Heightening our Awareness of Seeing
We are all getting outside more as the weather is warming. Some COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, so it is a beautiful time to pay attention to the beauty and changes happening around us as the seasons change!
Mindful photography is the practice of actively paying close attention when observing the world around us, really looking closely at the subject you are noticing and photographing, making sure to see and appreciate the details. I recently took the included photographs on a walk in my neighborhood and practiced paying careful attention to my environment. It's important to remember that even if we've taken the same walk multiple times, we can still see things differently each time or see something we've never noticed before!
Now that many of us have phones or tablets, photography has become more accessible. But remember that even if you don't have access to a camera to capture what you see, mindful observation without taking photos is still delightful and often therapeutic. It's also good for our health!
Photography Practice as Appreciation
We might stop to appreciate something beautiful, silly, or unique. The act of stopping to notice and appreciate something can help move us out of a low state of mind and increase gratitude. Paying attention to what is around us can help move us away from self-absorption toward focusing on relating to the world we live in; this is like the selfie's opposite!
As you're preparing to take a photo or looking at something to take a "mental photo," reflect on:
What are you appreciating?
What do you want to share?
Is there a story that you are trying to tell with the image?
Exercises to try:
Focus on color. Be patient, settle in, stay focused on color and not other aspects. Don't get stuck on only capturing colorful things-focus on the simple experience of color.
Focus on texture. When you see something, imagine that you are also touching it: rough pavement, smooth glass, coarse tree bark, soft cat fur. Try to fill the picture with the textured element.
Focus on shapes.
Focus on telling a story.
Enjoy the experience of mindfully seeing the world around you this spring!
─ Charis, Art Therapist