Getting into nature with a camera can have some unexpected consequences. In addition to feeling refreshed, there are lessons to be learned from viewing the world through the lens of a camera - more than how to use a camera, and more than how to make a great composition. There are deep life lessons available when one becomes still and learns to see in a new way.
Here are three life lessons I've learned by experiencing nature through the lens...
Lesson 1 - Letting Go
In our daily lives, we are often expected to be active, strong, independent, and career-centered. In order to balance this active expression with intuitive expression, we also need to be responsive, still, interdependent, and nature-centered. When we neglect our connections with intuition, we get stuck in our heads and forget to check in with our hearts. Freeing our imagination helps us to reconnect with our heart-centered, intuitive selves.
Just as the trees freely release their leaves, so can we choose to freely release that which the mind stubbornly holds as truth...even when the heart knows differently. Reconnecting with our hearts seems especially vital during these times of unrest in the world. How can we stand together in peace when we hold tightly to our conditioned beliefs of separateness and superiority as Truth?
We can start to let go by getting more comfortable with our imaginations. What does your imagination do when your conditioned mind lets go of the need to be right? When we let go, we can then use our creativity to intuit new solutions to previously unsolvable problems. We can then use our imaginations to step into relaxation, improve our moods, and begin to see with a broader perspective.
Photography offers us a simple way to shift our attention to the shapes, colors, and beauty of everything that surrounds us. Look at the image below. What does your heart see when your mind lets go of trying to categorize, judge, and name?
Photo lesson: Let go of the need to keep sharp focus. Let the focus of the camera slide and watch new shapes and colors effortlessly form. Notice how this engages your imagination.
Lesson 2 - Impermanence
Nature holds the potential to remind us of the impermanence of everything. We have witnessed the cycles of nature over and over. We witness the seasons, the moon, the sun, and the tides. We can use this experience to reflect on the fact that we are also part of nature and part of this cycling through time.
When witnessing nature, we can see that there is exquisite beauty to be found in the cycles of life and death. We can find beauty in imperfections, in the cracks, in the decay. We can find beauty in the slow unfolding of nature. Seeing the beauty in these cycles reminds us that we are all in various forms of life and death and that we are all in the process of returning to the dust from which we came.
When we accept change, transitions, and aging within nature, it's easier to accept our own impermanence. Impermanence can then become a thing of beauty and an opportunity to live more authentically.
With photography, we use our cameras to freeze a moment in time, but nature doesn't stop cycling. Even the images you print will fade over the years...printing itself may even cease to exist. Look at the two images below. What has changed in the last six months? How have you changed in the last six months?
Photo lesson: Take a photo of something outdoors today and then again in six months. Notice what has changed and appreciate the differences without judgement.
Lesson 3 - Embracing Shadows
We are taught the idea of good and evil, black and white, just and unjust, beautiful and ugly. Not only are we taught that those two polarities exist, but also that they are in a constant battle with one another. We are asked to live and love from this dualist perspective, but when we clear out those conditioned thoughts, we can look at our experiences and we can begin to understand that life is just not that simple.
In addition to these opposites, we are asked to appear perfect - perfectly good, perfectly white, perfectly just, perfectly beautiful. However, that perfection is totally unattainable, so we spend a lot of time and energy attempting to cover up who we really are. And when we cover up who we really are, we also cover up our innate beauty, our divine joy, our unbridled passion.
Each and everyone of us has a shadow side. Most of us do our best to ignore it, but research done by Brené Brown suggests that our attempts at doing so add to the shame we feel. She shares, "Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
Too often we attempt to reject our darkness and uphold our light, but there are important lessons to be learned from embracing both. When we step into the shadows, it becomes easier to see our full selves and show up for our lives - in all their glory and their messiness.
What happens when you intentionally step into the shadows? What if you were to accept your imperfections and maybe even see them as a gift?
Photo lesson: Strong concentration of bright light casts very dark, long, harsh shadows. Next time, try photographing from within the shadows - where all the fine details and subtle nuances become visible.
© 2019 Kristin Perry