giving up on meditation

Hillside: Andalucia   

Hillside: Andalucia



Given the enthusiasm for it, I almost feel ashamed to admit that meditation doesn't work for me...

I can't do it. It's just doesn't happen. 

Or maybe too much is happens?

Whenever I try to let go, quieten my mind and simply become aware of the thoughts that pass through me, another thought begins to emerge.... "Hold on....what about the mind that is doing this 'noticing'? Is that another mind and shouldn't I calm that one too...?  

And so the rabbit hole opens... There's a manic aspect to the process.

So last week I spent some time resting, writing and thinking on a hillside in Spain. I had planned quite a photographic agenda too but slowly, as a consequence of poor weather, light and transport issues, it all fell apart.  So I wandered and wondered, finding images as I walked. Every now and then my hosts would ask if the photographs were any good and the best I could offer was 'Well, I'm enjoying making some...'

But after a few days I slowed enough to appreciate what was going on and how I was working. And thought I'd offer a few notes....

  • This is work that requires a lot of slowing down, paying attention, looking. Looking again. Seeing.
  • I have to do this on my own. When others are around me I feel constrained, inhibited.  In any case, it takes a while and they get bored.
  • Holding a picture in mind, 'looking for the shot,' having a sense of what 'a good photo' looks like is entirely unhelpful.
  • I need the courage to begin with something half-seen, half-noticed; it's a response to something pre-intellectual.
  • Then I have to work alongside the felt sense.  I try a way of seeing; try a photograph. Try some more and some more. Staying with it.
  • I shouldn't feel discouraged and mustn't rush. I need to keep the exploration going.
  • Separating the process from the images good - working towards an outcome doesn't help.
  • The energy fades after a while.  And maybe there will be something on that camera memory card.
  • There's no point in looking at the back of the camera to check.  I might check the tech/data but searching for something in the tiny screen on the back of the camera is pointless.
  • Later on, I will peer into the computer screen at thousands of pictures of not much.
  • So I start the process again.  Looking, looking again. Seeing. Using Photoshop or whatever to explore and play.  Looking at the pictures. Looking in the pictures. Looking deeply.
  • ......
  • And rinse.
  • Repeat.

So maybe this is a meditative process? A mindful process? I'm not sure and realise that I don't need to know that.

It's a beautiful process. An aesthetic process.

Which is probably the point.



There's more (no doubt, better) stuff written about this or similar approaches to photography. You might have a look at 'The Practice of Contemplative Photography' by Andy Carr and Michael Wood.

Twitter buddy and research colleague @alteredattitude got up at dawn for 40 days to stand in a stream as he photographed a fallen tree and flowers. I get what he was doing. Find his blog here.

I'll photographing at INEXPERT2018 to continue the experiment of working with not knowing.


Steve MarshallComment