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

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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