LEARNING HOW TO SEE – Zen Contemplative Photography
Photography as a Spiritual/Healing Practice Post NDE
Only six weeks after I emerged from my month in the hospital and just a few weeks out of bed recovering at home, I immersed myself in a photo workshop, “learning how to see” with Zen Buddhist Abbot and master photographer, John Daido Loori, Roshi. I was healing from surgery and almost dying, and to those who viewed my images, my wounds were revealed without ever telling them my story. Our assignment was to take a photograph that expressed the feeling of, “making love with light.” At the time I was feeling deep gratitude for being alive and love for my brother who was at the hospital every one of the 25 days I was there. This was my photograph.
As we were guided through the meditation to look more deeply into, around and through our photographs, to feel them kinesthetically and emotionally, my dyad partner for this exercise said she saw blood cells pumping through a vein. Physically she said she felt cold, and emotionally she felt sad but full of wonder. I had not told her that I almost died six weeks earlier and had surgery to save my life.
That weekend workshop revealed clearly for me that our inner landscape and outer world reflect one another and that photography was a healing modality. A small group of us practiced together meditating with our photographs for a few years after that workshop, unearthing and sharing deeper meaning, deeper stories, and healing for ourselves through our images. I continue this healing photography practice today, and love sharing it with others.
Love, like a glass urn born of molten heat, fragile and transparent… yet capable of holding tears of joy and tears of sorrow. (poem that I wrote to go with the photo)
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Photographer Dorothea Lange