I am reading two books right now that happen to support each other. Each echoes the other fully. This was not by design. It just happened. The first, The Presence Process by Michael Brown is about present moment awareness and meditation. The other book, Zen and Creativity, by John Daido Loori, a Zen Buddhist teacher, is about … present moment awareness, meditation, and art. Before he became a teacher, he was a photographer who was intrigued by the work of Minor White, trained with him, and became good friends over the years. It was Minor White who introduced him to meditation and letting the subject speak to him.
Both use the zazen Zen meditation, which is seated meditation. According to Tao and Zen schools of thought, meditation has absolutely no purpose except to meditate and just “be”. There are no expectations of healing, enlightenment, or any other goal. Just be.
The first book, The Presence Process, came to me through my wife, Vera. Vera was reading it and thought that I might find it interesting. She was right. The second, Zen and Creativity, I have no idea how I found it.
No muse appears when invoked, dire need will not rouse her pity.
For the past 8 days, I’ve been sitting zazen and doing meditation twice a day. Once in the morning when I first get up, after a shower, and once in the evening before I go to bed. My first couple of attempts, 15 minutes, were quite comical. If you’ve never tried it, it is amazing how difficult it is to sit completely still and quiet for 15 minutes. The quiet I had no problem with. The sitting still, well that’s a different story. Also, when you sit, you realize how many hundreds of random thoughts that you have every minute. You have to constantly remind yourself to reconnect with your breathing … in 1 … out 2 … in 3 … out 4, etc. Before you know it, you’re right back to being distracted again. Now, after 8 attempts, I can last almost 20 or 30 seconds without being distracted!
Anyway, I am enjoying the practice. The other day when I went to Bull Hole, I took with me my ever-present load of anxieties, thoughts, doubts, etc. You know, my traveling baggage! When I got to the park, I shot a little bit first, then found a bench next to the water and did 15 minutes of meditation. It’s nice to have those feelings leave, even if for 15 to 30 minutes. I feel somehow, cleaner, clearer.
Did this make a difference in my photography? I’m not quite sure, but it sure did make a difference in my experience. It had been a while since I’d gotten ‘lost’ and worked out of time. I spent 3 hours just exploring, looking, listening, and feeling quite good about it. Also, this time when I looked at my photos, I had a lot more that I liked than in previous outings when that baggage weighed heavily upon my back. So, did I leave the baggage there? Of course not; it’s my baggage! I still carry it with me, but am able to take a rest from it a couple of times per day.
Oh, since I’m flipping back and forth, both of these are digital shots converted to B&W.