Monday, May 28, 2012

Seeing with Quiet Eyes: Photography as Meditation Retreat

Last month I was fortunate enough to teach Photography as Meditation to a wonderful group of 31 photographers ranging in age from 17 to 73 at the Buddhist Retreat Center in Ixopo, South Africa.

One of the ideas that I shared was approaching the practice of photography with "beginner's mind".  This Zen Buddhist concept encourages one to enter into the study of a subject with a lack of preconceptions and an attitude of openness and eagerness.  Seeing with the eyes of your inner child or with an attitude of wonder can also take you into this space of being present to beauty.

The poet John O'Donohue in his book Eternal Echoes says this about wonder: "Wonder is a beautiful style of perception; when you wonder at something, your mind voyages deep into its possibility and nature.  You linger among its presences.  You do not take it for granted and are not deceived or blinded by its familiarity.  The sense of wonder keeps experience fresh and original."

Would you see differently if you saw with the eyes of your inner child, seeing something for the very first time?  Wouldn't the whole world seem full of wonder?

Surrounded by the natural beauty of the rural countryside of South Africa no-one had any trouble with this idea.

The teaching studio at the Buddhist Retreat Center

The library at the Buddhist Retreat Center -
a wonderful place to spend a quiet afternoon

A corner of the Zen Garden