In photography one learns the difference between looking and seeing, and it involves being open to images as they present themselves to me. An analogous concept would be that mindfulness involves being present to the here and now, noticing what’s around you–the sights, sounds, smells, the light, the movement–and letting it soak in, disregarding any distracting thoughts that might present themselves.
In photography it’s being “in the zone,” which comes from not trying to create, but allowing the creation to reveal itself to me. No rules, no expectations, no limits. Curiosity, openness, receptivity. Beginner’s mind. And a certain amount of technical skill. Those are the qualities that help me most in my image making.
Any contemplative practice which involves losing oneself in the divine follows a similar path of immersion in the experience, open to the self-revealing presence of the Spirit, letting go of expectations and distractions as they occur.
This ideal is not always perfectly realized, either in photography or in contemplation. The important thing is to be in the game. We have little control over most of our life, but what we can do is show up and be present to what’s in front of us, aware and trusting that we are on the right path.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)