April 28, 2023 3 min read
Sonja Mackay, the founder of the more human company, uses photography as a way to practise mindfulness and reconnect with the present moment. It all stemmed from a toxic workplace and a diagnoses of chronic fatigue syndrome. She asked herself when it was she really thrived? The answer - when she was seen as human by those she worked with and called a friend. The More Human Company stemmed from here, with the mission to help people become more self aware, kind and compassionate through getting out of our heads and back into our bodies. Mindfulness from behind the lens is something Sonja teaches in her wellbeing and leadership courses and we have been lucky enough to have her share this wisdom with us.
Our smartphones have become our go to camera’s. Capturing minutiae, moments of our lives, meandering through nature, cities, festivals and fairs.
We preserve our memories through the lens.
Yet how many of those moments do we savour, do we pause? Are we really present?
When you scroll back through your Instagram or Facebook feed can you recall how you felt in that moment, why you decided to capture and share it?
“A camera is a lens that allows you to see without a camera”
Dorothea Lange was a photojournalist in the 1940s, her quote resonates as much today as at any time in history.
Whatever kind of camera you use, smartphones, instax or SLR , it is simply a lens which allows you to see.
Using photography allows mindfulness to be accessible. It offers an alternative way of relating to your external world and your internal landscape.
The steps to becoming mindful through photography are simple.
The ABCs of Mindfulness through photography
Assuming you are using your phone, put it on aeroplane mode to ensure you won’t be distracted. It is not possible to be more mindful when our phones want to pull our attention in a million different directions.
Mindfulness involves re-learning how to pay attention to our immediate experience of the present moment.
A = Awareness
B = Breathe
C = Curiosity
S = Silence, Senses, Shutter
We start with awareness. Bring awareness to your surroundings. Look around you, what do you see?
Breathe slowly for three slow inhales and three exhales. Being fully present in your body and relaxing your mind.
Be curious, what is around you that you haven’t noticed before. I invite you to choose a theme be it colour, to look up (a personal favourite) or light. Choosing a theme invites in further curiosity and allows you to focus your attention.
Take time and wander around your chosen area, inside or out. It is important to do this in silence. To be fully present with yourself and your surroundings. There is no rush, allow the image to find you, it will. Allow something to catch your eye and get curious.
Bring all your senses to the moment. As you pause to bring awareness to what has captured your attention, use your other senses, not only your eyes. See - textures, shades of light and dark, shapes and contrasts. What can you hear? Smell, touch and yes even taste. What is in the air around you.
Allow yourself to be absorbed and immersed in your own experience.
Once you have brought complete awareness to the moment you can capture it by pressing the shutter.
Take a moment to notice how it feels to take a photo slowly, mindfully.
With consistent practice you will find that you become more aware of life in general. Start to notice things in your neighbourhood that you never noticed before, even if you have walked down the street hundreds of times.
By practicing mindfulness, you have the opportunity to experience each moment in your life more fully.
Meander mindfully, life is fast enough.
Thanks so much to Sonja for sharing this with us. As a photography lover and someone who is often guilty of getting caught up in the technical and missing out on the moment I really enjoyed going out and trying some of these great tips with my camera and I hope that you all enjoyed this piece and go out and get some fantastic images along with amazing experiences and memories. If you’d like to find out more about Sonja you can follow her onInstagram and read more onthemorehuman.co
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