Photographing mindfully attracts increasing attention

There are more and more pages or articles about photography on the internet which have a clear connection to mindfulness. It is not always an explicit connection but here on this page is mindfulness mentioned and  linked, digital photography school gives 4 tipps referencing mindfulness:

  • Be there
  • Chase the moments (jage die Momente, sei in der Szene)
  • Know what you feel (sei dir deiner Gefühle bewusst)
  • Use your other senses (nutze deine anderen Sinne)

I like this post especially because it addresses the perception of the own emotions “If the scene you are watching makes you angry, then be angry and capture angriness”. Many pictures i find on the internet could use more emotions!

There is also a new german blog writing about contemplative photography – i think this is an interesting concept!

It seems that i am not the only one making this connection. Please leave a comment below if you know of similar pages.

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What is mindfulness?

In our fast-moving digital age it is getting harder and harder to stay in contact with yourself and your environment. Often the daily schedule is so packed, that we do our stuff superficially and fly on auto-pilot all the time: ”What was i about to do? Oh yes…” or: ”…i should be more mindful. (sic!)”. To me mindfulness is also an attitude towards life. It’s not about getting a new person or about letting your mind wander. Quite the contrary, you simply try to implement a specific kind of mindfulness. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed ”Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” says, that those specific kinds are:

Kabat-Zinn worked as a medical doctor with late-stage cancer patients who suffered from severe pain, so severe that a conventional pain therapy did not help anymore. He did not accept that and was searching for other possibilities to help. So he advised his patients to meditate – with success! The meditating patients felt significantly better. Kabat-Zinn refined his approach, removed ideological requirements, put mindfulness into a scientific context and developed ”MBSR” that way. MBSR is a formal 8-week-training, that follows an orderly specified flow. There are so called “informal” practices in contrast to such formal excersises like meditating periodically. You try to integrate the 3 basic principles into your everyday-life with those informal practices. Therefor are simple excercises suitable, which are easily and most important regularly integrated into your everyday-life. You do not have to practice meditation daily at 05:30 AM or live like a monk, to feel the positive effects of mindfulness.

This way you can switch of the auto-pilot and make more of the moment. You control your daily routine yourself and will no more feel like a nutshell in the ocean of life. To notice the unique nature of the moment helps you coping with difficult life-situations – the more exactly i can grasp a situation, the easier it is to notice a possible solution.

Curious? Here you can find a short, easy to replicate, mindfulness excersise.

To me photography is strongly connected to mindfulness, that’s why i try to bring both together here on mymindfulmoves.de. This article here shows that i am not the first to try that.

 

M-Modus

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Raisin-practice

Rosinen Schwarz Weiss

To have a first-hand experience of mindfulness i suggest the raisin-practice.

For the practice you need:

  • 10 undisturbed minutes
  • three raisins (or something similar like pieces of an apple or gummi bears)
  • a seat
  • all 5 senses together

So retreat with your raisins and sit down relaxed. Leave room for all arising sensations, thoughts and emotions. Should your awareness wander away from the raisin – get it back kindly. Eat each raisin individually.

Touch and feel

You hold the raisin in your hand, close your eyes, touch and feel the raisin. Sense the raisin between your fingers and try to explain how it feels. Some words to come to mind could be: raw abrasive, dry, smooth, sticky, thin, firm, elastic.

Watch all perceptions that come to mind with curiousity.

Listen

Take the raisin to your ear and discover the sounds that it makes. Do you hear anything? Or maybe only when you move it? How would you describe those sounds? As crinkles, clicks or …? Are the sounds loud, dull, clear or …? Also listen with the other ear!

Smell

Sniff at the raisin and be aware of the notions going through your head. Do both nostrils have the same sensations or different? Does the intensity of the smell change? Possible adjectives: hot, sharp, sweet, greasy, rancid, musty, sour.

Vision

Open the eyes and discover the raisin visually from different angles and distances. How would you describe the raisin at the telephone in terms of colour, texture, shades, sheen? Take as much time as you need, imagine you had never seen a raisin before.

Taste

Lead the raisin to your lips and feel it with them, try to move it with your lips. Do your taste buds come to life? Take the raisin into your mouth slowly but for the moment don’t bite it! Examine the surface with your tongue, move it through your mouth e.g. along the palate. Stay open and curious for all sensations. Does the texture of the raisin change? Place it consciously on the molars – want to bite? Not yet! Plan to bite explicitly, chew it in slow-motion and record the rising senations (need to swallow?) and flavours. Chew until you feel the last noticeable bit, prepare to swallow and watch the process of swallowing. Do you feel the motion starting at throat the down to the stomach? Is the entire raisin gone or are there some remains in your mouth?

Repeat

Try to take as much time for the second raisin but without thinking about the procedure in detail.

Eat the third raisin in the same way as you would normally eat a raisin. Compare the sensations, thoughts and emotions with the former runs.

End

Stay seated calmly for a short time and watch the thoughts that arise.

Conclusion

The three basic principles of mindfulness are illustrated very well by the raisin practice.

Act intentionally

You intend to take some time to enjoy the raisin – not more and not less!

Connect to the Now! Here!

The raisin takes your entire attention, you are not distracted by the past nor focused on the future.

