As much as I believe in the power of meditation, sitting still, repeating mantras or listening to guided exercises just doesn’t work for me. Fortunately, there is no prescription or right way to meditate. What does work in my case, is a hybrid of sorts – a blending of my passion for photography with simple mindfulness exercises – to create a custom daily practice that feels right for me. If this kind of practice works for me, it may also work for you. So, no matter what kind of photographer you are, you can reframe your attention and cultivate zen when you are behind the lens.
As a garden photographer, my outdoor studio is naturally staged with endless prompts for practicing awareness. With camera in hand, I pay attention to my thoughts and the sensations within my body, as well as, to the details in the environment around me. This intentional focus on the present moment imparts a stillness in me – bringing about the peace and zen of meditation. If you are looking for a way to ease into a meditative lifestyle, try one of these simple practices (or incorporate them all) to help you be more mindful as you click the shutter.
- Choose deep over shallow breathing. This exercise is all about controlling your inhales and exhales. Long, exhales tend to be calming while long inhales are more energizing. Depending on your style of photography, you may be able to take a slow, deep breath from your belly before and after every shot to calm your mind.
- Focus on the movement of your body. Observe how you are moving. Are you walking, bending or reaching at a relaxed pace or hurriedly? Move your hands, feet and body with intention and awareness. Feel your feet connect with the earth or the floor where you are standing. If you are sitting or kneeling, feel what you are resting against and observe how your body feels in that position. Do you feel imbalanced (i.e. kneeling on one knee)? Do your muscles feel tight as you turn your head for a better shot? Listen to the sensations in your body – are they sending you a message that you would otherwise ignore due to lack of attention?
- Notice what time frame your mind is in. If you are thinking about something that happened in the past or may happen in the future (i.e. I may miss the shot), lovingly bring your attention back to the present moment. This is where the magic is.
Mindfulness can be incorporated into style of photography at any point in your creative process. Leave a comment below to share how incorporating mindfulness has enhanced your life and work.