Sunday, January 30, 2011

Step 3 of Interspiritual Meditation: Transformation

I found these intriguing circles when I was out on my foggy day last week, and can't help but be curious about them.  How did they come to be here?  Do they have a purpose?  And what -- if anything -- do they have to tell me about ... well ... anything?

My first thought -- on looking at the image now -- is that I didn't spend enough time with these circles; didn't pay enough attention when composing this image.  I know, from having prepared the talk I'll be giving later this week, that composition is one of the key steps of contemplative photography, and is critical to the latter parts of the process.

And as I look at the image now, my first thought is that the circles make perfect frames.  Which makes me think of this class I'm taking on metaphors, as we are learning that most of us view the world through metaphorical frames -- which allows us to focus on some aspects of the picture and ignore others.

So if these circles are frames, what are they framing?  Nothing in particular, at least, not in this image.  So I wasn't very conscious about that when I took the picture: I saw the circles as subjects in themselves, not as potential frames for other subjects.

But I also see that the larger circle might have at least served as a frame for the smaller one: surely there is some place I could have stood where I could look through the larger one and see the smaller one.  So then I wonder, if I did that, what would the smaller circle reveal?  Did the people who created the circles set them up so if you get them lined up something would magically appear? 

So now I want to go back and look again.  Which is often true for me: the first time I see something, I know there is a photograph there, but I don't always have -- or take -- the time to explore; I just snap and move on.  Sometimes I return to a site again and again because it seems to have many layers of information, or because different seasons or different times of day reveal different aspects of the story each site has to tell.

Which is why a meditation practice can be so rewarding, I think: we return to the same place, to the same room, the same chair; to the same brain and the same heart; to the same thought patterns and emotions, day after day, and with each conscious decision to sit with what is, something new is revealed, something new is awakened.  It's really about conscious attention, and training us to be more consciously attentive, more present, to ALL of the parts of our lives.

So when I look at this photo, do I berate myself for not taking the time to "do it right?"  No.  What happens here -- if I am conscious in THIS moment, when I am looking at the image, is I see the invitation it contains.  I recognize my own fallibility, but do not berate myself; I simply smile and say I still have a lot to learn about being present -- and I make a commitment to return and explore the possibilities of the scene in more depth.

It's a bit like the third step of Interspiritual Meditation, which is Transformation, and consists of the following steps (which I've interpreted relative to this photo):

1.  Imagine the ideal:  Well, ideally each picture would have something to say.
2.  Self-Assessment: How did I do with this one?
3.  Confession: I didn't spend enough time here, didn't notice the potential.
4.  Remorse:  I'm sad I wasn't more conscious, more attentive; often a problem for me.
5.  Forgiveness:  I  forgive myself and release the tendency to flagellate myself.
6.  Commitment: I resolve to go back and try again, to see more, and be more present.

See?  there are lessons and opportunities everywhere; we only need to take the time to see them...

3 comments:

Maureen said...

Intriguing, those circles. They prompt a narrative, for sure. I notice a small one is visible through the one in the foreground, and just above to the left is another one that looks like it's looping to make the left arm of an H.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Love the 3rd step!

And sometimes, for me, it is that in that first encounter, there is too much for me to take in and I have to step away to be able to come back and immerse myself in it in order to find my meaning in it.

what I love about your photography is -- you see things from so many different POV -- and always, you see the beauty no matter where you stand.

Anonymous said...

As a photographer/meditator myself I recognised the pattern of your thoughts with ease. The words that came to my mind were: The more you see the less you put in your image.

Blessings - Kay