tiny seeds of intention

Stay at Home Order … day 7 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

2020

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.

Some met their shadows.

And the people began think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and at the people joined together once again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. ~Kitty O’Meara.

Nikon D750 f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO

Towards the end of a meditative walk around the park, I paused at the edge of a catchment pond. The morning sun brought clarity to the stilled water, sharp contrasting lights and shadows painted the reflection of three young, barren trees — a blue cloudless sky. The stillness was interrupted by silent surface ripples that created zigzagged branches upon the shimmering surface. Then…a deep low rumble of an approaching train with its horn bursting with pleas for all in its path to pause joined by the honking of geese. I waited with breath abated, “would their flight path be reflected on the water.” Yes! An amazing composition! Three small trees and three geese in flight reflected on an image of space and time.

Suddenly it all became fragments of canvas torn apart, “I should have brought my camera!” Forgetting that this morning walk was undertaken with the intention to simply return to the present – a quick glance at the watch, “I’ll be back tomorrow…8 a.m.!”

A beautiful moment. A silent exchange. A greeting from mother nature’s paintbrush to a quieting presence — disconnected by: regret about an earlier decision, craving for what had been, and a temporary ignorance of impermanence.

I now find myself contemplating how my thoughts/words thrown into this series of unsettling moments have the potential to quiet reflecting states of mind, feelings, actions or to create a turmoil of inner states that create distorted waves of mind, thoughts, and behavior.

Words, like stones, thrown into a pond have the potential to bring about gentle ripples or explosive columns of water. Is there a fear of what lies hidden…or is there a challenge to that hidden in the shadows to emerge so that I can see this monster? Do the stones thrown at this monster have a purpose…to blame, judge, distract from a growing sense of uncertainty or a calling out to be saved…a silent belief/wish of unity, a coming together of collective skills, a global sharing of words that comfort and heal?

I ponder how in my powerlessness, I am able to connect with self/others with an initial contact as I did with the pond or reflect first with a simple question, “will these words/actions that sit at the edge of expression ease disruption or increase explosive states of being?

The culminating power within tiny seeds of intention…

I am…

Breathing in 

My body is the earth’s

Ocean sand….absorbing

Breathing out

My body is the ocean’s

Continual waves…reoccurring

Breathing in

My breath is the wind’s

Whispered currents…sustaining  

Breathing out

Wind is my breath’s

Invisible streams…meandering

Breathing in

My eyes are the sky’s

Roaming clouds…transforming

Breathing out

Rain is my eye’s

Tear drops…returning

Breathing in

My being is water’s

Impermanence…renewing

Breathing out

I am life’s

Consciousness…awakening.

a photo study: developing your personal style – meditation

This week’s a photo study continues with Ted Forbes’ Master Class series, Developing your own Creative Style.  Last week’s blog reviewed and invited us to open ourselves to visualization by remaining in a selected location, without a camera.  Within the second episode, he defines meditation and then offers two exercises designed to increase our awareness of mediation within the creative process.

In the world of photography, mindfulness has been described as “meditative” or “contemplative” photography.

While out on a photo walk, my eyes scan the environment, searching for that something (shape, patterns, color, light/shadow, story) that draws my attention or for the perfect background scene.  As I move through my environment, my mind begins thinking about a photo article I read earlier or an image created by one of my favorite photographers.  I then consider the various camera settings and variations that may help me recreate an image or avoid repeating a past mistake.  For a moment or two, I ponder about what kind of image would be a great accompaniment with a particular haiku.  I begin composing and designing my next post which then invites me to slip into a fantasy about recognition and praise and then silence an inner smile as unease creeps in with, “Most likely your pictures will not be good enough” 

All of this invites me to question, “Am I really on a photo walk or am I engaged in a private screening of movies of my own making?”   This mindlessness chatter of thoughts, expectations, and desires are like dense clouds that prevent me from really being present with and seeing the world around me.  To see requires a meditative mind.

