Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mindfulness and the Power of Now

     Have you ever been so focused on something that you are doing that you forget about everything else? Many people are talking about or writing about the concept of mindfulness and mindfulness is about being fully present in the moment. Our thoughts often take us back to the past or we may worry about the future, all of which take us out of the present moment. In The Power of Now; A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Eckhart Tolle encourages the reader to "withdraw attention from the past and future whenever they are not needed" (2004, p54-55).  Thoughts about the past or future can often feel good when thinking about positive memories or when looking forward to a fun activity, but if those thoughts are negative it can cause us to feel anxious. A little anxiety is natural. It happens to everyone and can sometimes even be helpful, like being anxious about an upcoming test prompting us to study. But if we are living in the past or future too often, we are not seeing what is right before us, or within us, and experiencing the present moment. More and more people are practicing meditation, mindfulness, and being in the now. Thousands of people watched Eckhart Tolle on Oprah's Winfrey's webcast and have bought his books because they were interested in this concept. I was one of them. Mindfulness is used in therapy more and more by psychiatrists, psychologist, and counsellors. 
     When I am photographing, whether it is a portrait of someone, or a macro shot of a cupcake (or rocks as you can see above), or when I was documenting my mother's 80th birthday party, or capturing images of pelicans on the lake, etc, I get fully present in the moment and so focused on what I am doing that I think of only that and time escapes me. My focus is on what is before me. It isn't just what I see either. I become more connected to my subject somehow. I am not thinking about the past or future. 
     This was my experience photographing these rocks one morning. It was an assignment from my photography instructor. The assignment was to get up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. The assignment was to learn about the use of light in photography, but when engaged in this activity I was laying in a gravel playground playing with and paying attention to rocks, their colour, shape, texture, how smooth yet rough they were, how they balance on one another. I did not worry about anything else but what was before me. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. 

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