Last Friday, I spent the day with my sister on a Garden Photography Workshop run by Emma Davies at Uppark House. I booked our tickets weeks ago with no idea that I’d be on a journey into mindfulness by the time the workshop finally rolled around.
I began thinking about mindfulness after a frustrating photography session, so being able to go on a photography workshop so soon after starting to practice mindfulness was perfect. And it was perfect.
My sister and I were the only two people on the course, and Emma was lovely. She quickly assessed how much we knew about both the technical and artistic aspects of photography, gave us some appropriate tips and exercises and then let us get on with it. Together, we wandered around the gardens, meadow and outhouses, and, although we checked in and chatted a bit here and there, we gave each other the space and time to really look at our surroundings and capture what we were seeing on camera.
It was absolute bliss being able to take the time to see what was there, to frame an image, to think about the subject and its surroundings and to think about what it was I really wanted to photograph. As much as I love my kids, it’s virtually impossible to take that kind of time when they’re around which is why I usually just take pictures on my iPhone when we’re out and about together. It did take me a while to get into a mindful frame of mind though. It felt like changing down a gear, but eventually I managed to go from ‘busy mum’ to ‘mindful photographer’. I let my thoughts scud in and out of my mind without judging them and simply looked at what was in front of my lens … not for the whole four hours though, just when I wanted to.
I’ve only been practicing mindfulness for a short time, but already it’s had a positive effect. I feel that my senses of smell and hearing have been heightened – I’ve been stopped in my tracks by the scent of a flower, and (although I have to be careful not to tune into my tinnitus) I hear and attend to all sorts of sounds that would hitherto have gone unnoticed. I feel calmer and less stressed even though life hasn’t become any less stressful, and I’m not jumping at unexpected sounds.
The greatest benefit though is that, on Friday, I felt as if I were actually there, in each moment, walking around a beautiful garden, looking at the flowers, listening to the birds, feeling the breeze and the warm sunshine on my skin and learning, laughing, living.