For some people meditation is shrouded in esoteric mystery.  Others understand it through images of a person sitting in the lotus position with eyes half-closed.  Others associate it with holiness and spirituality.  In its most general sense it is deciding exactly how to focus the mind for a period of time and then doing just that.

In theory, focusing the mind upon an object sounds very easy, but practice acquaints us with a mind that seems to have a will of its own as it drifts from one thought, image, conversation, or memory to other remembrances, conversations, concepts, and thoughts.  This internal stream goes on and on like a personal conversation with oneself or a perpetual story upon a movie screen…

…at the point when one realizes that the mind has traveled here and there, one is simply to note this to oneself and with acceptance gently return again to the meditative object…cited: A Meditative Journey, b c koeford

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Even though they may not specifically use the word “mindfulness,” many of the great masters talk about photography as awareness of the present moment in which we forget ourselves. We let go of the goals, desires, expectations, techniques, and anxieties that make up who we in order to more fully immerse ourselves into the experience of seeing. We open up our receptive awareness to what the world offers us…. We’re not looking for anything in particular. We’re not going anywhere in particular. We’re not expecting or trying to control anything in particular. Instead, we’re wandering, perhaps rather aimlessly, without a goal or purpose. We’re fully and naively open to the possibility of the unexpected, the unique, the moment when things come together… to the flow of life. Under these conditions, when we let go of the self, “it” appears to us. We don’t find and take the picture. The photograph finds us. It takes itself. We unite with the scene not so we can see a shot we want, but rather what the scene offers. The experience comes to us and the photograph is simply the icing on the cake. cited: http://truecenterpublishing.com/photopsy/mindfulness.htm

In photography, mindfulness is like observing something for the first time, even though you may have looked at it a thousand times before.

With an understanding of the importance of returning, again an again, our concentration to the moment, Ted Forbes invites us to

1.   Spend 30 minutes to an hour creating a still life.  

      • Use an ordinary everyday item
      • focus on that one object
      • exhaust all the possibilities
      • when you become aware that you mind has begun to wander then—with acceptance—just return to this still life project
      • ask yourself what am I not doing, what if I introduce motion? what would be different if I would do….? what would this look like  in different location—outdoors, on the floor, different table?
      • if it seems as though all possible angles, ideas, etc., have been exhausted, remain focused on the exercise for the rest of the time by jotting down thoughts and engaging in visualization. 

2.  Spend 30 minutes to an hour with a building or an outdoor space. — If you have chose a building that is in a public space and not a building that may arouse anxiety, a government building.

      • sit and explore ways to photograph.
      • just remember to keep returning to the exercise when you mind begins to wander.
      • exhaust all possibilities
      • use your journal to write down your ideas, frustrations, future projects.

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If you are interested in meditation within the street photography genre, I invite you to visit Keep the Focus website.  The Keep the Focus is a project initiated by German Street Photographer Thomas Ludwig who wants to bring the benefits of meditation techniques into street photography.  On the site he offers a free ebook. A Meditation Guide for Street Photographers

I enjoy reading your comments and viewing your creative work.  Thank you for sharing. Let’s tag with #aphotostudy.

early morning readings

contemplative photography 5
Sony RX100 III  f/4  1/80s  23.9m  250 ISO

“This LeWitt drawing [All Two-Part Combinations of Arcs from Corners and Sides, Wall, Drawing #842, white crayons, black pencil, grid, 14×18 ft.], white lines on a large black field, created a strong presence in the gallery. That presence was beautifully offset by the simplicity of the system it described. Until that show, I believed that conceptual art was about the idea-the concept–and thus that the drawing on the wall was only there to display the idea. I believed this until one day during the show, when I found myself alone in the gallery in front of the wall and my vision was filled with black paint and the pebbly, waxy marks of the white crayon. At that moment the piece seemed to open a door in my mind. Rather than the concept being processed like art in my brain, I felt a sense of integration–my eyes and body were involved, a union between the concept and the materials, neither standing alone. My view transitioned from an analytical appreciation of a system called ‘art’ into an utter, complete presence with an artwork…” ~J F Simon, Jr., Drawing Your Own Path

