Taking photographs + Writing = Meditating?

On the pier

For years now I have been in search of a way to learn how to meditate.

med·i·tate (md-tt)
a. Buddhism & Hinduism: To train, calm, or empty the mind, often by achieving an altered state, as by focusing on a single object.
b. To engage in devotional contemplation, especially prayer.
2. To think or reflect, especially in a calm and deliberate manner.

Like the illusive pot of gold at the end of my personal rainbow, I kept chasing after the capacity to meditate without much success for many years. I had just about given up, uneasy in the knowledge that I was not able to ever quiet my mind. Then something interesting happened, about three years ago. I started to blog (with Blogger) and was taking my camera with me everywhere I went.  At first nothing different happened. Yet very slowly I felt something in me was slowly changing. As it turned out every time I observed something I wanted to photograph, my mind emptied itself, time stopped and I found myself in another world. The exact same story happened went when I started writing;, my mind felt empty or better said only filled with peace.

To this day, the feeling of contentment I have, this loss of the notion of time and the focus of my mind all point in one direction and I am wondering…
Could I be meditating, only in a very different fashion? What are your thoughts/experiences in this matter dear friend?

20 comments on “Taking photographs + Writing = Meditating?

  1. Hi Anyes, I think it is a form of meditation, that feeling of being completely lost into what you are doing. I know when I draw I can get lost for hours. I don’t know if it is meditation but it takes me to such a deep peaceful place, Glad your photography and your writing does that for you.

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  2. I don’t care what you call it. Words, words, words. You bring peace, Anyes, with your photos and your words. That is what really matters. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

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  3. Yes, your right brain is taking over and all chatter stops from the left side. Its amazing the quiet within that is accessible to each of us, given the moment to ‘go there’🙂

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  4. Dear Anyes
    To me, meditation means being mindful.
    It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are aware that you are in the present moment. If you are here and you are lost in thoughts else where, then you are not meditating.
    One can sit for hours in perfect lotus position and loses himself in thought after thought versus one performing a simple mundane task like washing dishes. But the one who is washing dishes with her mind completely at her task. She feels the water the soap and and aware of all the elements. To me, that is meditation.
    A wise Vietnamese monk named Thich Nhat Hanh said “meditation is being aware of every single action…. Breathing in and I know I am breathing in… Breathing out and I know I am breathing out”

    It’s so simple yet the most difficult.

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    • what a beautiful description! I totally agree – my husband can sit for hours just thinking – but he’s definitely not meditating. When I see something of beauty, whether it be a flower, a dew drop, a beautiful piece of prose or whatever, all thoughts get chased out of my head. i can imagine that photography could result in a similar sensation🙂. There! you’ve found it🙂

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  5. Yes and yes again. I LOVE that part of writing. Reading too, in a way, but nothing makes the passage of time move without motion than writing. I love this post. Feels confirming to think of writing as meditation.

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  6. YES, YES, YES!!! You have written a post that I could signed my name to! I so so agree with you Anyes. I’m so glad you’ve found the way to join the meditation club through photography! I did and it changed my life. xo

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  7. Absolutely. There are many forms of meditation – what they all have in common is the sense of being present in the moment. I think most artists find their work meditative. My husband finds that place when he is fly fishing. Often we think we have to just sit to meditate, but I have found that when we begin to live in a more meditative fashion, sitting comes easier. Trying to “just sit” first is often very difficult.

    The other thing about meditation ~ many people think it is about shutting off your mind, but that rarely happens. It is our mind’s job to think. In meditation, those thoughts just are relegated to the background and allowed to flow. We don’t grab on to them and get hooked – we can be aware of them, but can also stay present and focused in the moment…

    So, all of wordiness is just to say that yes, you have found a lovely way to meditate! 🙂

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    • Yes, yes, yes!!! Photography is absolutely a meditation! I’m taking an on-line class w/Susannah Conway called, Photo Meditations….lovely. And, at the same time, I am re-discovering the value of a daily sitting practice. Also reading Natalie Goldberg’s new book, The True Secret of Writing, which also reminds me of the qualities of writing practice and how they intertwine with sitting practice. None of these are static either…life is dynamic and it makes all these things all the more exciting and curious! Well done Anyes!!

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      • Ah! I did not know that Natalie Goldberg has a new book – thanks for that – I love her books on writing, and Long Quiet Highway was a favorite of mine. Can’t wait to check out her new one!

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  8. how awesome to have found how to lose yourself. I always drive by those self storage places for furniture, belongings, etc and think, ‘geez I wish I could leave my self there for awhile – what a nice break that’d be’. I also have trouble meditating and find the harder I chase it, the faster it runs. but I relate to ‘getting lost’ in something. love that place. your photos are beautiful, btw.

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  9. I believe that meditation, like pray, happens for everyone in a unique way — unique to the individual. I completely understand what you’re saying when you describe your mind emptying as you prepare to take a photograph or you are writing…what is missing when you are doing that is the ego..the part of our brain that wants to control every little thing. That intense focus of simply seeing and being is pure and honest and you are meditating on simply the moment(s). Being able to look at life from different angles other than straight on? That’s a gift! xo

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  10. Meditation I know very little about … but I suppose meditation can be whenever we get lost in thoughts and dreaming away. I’m an un-concentrated person, my thoughts are all over the place most of every day’s hours and I can’t just not get my thoughts together. *smile – have that from my job, so I should really need to meditate.

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  11. Yes you are!!!! Meditation is just to be calm…to allow the incessant mind chatter to be still. You can even achieve that while cleaning to house or washing the dishes🙂 You’ve been meditating without even realizing you’ve been meditating and that is totally an awesome discovery😉

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