Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Natural State - Essay #2

Meaningful experiences are sought in the physical environment but they are in fact generated within the psyche. In ancient times, being in tune with nature and instinctively interacting with other living things connected humans with the natural environment. In the cultural arrogance of modern society, this timeless practice has been lost and a sort of lazy indifference has taken place. Experiences of inner reflection deepen and clarify personal observations of life. Meditation is a way to be in touch with our own true nature and with the natural environment. The natural practice of meditating brings back a powerful state of control when facing daily challenges.

Thoughts draw objects of desire or familiar feelings to present awareness. When something is foremost in thought, we take more notice of that thing. Whether perceived as good or bad, intentional focus creates insight and understanding of a situation. Thoughts bring about conscious awareness of the condition of life. Awareness of thoughts and allowing them to pass as such, just thoughts, brings about a natural state of being. Meditation is a way of taking notice and then letting thoughts slip away. By not clinging to thoughts, they become entities that are observable and can be let go. When seen as such, another step can be taken back to ponder as to whom it is that is doing the observing.

Daily disturbances, turmoil and unsettled feelings of restlessness manifest illnesses such as upset stomach or headaches. Overlooked or ignored these maladies lead to more serious conditions such as migraines, ulcers, and eczema. Research on a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, finds that mindfulness-meditation helps patients who are suffering from continual medical conditions (“Clinical: An introduction to mindfulness 33). Clarity of the relaxed mind brings about a smoother flow of energy, reducing tension and generating healing. Mindfulness meditation in the present moment creates this inner flow of energy that leads to a healthier existence.

Meditation focuses on controlling how the mind perceives circumstances. Life is an array of hurt and disappointments varied with blissful joy and abundance. Allowing thoughts to run rampant is devastating to the mind. Physical and emotional disorder offset the natural balance. Cord Cooper stated in an Investor’s Business Daily article that taking a deep breath, relaxation and focus is key to master energy level, ability to focus and attitude (A03). The breath naturally brings us back to the present moment. The breath also supplies the body with oxygen rich blood. Blood that is rich with oxygen relieves the body of tension and ultimately clears the mind. Focusing the mind on the present moment increases the ability to cope with these daily stressors.

Pain is inevitable; meditation is a vehicle for passing through the discomforts. When the mind focuses on thoughts of pain, it generates more of the same. Pain causes the muscles to tighten and resistance builds through thoughts. Softening into the resistance causes dramatic physical and emotional change. Determination is necessary for gaining strength to continue forward. Settling into the pain relieves tension and provides allowance to pass through like a wave rolling ashore. An example of the power of this meditative practice may be childbirth and the Lamaze breaths, which provides a “…sense of involvement in the process, control, awareness, and a level of anxiety relief and pain management…” (Hartman 87). Lamaze focused breathing techniques are a form of meditation to calm the mind and ride through the intensity of physical pain.

The simple act of meditation has powerful benefits. Meditation gives the opportunity to cultivate energy to push against comfort zones. Stepping through a comfort zone enhances and enriches life. This does not change the cause of hurt but does changes the perception of the cause. There are unpleasant situations where action needs to be taken and the mind is demanding that it is impossible. It is the mind that is forming and repeating the negative story. It is the mind that is compiling the road block. This is where the mind needs to be settled and the fortitude to continue is drawn forth. A shift in view gives the opportunity to develop intentions into positive actions. Taking positive action in life creates a sense of control and inner stability.

The changes faced in society today require the attention, control and compassion that are cultivated with meditation. Experiences are much more meaningful with an open awareness. Life is richer, deeper and more fluid. This sense of control gives the ability to take action in a constructive manner easing the tension inside the physical body. In conjuncture with outside forces, the inside forces can integrate with daily existence seamlessly. Healthy respect for the body demonstrates that relaxation is the body’s natural state. In the natural state of relaxation, the mind focuses on positive thoughts. Mental health combined with physical health contributes to positive emotions. With these things combined, life is harmonious. By not acknowledging the connection with all living things; this creates a denial in an authentic participation of life. The benefits of meditation release the mind from the bond of unhealthy thoughts that hinder resilience. With practice, serenity is the natural state of presence. By taking a mindful approach to change, hardships are dealt with productively and health is controlled holistically.

