indfulness and meditation, what can they have in common with photography? Landscape photography is dependent on a lot of parameters that demand awareness and concentration in short lapses of time during which the suitable lighting is available, especially during sunrises and sunsets. It can be very physical at times when you dance around the scene to find the original composition, the fresh point of view. Also often misplaced and unseen stress is the main reason behind the blank page syndrome. The fear to under perform, the pressure to do something interesting or original is common to all creative task. To be there, relax, aware of the landscape, the head clear of expectations opens the way to overcome the block that we all feel at times. The emptiness liberates from the fear of emptiness.
Sometimes, I feel this pressure to got outside with my camera. Even though it is the perfect day to do it and the sky looks perfect, it feels like an obligation, not an enjoyable play as it is usually. Underlying these hesitations take these days, for me, is the fear redoing the same images again and again. Since I mainly cover the same city, it can be tempting to think that there is nothing new to be done. But I know that as long as I am there with my camera and a lens that there will never be two days alike, nor that there will be an end to all the possible compositions that I cannot think in advance or that something new will catch my eye when I reach my destination. I get there, sometimes uninspired as a concrete block, the creativity flat as a sidewalk and I begin looking, and looking through the lens, waking and looking again with my naked eyes. I take the first shots and as I look at the results in the rear display, it tells me whether to continue or to re frame if I see something that can be done or to simply find something else to compose an image that would be more interesting. Then there is a moment when I enter the zone where I begin to turn around the subject, bend, look again and put the tripod higher, lower, and I am absorbed in the process of composing the image and often it pays because it is the place in my mind that allows me to see things differently. It is the place where I begin seeing what is before me instead of looking. This is the mindset where discoveries are allowed to happen.
Since I have taken meditation, it helps me get in the zone more easily where I can focus on the process more, instead of thinking only of the result. It is a way of practicing my mind to get in creation mode and to stay that way longer. I realized that photography was freeing me of stress even before I took meditation. The awareness required by keeping track of the settings and the light changing and the framing was liberating my mind of everything else. Now, I can feel the calmness even before I begin so my mind is available to see more right away. It allows me to think with my sight more and to think with words, less.
Meditation is good for everyone and is not difficult to do, it just take time and discipline. The time and energy I put there allow me to work more efficiently and to find a reservoir of patience and awareness that I would have otherwise, but in shorter supply. My work is better, my attention is directed at it more clearly. What I use to guide my practice is the Mindfulness Based Stress reduction Program (MBSR), lots of references and tools are available online if you are interested to try. I read other books on creativity, though they helped, nothing did ground me in what I am doing like this non religious meditation. If like me you are the kind of person who think that it looks too fastidious and think that you cannot find the patience to do it, great are the chances that it is exactly what you need!