention

Intention is the commitment to turn up for yourself. Your intention is what sets you on the mindful path to developing your self awareness to find more ease, freedom, and peace. Intention is the doorway to those other mindful attitudes: non judging, patience, beginner’s mind, acceptance, non striving, letting go, trust, gratitude and generosity.

Making mindfulness an intention is a beginning. Intentions are found in the present, so just by making one, you have already accomplished what you set out to do. An intention cannot fail, because it happens right now. With an intention, there is no required result—we are simply connecting to our chosen course. “I’m just going to practice, and see what happens.” Therefore we invite curiosity, a sense of experimentation: “Well, this is interesting, I wonder what’s going to happen now?” Intention has strength, as its rooted in reality, but also suppleness—holding to an intention doesn’t mean our actions can’t change, based on what we discover.

Ed Halliwell Mindful.org

Applied to photography

Once a week I try to set out with the intention of practicing mindful photography. I say ‘I try’ as sometimes events, weather or other plans get in the way. However, it is my intention to walk with my camera, to observe my surroundings and use what I can see as my anchor. That is, whenever I notice photo thinking, or future planning, or reviewing the past in my busy mind, I return to what I can see.

As I walk I continually return to visual, whilst at the same time just observing what I see. It is my intention to not look for a photo. I wait for a visual opportunity to find me.

There are two intentions here that are mirror images of meditation practice. Firstly the intention to practice. Just to turn up and be with the practice. Daily meditation trains the mind. Weekly mindful photography practice supports an intention to bring mindfulness to other activities in my life.

Secondly the intention to just be with what happens.  In meditation I sit and I am present with my breath. I practice noticing what my mind does. This is similar in intention and process to my mindful photography practice. I walk and I am with what happens. I notice my mind looking for photo opportunities and I come back to the whole vista. I notice my mind thinking about how to use a slow shutter speed to create an interesting photo and I come back to what I can see.

Then something catches my eye. I stop and I observe (whilst breathing) what it was. I consider what stopped me. I absorb the scene. Only then do I bring my camera to my eye and make a few choices before pressing the shutter. Then I return to my gentle observational walk.

The three photos accompanying this post are from a Mindful Photography Practice in Mumbles a couple of years ago. But I do like them!

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Meditation Tips

I recently picked up a book at our local library called ‘Waking Up – Searching for spirituality without religion’ by Sam Harris. What follows is a sharing of the author’s summary of meditation and some personal reflections. It is not a review of the book, which is a philosophical, scientific and atheist investigation into the cultivation of a spiritual life without religion.

The author, Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher who has published several bestselling books. He keeps a blog that shares irregular podcasts and has written articles for The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Newsweek.

I meditate to support my intention to live a mindful life. Practicing mindfulness in every aspect of life and truly being present with each moment is an undertaking not to be underestimated. That being truly present bit is the challenge: being attuned to what is arising on our consciousness. The greatest challenge we have to this intention is our thinking mind. Try a little test now. Close your eyes and try not to think of anything for 1 minute.

What happened? I would suggest that you started thinking (maybe about noticing your thinking!) almost immediately. If you focused on your breath and tried to follow it for a minute, did any thought arise? Did you notice?

As a regular meditator I am alert to the possibility of developing my practice. I believe that it is helpful to reflect upon how to meditate and I found the summary that Sam Harris shares on pages 39- 40 of Waking Up most useful.

How to Meditate

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine erect, either in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting – feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc
  3. Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most distinctly – either at your nostrils or in the rising and falling of your abdomen.
  4. Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (You don’t have to control the breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)
  5. Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the breath.
  6. As you focus on the process of breathing, you will also perceive sounds, bodily sensations or emotions. Simply observe these phenomena as they appear in consciousness and then return to the breath.
  7. The moment you notice that you have been lost in thought, observe the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath – or to any sounds or sensations arising in the next moment.
  8. Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness – sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, even thoughts themselves – as they arise, change and pass away.