The Lens of New Light - Essay #1

Life is full of potential and many things to do, places to go, people to meet and photos to take! Simplistic or eventful as life can be, it is always adventurous, always interesting and always there for us. Not everyone thinks of grabbing the camera as a necessity, along with car keys, sunglasses and pocket cash while walking out the door. Nevertheless, maybe more should. Looking through the camera gives the opportunity to see things in a new light and expand personal growth.

The person who brings the camera finds personal satisfaction in sharing the story with others. There may be feelings of inadequacy with the responsibility. There is trial period of practice while settling into an artistic style. Taking pictures connects the photographer with the photograph. There is a sense of control while taking pictures. Conversations develop when taking pictures of people. Bonds form in the midst of smiles coaxed for the camera. Fun and laughter of camaraderie brings individuals together with a group photo. Children are entertained when attention is on them while taking pictures. Carolyn Lane is a Haiti volunteer who was taking pictures of children and realized that they were not smiling. She found out that they did not get their pictures taken often and were trying to be serious. Once she shared the photos with the children, they became excited and smiled for the pictures then on out (Gienow). Children draw into the event when seeing themselves in the viewfinder window. Children encourage the photographer to take more.

If there is luck, if there is good light, if the subject is in focus and if the mind is calm, astounding pictures can happen. When the camera is the photographer’s eyes, countless more perspectives become available. A blurred splash of distinct colors promotes a child’s view while on the bedroom floor. Radiant sunlight illuminates through a forest of dandelion speckled expanse of lawn. When focus narrows down a fencerow, the depth and distance create the illusion of time receding. Creative photos project an intentional point of view for others to perceive.

Interesting facts are uncovered when researching specific photos. Researching photos on the internet, or otherwise, is entertaining because they are oft times manipulated in some way. The media does ‘stage’ photos for journalistic reasons. Popular magazines air brushes the model’s pictures and contorts their figures to make them appear flawless and irregularly proportioned from the real life human figure. Robyn Ryan, writer for Choice magazine, expresses her dismay at being misled when she purchased an Ebay item without investigating the photograph’s authenticity (11). By researching photos, there is also opportunity to look up an evasive species of plant life, an odd bug or investigating a treasured antiques’ value. Interest deepens when investigating a particular brand or breed with similar reputable photos. Facts are uncovered and may lead the curious photographer onto new interests.
Looking through the lens gives the opportunity to look for an original style. Photographer Jonny Briggs expresses that he constructs his own style by using digital photography and photo manipulation to recreate the past through puzzling pictures together in seamless montages (“Photography & Image”). Taking pictures is a chance to save a memory with a certain perspective in mind. It is a personal preference. Individuals have their own unique style, own unique way of interacting with people and objects, and own unique artistic flair. By reflecting within creates an individual style. Distinct personalities emerge when experimenting with new styles and techniques. By viewing and interacting with other artists, mix and matching styles, fresh ideas develop. Entering contests encourages thought about theme and style, narrows focus and is an opportunity to try something different. Journals are for keeping ideas and dreams for creative inspiration. Keeping the mind open, scanning for opportunities and following the light can lead to many new discoveries.

There are so many wonderful miraculous sights. The way the light shines through the tree leaves or blinking of fireflies in the warm summer’s night, there are many wonders to behold. If captured in a jar and secured with a hole studded lid, the flies bright sparkle, even for a brief time, is captured for thoughtful up close inspection. Detained fireflies are a curious form of enjoyment and appreciation. Fireflies set free will continue their journey in life. With photography, small snippets, a fraction of reality, is memory saved in a photo. The fireflies will fly free; the photo will obtain the memory.