Try not to judge (hastily)

This is the hardest one for me. It is a substantial difference if the raisin tastes “good” or just “sour”. More about that in my article.

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Act! Now! Here!

Jetzt! Hier!

The only moment you can act effectively is Now!
Tho only place you can act effectively is Here!

As the proverb has ist:

Walk whensoever you walk.
See whensoever you see.
Hear whensoever you hear.
Feel the now here!

Unfortunately many have unlearnt that kind of acting, and only act “… in order to ….”. You walk – in order to get to work – and maybe overlook to sunrise. The human and his brain is not fit for mulitasking. You can think about your work during your walk, but your body (of which your brain is a part of) is mainly busy with walking. Your mind is not keeping on task, you are absent-minded!

How can you come back to Now! Here! ?

The biggest part is done as soon as you recognize your wandering mind. It’s the heart of every mindfulness-practice to notice the inattention! Be kind to yourself, thankfully welcome the possibility of adjustment and watch your body-sensations for a minute. Embrace the fact that it will hapen again try to stay friendly towards yourself and keep on going.

Try it with the raisin-practice.

Never be concerned about the future anymore?

Actcting Now! Here! does not mean that you should never again reflect the past or care about the future. You just have to decide one thing to do – no more multitasking. Engage your future plans Now! Here! intentionally and unbiased. Leave out anything else.

The other two basic principles of mindfulness are not to judge (hastily) and acting intentionally.

Have you made any experiences acting Now! Here!? I’m looking forward to your comment.

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Do not judge

Justitia - nicht Vorverurteilen“Do not judge” is one of the basic principles in acting mindfully and for me personally it is the one that is the hardest to implement. The example of the raisin-practice clarifies what i mean:
:

  • the raisin tastes good => is a judgement
  • the raisin tastes sweet => is a description

So what is the problem with judgement?

The judgement itself is not the problem, somehow you have to decide what you like to eat, what tastes good. Judgement becomes problematic, when it over before the sensation has reached your conscience and before the sensation has been evaluated. As long as you know in advance, before the sensation gets conscious, that the raisin tastes good (or bad), the real taste is irrelevant, the raisin becomes insignificant and the auto-pilot has assumed control again.

Do not pre-judge

From that angle “you shall not judge” is misleading, the actual meaning is “look out not to (pre-)judge hastily”. Being Now! Here” and acting intentionally is very helpful in this regard because in this way a buffer is created between sensation and judgement. The above image of Justitia depicts that meaning in a striking way.

What else is helpful??

In my experience the following attitudes make it easier to create that buffer between sensation and judgement:

  • staying curious
  • honest interest

Many things do not need to be judged – wether you find it great or usual that your neighbour drives a red ferrari, it won’t change your life significantly…

 

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Intentional

Ziel erreichen

Mindfulness is always intentional, not only are you Now! Here! und not only do you not judge (hastily) – you also act intentionally and you have a goal. One important goal is inherent in mindfulness: to recognize that you are not here anymore or that you are judging hastily. As soon as you recognize this – stay friendly towards yourself! Try not to be upset about that mistake but be thankful for having the opportunity to get back to mindfulness.

Sometimes the mindful-consciousness gets confused with reaching other, higher levels of awareness. It is just the opposite! You have the intention to do one thing consciously Now! Here! without judging. This may not be always successful especially not continously. To choose consciously what to eat is not the same as eating mindfully, you know what i mean after doing the raisin practice. I’m sure that your mind was wandering away from the raisin once during the practice. Do you remember the moment you recognized it? That is the most important moment of mindfulness: to recognize how your mind wanders away and to take it back to the here and now. With a littel more practice these “slips” will become rarer and this is how your mindfulness makes progress.

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Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a short mindfulness-practice, easy to learn and simple to apply in daily life. It takes around three minutes and, after practicing it at home a couple of times, you can do it in every situation to find back to mindfulness.

Sanduhr - Breathing SpaceThe exercise has three sections, symbolized by an hourglass very nicely:

  • gather awareness (broad)
  • hold attention in your center (tight)
  • expand attention (broad)
Bring the basic principles of mindfulness to your mind before you start the practice. Exercise deliberately  Now! Here! and try not to judge (hastily).

Part 1

  1. sit (or stand) upright
  2. close your eyes (if it’s more comfortable: except for a small gap)
  3. recognise your emotions, thoughts and the sensations of your body

Try not to judge but simply realise the sensations thoughts and emotions – even if they are unpleasant. This deactivates the “autopilot” and leads your attention to your entire body.

Part 2

  1. now “tighten” your attention to your breath
  2. feel how your breath is moving your stomach – your center
  3. try to hold your attention at your center for one minute

lead your thoughts explicitly to your breath if your thoughts should straggle: “I breathe in … I breathe out …”.

Part 3

  1. now slowly expand your attention to the entire body
  2. let your breath take a backseat and watch your sensations, emotions and thoughts
  3. open your eyes widely

You could be very relaxed after the exercise maybe even sleepy. That’s good but can be inappropriate for some situations (driving a car!). In this case it is helpful to stretch yourself – like getting out of bed. This way you keep your attention and you are “back to 100%”.

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