What I found particularly helpful was the last two points. I would suggest that points 1 – 6 form a solid foundation for a meditation practice. Point 7 then suggests that we start to view the thought itself as an object of consciousness, something that has just arisen in our awareness, much as any external object (sound, sight etc) might. This naturally leads then to the instruction (point 8) to witness all objects of consciousness as they arise, change and fall away.

It is perhaps in this instruction where the practice deep and ongoing practice lies. Where, as we practice, we cultivate a mind that is full of the present moment and aware of our thoughts, habits and behaviours. Here is the ground.

My meditation

The most helpful aspect of my mediation I can share is that a regular routine is most supportive. It is my intention to meditate for 20 minutes every morning. When I am living a standard day this will usually be the very first thing that I do after waking up. Even where the day is more flexible I find that a morning routine is most supportive for the remainder of the day.

I am now four years into this daily practice, after a few years of being more sporadic, and I notice when I miss the odd day. It feels an essential element of my way of being and is particularly supportive times of great change. I roll out of bed, do 10 minutes of yoga (for my lower back) and then sit for 10 – 20 minutes.

I have noticed recently that this practice is starting to seep into my everyday life. As Jon Kabat Zinn suggests, ” Mindfulness applied to any activity turns it into a kind of meditation”. The more I meditate the more I become present with the one thing I am doing. It remains an ongoing practice, for I still loose my attention regularly and my mind goes wandering, but a daily meditation practice slowly accrues benefit.

5 Tips to develop a meditation habit

  1. Do it in the morning. No matter if you’re a morning person or not. Morning is when you have most control of your time. If you have a busy family then get up before them (just a little). If you struggle to get up put your place to meditate close to where you roll out of bed. Set your alarm and instead of snoozing roll out of bed and sit.
  2. Pick and amount of time you can commit to. Initially this can be 2 mins. Just get up and do it. Then, as it becomes a habit extend the time.
  3. Use an app to track your progress. Insight Timer and Headspace both support your practice and keep a record of your practice. This is great for motivation, especially if you like to receive badges/stars for achievement. Believe me it helps!
  4. Accept that you won’t get it right. There is no getting it right. You sit and you notice. This is the practice. If you notice that your mind is all over the place don’t berate yourself, congratulations are due! You noticed. Just sit, practice and notice.
  5. If you miss a morning session try doing it anywhere. At your desk. On the commute (as long as you’re not driving!). In a queue. Just close your eyes for a couple of minutes and breathe. Pay attention to your breath. Notice your feet on the floor and your rear on its seat. You are present.

 

 

Whatever your eye falls on

Whatever your eye falls on – for it will fall on what you love – will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent upon you to answer, because that is how the mind works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go.
― Mary Rose O’ReilleyThe Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd

As a photographer, and a mindful one to boot, this quote seems like excellent guidance with regard to photographic subjects and self enquiry. Note to self – When following a mindful photography practice, where the seeing is my anchor, I will notice what it is that I am drawn to. For in that space lies opportunity, discovery and self awareness.

The photos below are a selection from this morning’s practice. I note some familiar themes, of shadows, dazzling light and triangles, and wonder about the glimpse of the castle.

 

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Weekly Mindful Photography Challenge – Shape

Every week throughout the summer I will be posting a photography challenge that is designed to bring you into the present moment. They can be completed with any camera, even your phone. Your favourite photos are posted to our Facebook group, which is a public group so that you can invite your friends to join in.

This week’s mindful photography challenge is ‘Shape’ and is an invitation to create one photograph that illustrates the theme. It could be a photo of an actual 2 dimensional shape (as distinct from form which is 3 dimensional) or it could be a shape create by the elements in your photo. My photo below takes the latter approach and was created whilst following a Mindful Photography practice. I do have a bit of a thing for triangles in my work. How many can you see in this one?

When you go out to practice imagine that you can only create one photo. Walk around your chosen location. Observe your surroundings. Wait until a photo opportunity grabs you. Look at what stopped you and why. Consider how you will frame it (what is in the frame and what is out?) Consider how your camera will see the scene. Then create one photo.

Share your favourite photo here.