I’m coming back to my roots this month, using photography as a daily mindfulness exercise to supplement my formal meditation practice.
It’s been a while since I’ve taken on a month-long photo challenge (not only taking photographs, but sending them out into the world each day). It feels great to have set the intention and to realize once again what a mindful, soul-feeding exercise floral photography is for me. Here are seven reasons why, using two daylilies in my garden as my teachers…
Seven Ways Floral Photography is an Awesome Mindfulness Exercise
1) Flowers reach out and catch your attention. “Hey! Look at me! I’m more interesting than whatever it is you’re worrying about right now! Plus I’m right HERE right NOW!” This daylily is from a patch that grows right next to my driveway. No matter how busy my thinking is as I pull my car up to the house, I’m immediately pulled into the present moment by the splash of color that daylily season provides.
2) Daylilies’ protruding stamens reach out to implore us to pay closer attention, like a tap on the shoulder or a tug on the sleeve. Bringing my macro lens to the task brings an immediate reward.
3) Once you’re in there gawking at the daylily’s sexy reproductive parts, you notice even tinier details, like the elegant curve of the petal’s edge, the texture of the veins, and that magical glow emanating from the center. This progression of observation hones our attention and focus in the same way that mindfulness meditation does. In formal practice, we first ground ourselves in the present moment, then we connect with the body in a broad sense, then we zoom in even further to notice the details of the breath.
4) Photography, and especially floral photography, shows us the value of looking at things from different angles and perspectives. This is the same daylily blossom, but shot from a point just a few inches away. In a different light, the color changes completely. The flower might not be exactly what we thought it was at first glance. Mindfulness practice trains us to approach life with a more open mind, to notice different layers and realities.
5) Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are especially good mindfulness teachers because they remind us that flashy beauty is fleeting. Their blossoms typically only last for 24 hours. The ephemeral nature of daylilies is even more extreme here in Northern Virginia, where deer scoff at our garden deterrence efforts and often nip the tender buds before they ever have the chance to bloom at all. That’s why the blossom below brought me such great joy, as it managed to reach its full potential under my mailbox in a bed that usually serves as a deer feeder. My favorite detail of this flower is the tiny stroke of purple along the inner petal edge. Nature used her finest paint brush for that embellishment! Noticing that little miracle though my lens, I felt the familiar rush of gratitude that accompanies my formal mindfulness practice.
6) And then I sank deeper into the center, noticing that each stamen was just a little different from the one next to it…
7) And deeper still to the elegant meeting of intricately crafted edges tinted with feathered strokes and speckles…
You can follow my month-long photography mindfulness exercise on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love to see your own images of what brings you joy this month! You can jump in any time! The only requirement is intention. Post to my Facebook page, share on Instagram with the hashtag #MarthasJulyJoyPhotoChallenge, or simply reply to this email.
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