Savouring the Present Moment with Mindful Photography

By Dr Phang Cheng Kar

Mindfulness practice can be simple and fun. One of the ways is through Mindful Photography, whereby we cultivate mindful and curious attention while taking photos. A recent scientific study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Diehl, Zauberman, & Barasch, 2016) shows that taking photos can enhance the positive experience as it increases engagement.

How to apply mindfulness in photography for happiness?

  1. Slow down and smell the roses. When we’re not in a hurry, we’ll notice more the beauty of the present moment experience. Happiness can be accessed right here, right now; only if we can slow down and appreciate the things around us.
  2. Silent distraction and calm the mind. When we’re in distress, we don’t see things clearly. Even if we do, things usually appear unpleasant or annoying. Try to calm the mind, for example, by taking several slow, deep, and mindful breaths. With a calm mind, beauty naturally unfolds here-and-now.
  3. Experience the world with a child-like curiosity (beginner’s mind). As you’re taking photos, try to be playful, curious, and excited like a child. See if you can communicate playfully with the objects, “Hi Flower, smile and say ‘peace.’ Pose for me, please. Thank You.” Sometimes, by not giving a name to an object (e.g., flower), it’s more fun. We get to silence the mind from preconceived ideas of a flower.
  4. Smile to and appreciate what you intend to capture with your camera. Our moment with the object is a unique experience. There will not be another moment with the same feeling; even it’s with the same object. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment and that makes it more precious.
  5. Scan for thoughts, memories, and feelings that arise with the images. As you’re capturing the images, take in the positive and let go of the negative. Learn from the negative experience and let them go like clouds passing through the sky. Focus on the positive experience and immerse yourself in the positive feeling.
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