I have just returned from a Photography Weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake; an event led, and hosted, by Kim Manley Ort. Kim has developed a Contemplative Photography practice that has enriched her life by being more Present, more Focussed, more Mindful and more Open to experimentation and play.
I spent this past weekend experiencing the wonder that unfolds when I choose to show up, allow myself to be vulnerable, open my heart with a willingness to experience whatever emerges amongst a group of kindred spirits willing to do the same.
This weekend was as rich with contemplative opportunities as it was with photographic experiences. Here is what I have taken to heart as I reflect on the experience as a whole:
The Power of Setting an Intention
Before embarking on our Saturday morning adventure, we each had given careful thought to setting an Intention ~ something we each hoped to learn, receive or achieve through the photographic process in which we were about to engage. We shared our respective Intentions out loud with each other, infusing them with spoken purpose and supportive energy.
This proved to be a powerful act as it provided a focus and mindful awareness throughout the morning and a pleasing, sometimes even surprising, sense of accomplishment when we later shared our experiences with each other.
The Magic of Trying Something New
We all have our own way of going about things; habits and behaviours that work for us and are honed and perfected over time.
This weekend, we all stretched beyond the confines of our comfort zones, and in so doing ~ discovered an interest in developing a new technique, or delight in the joy that playing can bring.
New approaches and perspectives were explored and all in the knowing that we could trust ourselves to be vulnerable and open in the safety of each other.
The Value of Alternate Approaches and Perspectives
There were no strangers in the group to the benefits of, and participation in, online communities. Throughout this weekend though, we consistently felt grateful for the energy we gave to, and received from, each other. Experiencing our photographs from behind the eyes of others was enlightening and inspiring. ‘Seeing’ what others saw and feeling what others felt as they responded to photos we all shared was as interesting as it was uplifting. I really valued the comments, wisdom and appreciation that was shared with me.
The Comfort and Healing Properties of a Compassionate, Safe Space
This weekend, we felt safe to be ourselves in whatever way we needed to be. Tears emerged when a heart cracked open. Fear was faced when a Truth was spoken. Photos were shared with a respect to their significance rather than their aesthetic qualities. Support, laughter and kindness were available in abundance and pushed us all to fully engage; to see where we could go, what we could learn, who we could be. It was as exhilarating as it was humbling.
The Gift of Connection
Feeling that you’re not alone, that you are understood and appreciated, for no reason other than you are you and worthy for being so; this changes lives.
To know that the thoughts you think, the feelings you feel, the world as you see it and your experiences as you experience them are honoured, valued, worthy of being heard and of interest to others; this is a treasured gift. I hold infinite gratitude for the sense of connection I experienced this weekend.
We took photographs too …
I’m also abundantly grateful for the hours I spent with my camera this past weekend. So much Beauty was captured, so much Wonder was shared.
Light infused us all and Inner Flames ignited.
Thank you to the Pretty Ladies who showed me how …