Mindfulness & Photography
Mindfulness for photography needn't be complex, learn just how easy it can be to do.

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Mindfulness

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the term “Mindfulness”, especially in regards of well-being. It’s mentioned in just about every type of media that you come across, so just how do you do it? It’s all about focusing on your breathing when you’re stressed, or imagining yourself being calm, right?

Let’s find out with a few definitions to help get the ball rolling.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Greater Good Science Centre

Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment – without interpretation or judgement.

Mayo Clinic
What is It?

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.

Sylvia Boorstein

Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike, but the whole of our experiencing.

White Wind Zen Community

So as can be seen in these definitions, at its simplest, Mindfulness has two major components to it:

1 – There is observation & genuine acceptance of what is observed, which leads to being genuinely engaged in the moment.

2 – There is the action of choosing not to react with judgement or expectation to this observation & experience of being present in the moment.

Sounds easy, hey? But it actually takes a lot of practice & commitment to consistently achieve this state of being. This is especially challenging in this day & age with so many expectations & burdens put upon us all by ourselves, those around us & our larger communities.

But, if you use a camera to practice photography, something magical happens when you stick that viewfinder up to your eye! The act of deep observation is intensified & simplified in a way that is similar to the effect experienced by horses that wear blinkers; where distractions are visually blocked from your field of view. This in turn allows you to enter a state of deep observation quickly & easily!

That ease & speed of access to a state of Mindfulness has been explored in academic studies, with them showing this effect as being true & possibly even more importantly, it’s been recognised as the easiest way to access a state of Mindfulness.

The Practice

The form of Mindful Photography I use & recommend is the simple two part process mentioned above. There are other forms of Mindfulness practice that have many parts to them, some exceeding ten formal steps of practice! That’s obviously way too complicated for the average person just starting out on a journey of exploring the world through Photographic Mindfulness.

In 2004 a paper was written by a consensus of Psychologists, in this they proposed using a simple & two-component model of Mindfulness.

That is what the method of Mindfulness I use is based upon, as it is the least complex, making it the easiest to learn & remember.

In the simplest way I can put this, the first step involves observing where you are & what is happening in this moment, the second step is where you are inquisitive about that but without any judgement. It is perfectly okay & normal for that cycle to repeat as you are drawn to different things to photograph.

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