“Observe the changes that take place in your mind under the light of awareness. Even your breathing has changed and become ‘not-two’ (I don’t want to say ‘one’) with your observing self. This is also true of your thoughts and feelings, which, together with their effects, are suddenly transformed. When you do not try to judge or suppress them, they become intertwined with the observing mind.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

a flower is not a flower

100dayspoppy

Aryeah Kaplan wrote that when one is in a meditative state, one has obtained the ability to turn off faint after-images that are constantly with us and interfere with seeing objects with total clarity. He noted that when one is able “to turn off the spontaneous self-generated images . . . the beauty of the flower . . . seen in these higher states of awareness is indescribable [and] appears to radiate beauty.

~Aryeah, Kaplan, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide, p.9

wordless wed

A flower is not a flower.  It is made only of non-flower elements–sunshine, clouds, time, space, earth, minerals, gardeners, and so on. A true flower contains the whole universe. If we return any one of these non-flower elements to its source, there will be no flower. That is why we can say, “A rose is not a rose. That is why it is an authentic rose.” We have to remove our concept of rose if we want to touch the real rose.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, p. 129

 

deconstruction2

…when we hold a rose we see that it is composed of multiple elements, some tangible – leaves, stem, thorns, petals, stamens – and others intangible – scent, color, memories. If you were to remove any of these constituent parts, would you find an entity know as “rose”? As we are unable to find the rose in the absence of any one of these parts, we are also unable to find an enduring solid rose in any one of these elements.

~B Catherine Koeford, A Meditative Journey with Saldage, pp152-153

weekly photo challenge: object

weeklyphotochallengeobject

Insight is awareness and oneness, the openness itself, without concepts or a separation between a ‘self’ and the object being experienced…at first, our minds can seem like such a ragged and disorderly place, disturbed by the slightest sound, thought or impulse.  Seeing the moving, restless character of the mind is the first step toward concentration…Concentration on an object without any wavering is the training of tranquillity…Again and again, gently but firmly bring your awareness to…without being rigid or aggressive, we should come back to…*

To view additional images submitted for this week’s photo challenge: object visit The Daily Post @ WordPress.com

 *cited source:  unknown

weekly photo challenge: resolved

Share a picture which means RESOLVED to you!

intention
intention

Standing at the Threshold

With uncertainty, I question:

What is it that I seek?

Protection? Compassion? Acceptance? Forgiveness? Completion?

Who is it that I beckon?

A father? A mother? A sister? A brother? A companion? A child? A god?

To be? To endure? To offer? To embrace? To validate?

An intentional presence that is drawn upon

A place and time of shadows, myths, and dreams?

Birthed within a family?

Matured within a relationship?

Nourished within a community?

Where the Stillness within Silence,

Affirms the exchange of life’s giving and taking,

Embraces the connection of life’s emotional threads, and

Observes the interdependence of life with non-judgmental awareness,

Yet, knows of a united oneness with another that can not be?

Since it can not be, do I yearn

To know integration through the formation of thought;

To see clarity through the flowing of ink; and

To feel completion through the act of creating?

And then, finally, within the stillness of silence,

I befriend

An internal companion with whom

There is an honoring of the who and what of which I am;

A woman, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a wife, a mother, an aunt, a grandmother.

I touch

With reverence the presence of all that was, is, and will be.

I release

The seeking, the beckoning, the yearning to the Winds of Change.

I with uncertainty, Step over the Threshold

Foreseeing the return.

space of openness

In the higher Buddhist view, appearances rise from emptiness and dissolve again…It is a process like birth, living, and dying…practice letting come and go…we may rest longer and longer in the space of openness…Don’t try to shape the oneness, or see it as one thing or another, or gain anything from it. Just let things be. This is the way to find your center.

 Tulku Thondup, The Healing Power of Mind