Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guided Meditation...

Passing into the Storm
   I've written extensively about my practice of "Visual Listening", something I do before I begin my camera work on location. This is simply my term for the guided meditation I engage in before I begin the Deep Play of the photographic experience. I want you to realize how simple I try to make this process. I think everyone needs to establish their own way of approaching this phase of contemplative photography but it is a crucial phase for me. In fact, I might go so far as to state that without some form of guided meditation, preparing your mind for receiving the images, there can be no true contemplative photography! Without this preparation, you are just on a "click and run" mission snatching fragments of the landscape and missing the essential truth of it.

    I sometimes just do a simple breathing meditation to quiet my mind but I often begin the process with an inspiring poem, a quote from a writer I admire or another written form that seems to have the possibility of generating a new way of regarding the world. Simply reading and re-reading the piece, perhaps narrowing it down to just a phrase or even a word, can induce a meditative state. Music is also a lovely way to guide your mediation. It serves to block extraneous noise in the environment that may distract your meditative mind. But use it with caution. The natural sounds of the landscape, wind and bird sound for instance, are very important to an understanding of the place so be careful not to block these sounds completely! If I use music, I am sure to turn it off and listen for these natural sounds as well. They are part and parcel of the landscape and can guide our thoughts (and our photographs) in the most unexpected ways. Once in a meditative frame of mind, I find I am more receptive to the whisperings of the landscape which I then record in my field journal. This is often simple, rambling "word trains" but whatever comes into my mind I record. Then and only then do I pick up my camera a begin to receive my images.

    However you chose to guide your visual listening experience, be sure that your primary objective is to enter into a shared experience with the landscape. You can visit the link below to explore other ways of employing guided mediation in your contemplative practice.

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