The Miracle of Today

4 06 2012

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle.  But I think the real miracle is not to walk on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle – Thich Nhat Hanh

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Did you notice the tree in every picture?   Slow down…

Another post in my Miksang and Contemplative Photography series.


Contemplative Photography 11

28 05 2012

Here is another post in my Miksang and Contemplative Photography series.

This post outlines the process that I follow when approaching Miksang.  I don’t have any official training but I outline here what I’ve learned as I go out and shoot with ‘a good eye, an open heart and an open mind’.

Try it for yourself.  It’s interesting (but not easy) to leave your inner critic behind and photograph whatever captures you, even when you’re not sure why.  That is easier said that done and I spend a lot of time ignoring the nagging, but still aware that it is there.

I carry my camera with me each day and I usually take a walk at lunchtime, mostly just to get me out of the office for a while. I don’t go out deciding to do a photo shoot, if it comes, it comes. I just walk, feel centred, wander and look. I enjoy walking meditation rather than being still. I clear out judgement and expectation and just see freshly and clearly. Think about your trip to work each morning. Whether it is a drive, a train trip or a walk to your home office, there are things you pass every day without even noticing them.

The practice of Miksang helps you notice all around you and see things, without judgement.  Most times, something will catch my eye, capture me, fascinate, surprise, delight or jar me. It demands a reaction, it stirs an emotion. I stop and often say “Whoa! Look at THAT”.  It attracts or repels me.  I get the feeling but I hold all judgement about whether it is a ‘good’ subject or a ‘bad’ subject, whether the light or angle or distance is ‘right’. For some reason, it has captured and connected with me, if not, I move along. Later I try to look deeply to see what it was that caught me.

Was it the shape? colour? texture? shadow? light? contrast? the grouping? the arrangement? the odd number? the symmetry or asymmetry? the negative or empty space? the angle? incongruity? context?

I don’t try to find a ‘better’ angle, I don’t zoom, I don’t crop, edit, straighten or do any post production. I shoot what I see. What you see is what I saw and what captured me. Hopefully the shot shows you things that capture my eye, my heart, my mind (when it is free from clutter and judgement).  So, that’s where I am on my journey into Miksang. I hope you give it a go as well.

If you’d like to find out more about Miksang and the art of Contemplative Photography, check out these links:

Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography
Miksang Society for Contemplative Photography

The Art of Wabi-sabi

7 05 2012

Relax.  Look.  Now what do you see?

I’m taking a break from my Miksang photos to remind you of (or introduce you to) the art of Wabi-sabi. You might find some similarities here.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that honours the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It is quite a contrast from the “Western” principles of beauty that often centre around perfection, flawlessness, symmetry and clarity. Wabi-sabi is not purely a japanese version of ‘modernist’ or ‘minimalist’ art, it is a visual and intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world. Indeed much of wabi-sabi beauty can be found in decay or decline which brings us to a melancholy contemplation on the seasons of life. Life is transient which makes it all the more precious. In that sense, wabi-sabi lets you find beauty in the ragged teddy bear and that soft and fraying jumper. You can let it be (or can you?). It is perfect in its imperfection.

There is a great introduction to the principles of wabi-sabi at The Hermitary, which outlines the categories of Type, Form, Texture, Beauty, Color, Simplicity, Space, Balance and Sobriety. Fellow blogger “Raw Earth Living” has an interesting post on wabi-sabi if you’d like some history.

For now, here are some of my wabi-sabi shots. See what they stir in you as you view them. Can you find beauty? Can you let them be? Do they jar you? unsettle you? intrigue you? inspire you? bore you? annoy you? Do you long to clean or fix them up?  Let your viewing tell you something. Enjoy.

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For more contemplative photography – check out my Page of Miksang posts.

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