Posts Tagged ‘mindful photography’

Blog: Northern Lights

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

aurora 2

I was lucky enough to visit Iceland this autumn, and even luckier to experience something I’d always wanted to – the northern lights. This is a collage of four images that sum up the experience for me.

The aurora had already started appearing over the city as we travelled down to catch the boat – groups of people were gathering and pointing at the sky, others were running through the streets with cameras and tripods.  The excitement was really building and finally we were on a small boat, literally feeling buoyant as it zipped us across Reykjavik harbour – out into the night to find the lights.

Then they appeared – a pale green arc formed over the boat in the shape of a rainbow, the engines stopped and we floated around silently watching as the arc of light expanded right overhead.  It’s hard to describe – but the top edge of the band of light started to move, swirling like sand does when a strong wind propels it across a beach. I noticed a feeling of childlike amazement as well as a connectedness with the people on the boat as we stared skyward.

The link to mindfulness for me, was something about the process we went through to see the aurora – planning, preparation, travelling, searching – all ‘doing’ or ‘striving’ activities, and the contrasting sense of just ‘being with’ an incredible experience.  I was keen to photograph the lights.. and I was just as keen to really experience them – to look through the lens and receive the images, rather than setting out to ‘capture’ or ‘take’ or strive for anything.

I feel grateful that rather than ending up with hundreds of pictures and little memory of what it actually felt like to see the northern lights – I can really remember the experience, the emotions, thoughts and physical sensations I had as I savoured just being there.

 

Thanks for reading, if you’d like to have a look at my website please click here:  http://www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk/

 

Blog – Snowfall

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Snowfall

I took myself for a walk recently, up into the Derbyshire hills. As I was climbing a fellside, some low cloud started to roll across the tops, like smoke. It started to snow, so I paused in a copse of young birch trees. Standing right below the snow cloud, I became aware of wanting to make the most of the next few moments – before the snow melted.

I enjoyed the feel of the snow as it landed on my skin, the look of it as it lay on the branches and tufts of grass, and the sound of it – I even heard it making a whispering noise as it fell onto dry bracken. I picked some up and watched it melt, change shape, and turn into water… and I noticed my disappointment as it did this.

I think part of the reason that snow holds a magical quality for me, is its transient nature – its impermanence. In mindfulness, the idea of impermanence is about accepting that nothing, including us, is fixed and that change is a part of life. A bit like the way each moment is transitory and like snow, melts and gives way to the next one.

I guess living more mindfully is about noticing moments before they melt into the river of our everyday lives.

Heather

www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk

Blog – Shadows and Light

Friday, December 19th, 2014

DSCN3992

Feeling a bit bored and having decided that there was nothing worth photographing, I was about to put my camera away – but before I gave up, I decided to do some mindful breathing.

When I opened my eyes I let my attention be drawn to where the light was coming into the room. Looking up, I noticed this window with the criss-cross of thick lead and the different textures of glass and leaves of trees, a little distorted behind them.

I hadn’t noticed the image before I took a few moments to be still and turn my attention towards my breathing. The focus on my breath seemed to make it easier for me to really see my surroundings.

Maybe looking inside helps us to look outside too.

www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk

Blog – Mindful Photography – Kan

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

IMG_0966The good news is – taking photographs mindfully means that there’s no such thing as a bad shot or subject matter.

If we look at our surroundings, seeing objects without forming any particular attachment to them and de-focus our gaze a little, then sometimes we can find beauty where we least expect it.

I took this photo one evening around dusk when I was walking along the seafront in Brighton.  Squinting and de-focussing my eyes a little, I noticed the blur of the car headlights and the way they contrasted with the dark blue sea behind.

When I was learning Tai Chi, I remember the instructor talking about a Japanese martial arts technique called ‘Kan’.  He explained that when facing an opponent in martial arts, it helps to adopt an unfocussed gaze when looking towards them – as if we were looking towards the sea in the distance.

Eli Landa from evolutionarypathways.com writes:

“When you zero-in, and focus intently on something, you narrow your perspective and your field of vision.  The mind stops and dwells on the object of concentration. This is when thinking begins….. look at your opponent as if gazing at a mountain far away in the distance… This allows for a much broader field of vision to prevail. It prevents the mind from becoming fixated and allows the full capacities of intuition and insight to come into play.”

So the next time I take my camera out, if I can keep my eyes and mind softly open – then hopefully I can let the big picture unfold.

www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk

Blog – Mindful Photography – Little Voice

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

TulipI took part in a mindful photography course recently, and this tulip had quite an effect on me!

The tutor, Jill Woodman asked the group which qualities we associated with mindfulness. Some favourites were: compassion, connectedness, balance and feeling grounded. She then asked us to take a photo which would represent or depict the quality we chose.

I struggled to choose because there are so many things I get from mindfulness, but after some reflection I started thinking about the way that the stillness of mindfulness practice can often allow me to hear my inner voice – which can get lost in the clutter of day-to-day life.

So, umbrellas (monsoon conditions ensued), phones and cameras at the ready – we went out to explore some nearby gardens with our chosen quality in mind.

I came across a patch of glossy, rain-spattered, dark purple tulips that really caught my eye – and this one in particular.

The little white stamen right in the middle of the flower seemed to sum up for me what my inner voice feels like – sometimes hidden, sometimes tiny and overlooked, but always central.

I felt really moved when I found this tulip and the tiny flower it held inside, because it reminded me to look a little deeper for my inner voice and to find some stillness where I can let it blossom.

If you’d like to visit my website, here’s a link:  www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk

Heather is one of our mindfulness facilitators, and has also written a previous mindful photography blog.

Blog – Mindful Photography – Symmetry

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Hi – I’m Heather and I’m delighted to have been invited by Mind in Salford to contribute a blog to their brand new website.  I’ve been teaching Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses here for the last 3 years.  I’ve learned so much and really enjoyed the courses and the fantastic people I’ve met along the way.  I’ve recently started a mindful photography blog, and it’s a real pleasure to be sharing it here.

reeds in water

Symmetry

I noticed this image on a recent walk by a mountain lake in Wales. I was drawn to the reflection of the reeds and the twisted shapes, textures and colours emerging from the water.

Only one problem – the broken reed to the right of the picture.

When I looked at the image on my computer I noticed how frustrated I felt about how it ruined the symmetry of the image. I tried cropping it, photoshopping it, all sorts of things to get rid of the annoying reed.

Feeling curious about my reaction, I looked up ‘symmetry’ on Wikipedia and it offers one possible meaning: ‘a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.’

I delved further into Google hoping to find a definition, and found that words associated with symmetry include: ‘regularity, evenness, uniformity, equilibrium, consistency, congruity, conformity, agreement, correspondence, orderliness, equality.’

Mindfulness encourages us to welcome and embrace the not so harmonious aspects of our lives as well as the harmonious ones, so that we can move towards psychological balance or equanimity (calmness). I guess this is different to the apparent perfection of symmetry – but it is about balance.

The idea is that the more experiences, body sensations, feelings and thoughts we can allow in, then the more diluted and less intense everything is. If I pour red food colouring into a bowl of water, it will become red. If I pour the same amount into a lake, it will make barely any difference. In other words – we can cope with so much more when we allow everything in, even the difficult stuff. Then, like the lake, we may feel some disturbance at the surface but deep below the surface we can find an accepting stillness.

So I’m learning to love this picture just as it is, enjoying the feel of it, the atmosphere, and most of all – the broken reed.

If you’d like to look at my website – here’s a link to take you there:

www.northernlightcounselling.co.uk