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Bringing the Gift of Mindfulness to My Photography Passion

By: Kelly D'Souza

woman taking a picture

Positive Psychology is a field within psychology that focuses on the strengths of an individual that empower one to thrive. The foundation of the field lies in the belief that people are interested in their own well-being and constantly strive to enhance their own experiences. This is a stark contrast to traditional psychology, which is deeply invested in psychological illness and treatment. The question to ask yourself is, “What makes me feel fulfilled and content?” and then to try to bring mindfulness to that contentment.

I have a keen interest in photography. I could spend an hour going through photographs or appreciating aesthetic and picture composition. Taking pictures of street art or my daily routine gives me a sense of contentment. But sometimes, it can have an opposite effect. For example, on a certain day, taking a picture for the sake of it makes me feel irritable, or capturing a certain scene that is incongruent with how I feel makes me feel anxious. Sometimes I realize how I am drawn towards capturing a certain scene and it fits with the emotion I’m trying to avoid.

Since the last few months of being part of Conscious Counselling, I have dedicated a good amount of time to practicing what we strongly advocate for. Self Care and Mindfulness top that list. Bringing mindfulness to my hobby and passion was a necessary intersection.

“Mindfulness applied to any activity turns it into kind of a meditation” - Jon Kabat Zinn.

What did bringing awareness to photography look like?

  • 1) Congruence and communication: Being congruent with my goals and ideas that represent myself and highlight my personality. Trying to build an open relationship with any person viewing the picture I captured by conveying an emotion through the photo composition. For example, if I felt homesick and felt too stuck in a place, I’d try to capture a picture of an airplane in the sky to represent my emotion rather than by overselling how I love where I am, which in a way would work like a defense mechanism (in this case rationalization).

  • 2) Awareness: Keeping my mind and eyes open to the present moment and staying connected to what I value as an individual. Bringing my awareness to what emotion that captured image elicited.

  • 3) First time: I love capturing images from my daily routine – for example, street art on the way to work or the transit I use during the day. The goal was to view it like I’m seeing it for the first time and to take the "rut" out of the routine.

  • 4) Gratitude: Being appreciative of the sight that caught my attention before I capture it on my phone.

  • 5) Acceptance: Accepting the emotions that were elicited when viewing the scene/object before capturing it and the state of mind that arises while capturing it. If the image didn’t turn out as anticipated, accepting the imperfection.

  • 6) Take the "chore out": Focusing on the process before touching my phone to take a photo. It meant focusing on the physical process rather than rushing through it and realizing it’s a positive effort.

  • 7) Challenge: Appreciating and trying to process the information of an experience even in the absence of a phone or camera.

  • 8) Self discovery: Being mindful of what scene attracts me, what makes me want to capture it, and the repetitions in the images I captured. For example, during a particular month, I captured a dozen pictures of coloured doors. It took me a while to bring awareness to that repetition and use it for introspection.

I hope this article helps you to bring mindfulness to your passion. Our team will be happy to hear from you.

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