Everyday I see something beautiful.
Everyday something strikes me.
Everyday I feel at least one or a few butterflies in my stomach.
With the camera while strolling around and without the camera.
Especially without the camera I see more beauty in my everyday surroundings than ever before.
Nowadays, after practicing 10 years the art of contemplative photography; the practice of strolling around with eyes wide-open, open heart and mind and loving curiosity in my everyday world with my camera.
Being in love turned into big love and vast appreciation.
And when the daylight-day is over without having truly seen something, without having connected fully to a fresh perception, I miss it.
Seeing from the heart
This did not happen overnight, nor did it unfold right away in full glory after participating in my first workshop.
Nor do I have a special Good Eye, nor the talent to be(come) a great photographer.
What did happen on the first day of my first Miksang workshop: my visual clear seeing awakened in full connection to my heart. Beyond my intellectual understanding.
Seeing from the heart was an unforgettable experience.
We all experience clear seeing already very natural, very spontaneous. As clear seeing is natural and innate in all of us. But we do not know how we can do this all the time and how we can train this.
I have become really good
By practicing contemplative photography I have become really good at:
- noticing something out of the blue
- letting it in
- taking the time to discern my pure perception
- not reasoning a flash of perception away, not dimming down my visual joyful resonance
- acknowledging my heart’s resonance of seeing fresh and sticking to it when I decide to take picture.
I have become good in photographing the first moment of seeing fresh, my flash of perception – in a calm and methodical manner.
My clear seeing has been stabilized.
Clear seeing is not a solid state and my clear seeing is still expanding. Also, by practicing to let my reasoning thinking and the tendency to become ambitious as in ‘ I want to tell something special with my picture’ at rest, I keep my vision clear.
Leaning into not-knowing and not needing to know what to photograph makes me truly happy!
Wanting to photograph something and work (hard) is highly exhausting…
Being struck because I see something out of the blue and following up in a relaxed and calm photographic manner always is accompanied by tenderness and appreciation – my whole being caressed. This gives energy.
The world is beautiful
Not because I am in infatuated and fallen love (with someone) and now everything is beautiful, heavily romanticizing my daily world. Romanticizing here means things are being neglected; we become selective and we reinforce our self-created preferences.
Being in love with my everyday world has turned into big love.
Because I discovered unconditional beauty.
Because I discovered how to connect to beauty.
Because I discovered that the beauty of the world is infinite and awaits patiently to be seen.
Every day I feel one or a few butterflies in my stomach, sometimes very soft and sometimes very loud; unmistakable little shocks when seeing something out of the blue in my everyday surroundings. Always as a surprise.
I celebrate this special love by expressing creatively in a photographic manner.
One moment at a time.
In a precise, friendly and genuine manner I express the elegance of my world of phenomena. Through creative expression I honor my connection to my everyday world, and my unique moments of being struck.
Why do we fall in love at all?
Why do we fall in love white this one person, out of all the people in this world?
The ‘why’ is inexplicable .
It just is.
It is a deep connection that we feel, as an unique personal resonance. In retrospect we know when and where and how it felt, but the moment itself came as a total surprise! Right through all our thoughts, preferences, opinions and other clads of thoughts.
And when being in love is mutual and answered, being in love grows and changes. Or – after a while – it diminishes.
What is really wonderful and simply about photographing is, we don not need to wait for a match or confirmation.
We can always go for it fully!
This world grants us fundamental hospitality.
If it becomes too complicated or too much hard work to form a direct vivid perception into a photo; letting go is easy – we simply walk away. Knowing the richness of daily beauty is infinite.
Looking and seeing happens every day, every moment
Of all our senses our eyes are the most dominant, what we use first and most. Exception to the rule is blindness or any vision disorder that obstructs vision; than another sense becomes dominant.
Looking and seeing is something we do every day, all day long.
Looking and seeing is also strongly linked to thinking.
Because…as soon as we see something we almost immediately form a word and start thinking something about it and give it a meaning. Thinking, forming opinions and having associations happens in split second.
First we see something. We experience a direct perception, without words. Then a word comes up, and our inner thinking starts up in full start speed. This speed and variety of thoughts often happens unconscious. We don’t even know where this started. We do experience at some point a full-fledged opinion or what we want do do with it.
As photographers/creatives/people we often let go of our true seeing, the freshness of seeing, the very first moment uninhibited seeing, and quickly merge into thinking in pictures, focussed on the end product: “this makes a great picture” or “this is not worth photographing”.
Clear seeing is free from mental interpretation, opinions and judgements.
Opinions are contagious
In our daily world we often get invited, seduced and tempted to form opinions.
Opinions are like cold germs. They fly through the air and before you know it you got one. You talk to someone, you visit a place and hopla, snivel, sniff, you have another opinion. At one you have become contagious for others. Depending of their resistance they get infected or not, and of course it depends of how you spread your opinion. Places where many people gather are hotbeds for opinions: birthdays, meetings, you name it. I am filled with opinions these days. But to say this makes me happy: gee, I feel so much better with all these opinions. No. Luckily most of them just pass. They are being backtracked by facts, or I find another opinion which has more virulence, sticks to my mental mucous membranes and pushes the older opinion aside. Lisette Thooft in ‘Zen and the art of not knowing’ (in Dutch).
To be opinion-free seems difficult and challenging, but it is not really. As it simply means without opinions we have plenty of room and available attention, as soon as we break this cycle. Mostly it is the experience of the amount of room which gives us chills.
With all this renewed space and available attention we can do something else. For instance, use our senses to let in more of the innumerable amount of possible connections to our everyday beauty. Whether it be a sound, a smell or seeing something.
First we lean into our inner open space. We interrupt the mechanic of our continues forming of opinions, judgements and beliefs: we shift our attention.
The moment of falling in love always happens in open space – in between our thoughts and clouds of thoughts (opinions and beliefs). Something, out of the blue, strikes us. Suddenly we feel in love – in retrospect we know when and where, but at the moment itself it came as a surprise!
Our everyday world is beautiful – look!
What we feel what strikes us is invisible to our eyes – we cannot see a flash of perception, we feel it. But our eyes become the direct gateway for expanding our love and appreciation as we set out to further explore the world visually.
Our eyes wide-open and we look further.
The further we look the more we seen how colorful, fresh and fantastic our world is.
Look. This is your world! You can’t not look. There is no other world. This is your world; it is your feast. You inherited this; you inherited your eyeballs; you inherited this world of color. Look at the greatness of the whole thing. Look! Don’t hesitate – look! Open your eyes. Don’t blink, and look, look – look further. C. Trungpa from ‘Shambhala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior’
©Hèlen A Vink, Zandvoort, Netherlands