Why do we love travel so much?
It’s not the airplanes, and lines and packing, unpacking and the chilly hotel rooms.
It’s a feeling inside of us that opens up a portal to the new.
Adventure, discovery and our innate childlike qualities remind
us about our ability to always start again.
How lucky are we that we live on a planet so big that there is no way we can ever see it all? However, there is plenty of room to roam,
and plenty to see no matter what your interests, tastes or curiosities.
The trick and the point of this article is to try every day to maintain that open, new curiosity; even from home, from work and in our own backyards.
I walk in the same 30-acre wood almost daily, and every time it is new. Every single hike I see new light, new forms and shadow, and new birds, leaves and rocks.
The camera insists that we try to maintain a constant eye of wonder for what is all around, even if we've seen the trail thousands of times before.
It is a skill to practice keeping your travel eye, and inner child poised and ready to capture images every day, no matter where you are as a life-long scavenger hunt.
#1: Always have your camera phone or a camera on you when you leave the house
(Hard to catch a butterfly without a net!)
#2: Most of the Wonder Compass images that yield any character are close up. Nature has multitudes to show if you stop walking and look around 360 degrees UP CLOSE.
#3: Keep an eye out for interesting abstractions in texture, light, form, color, and unique perspective (not the normal human eye view, but very low or up above.)
#4: Use photo editing software that you can understand and use easily. Photoshop’s great, but if it’s too complex find something easier. Google Photos for instance has a free editing software built into the App that is easy to use.
Use what fits you like a glove or you will resist it.
#5: Almost all images you take will benefit from some post editing with the software you choose. If you’re sharing on your Intagram feed or sending them out to print and hang, it’s worth a little time dialing them in.
#6: Get Closer. Crop Tighter! Cut out any unnecessary image data.
Initially in setting up a day pointed toward meditative practices, the simple dropping of attention into the heart center is a way to create a focal point for inward awareness to reside.
Why is it of value to root our attention and awareness into the heart throughout the day?
The documentary, “The Power of the Heart,” directed by Drew Heriot, interviews many famous trailblazers in the study of the benefits of heart centered awareness.
Some of those interviewed:
-Eckhart Tolle, Maya Angelou, Paulo Coelho, Mark Nepo, Isabel Allende, Deepak Chopra and Gary Zukav.
Science is discovering that there is a vast intelligence that resides in the heart, and may exceed that of the brain.
“The heart is the central guidance system in the body. It generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body.
The heart is able to receive information at a 5,000 times greater rate than the brain.” – Power of the Heart
In the film, a scientific study showed random photo images to human volunteers. Their heart rate elevated prior to the participants being shown a fearful image. The heart response slowed before being shown serene images such as flowers and peaceful landscapes. How could the heart know?
The path of awareness according to the study reveals that our heart “knows” first, then sends information to the brain, then to the body.
This pathway reveals that centering awareness in the heart connects us to inner knowing, while we also observe outwardly.
The act of vigilantly taking photographs through the day utilizes the power of the heart to expand and create beauty no matter where you are.
(Power of the Heart is available to rent on Amazon.com)
Sometimes when we set out to "Wonder" with our cameras in nature it’s fun to have a prompt.
Writers often use prompts to get the juices flowing. Just yesterday I was reading a prompt writing book which asked, “If you could have one skill you were not naturally born with, what would it be?”
Good question, right?
SO, for this activity, we will set out to shoot anything and everything having to do with BIRDS.
Pretend birds have JUST been discovered and it’s your job to photograph their homes, and feeding spots as well as birds themselves.
If all else fails and no evidence of birds is found, you can always focus on trees where they spend time, or flower bushes.
The anchor we throw off the bow of mindfulness practice is rooted in the breath.
Our mind directs our deep inhale through all parts of the body, finding tightness, or stagnation. The out breath releases it.
In sitting meditation, the infinity breath inward can help to ground deep into the center of the earth; then up through the heart up into the sky. Tie the infinity knot up and down again.
Follow the breath and see where it takes you. Continue deep breathing to still the mind and body.
As a practice, when walking and shooting mindfulness photos, stop and sit. Send the breath and your awareness toward a flower or tree breathing its form out and back in. Repeat.
Use the breath as your anchor throughout the day. Follow it and see where it guides you.
The Leaves Are Green
“The leaves are green
The nuts are brown,
They hang so high
They will not come down.
Leave them alone
Till frosty weather,
Then they will all
Come down together.”
On a fall photography stroll, leaving the woods toward a city park,
we came upon a lady and her large dog.
In the woods we came upon an elder woman and her large dog.
There were brief greetings exchanged, happy weather reports, and kind farewells before we continued on down the trail.
Who are strangers? Simply friends we have yet to meet?
Around a trail end, looking up, we might see a cloud in the
shape of a wave, a heart or a bird, before it loses its shape.
The moments of life are rushing in & around us all the time. We may be sitting quietly on a park bench, or in a car on the freeway. Moments, and the present breath of our life is always flowing in - loaded with color, novelty, shape and sound; waiting for us to notice it with our valuable attention, capturing a photograph and using that snap to root into the infinite now.
“May the stars carry your sadness away,
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
May hope forever wipe away your tears.
And above all, may silence make you strong.”
— Chief Dan George
How often during the day do you sit under a tree in silence?
If you have a break at work, do you walk outside, visiting the birds above and watching the squirrels zoom about with their day?
Your camera is your greatest ally to soak up the healing quality of time in nature.
As you sit at your desk, or in a meeting, your camera phone is a reminder. It beckons you – “Lets go find some magic outside! It’s time to take some “Wonder breaths!” and capture some natural art.
This roots, heals and renews your energy throughout the day.
Silence in connection with the visible world, offers volumes to your soul.
Animals are usually completely present in the moment. You may notice some anticipation, as you watch your pup wait by the door for a loved one, but overall, animals are a living reminder of the power of
Spending time around animals offers us a gifted reminder of the infinite
healing and creating potential inside each present moment.
“Sit with animals
And they will
show you their
Sit with them
and they will
help you locate
- Ramblings of the Claury
For the purposes of Mindfulness Photography,
we enter nature openly, while we often bring a full range of human emotions and thoughts.
In our busy lives we may often come to the doors of nature
carrying the burdens of worries or emotions from the week,
hoping to clear them beneath the trees with each foot fall.
Henry David Thoreau, the American naturalist and writer offered, “There is a magnetism in nature, which if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
A great exercise is to offer up a concern or question at the start of your walk and see what comes by the end. Set aside the thinking mind and sink into the heart.
Keep a photographic eye or two out as you walk for natural forms, and shapes that have meaning as you sink into your senses, and root into the heart. Expand the visual right brain doorway to intuitional guidance.