Mindfulness meditations have been a very important component in my own ability to overcome my own anxiety issues. It's not that I am living anxiety free these days (not at all) but it's more that I am living in constant awareness of it, not as a feeling to run away from but as a feeling to learn from. When I start to get an anxious thought, I am better equipped to be more mindful of the emotions and physical signs when anxiety appears in my lovely, sometimes confused little noggin. The practice below is a lesson I wrote in response to Guidepost 8: Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety As a Lifestyle. I have found photography and writing to be the best way for me to tap my inner world.
This week's lesson and prompt was inspired by this write up on Mindful Photography
Becoming Friends with Our Anxiety
Brene Brown highlights a very important thought by psychologist Harriet Lerner in this text; it is one that played a big role in overcoming the negative impact of anxiety in my own life. Lerner states that in order to overcome anxious feelings, it might be smart to learn to “identify the emotions that are most likely going to spark reactivity and then practice non-reactive responses.”
One of the things I have learned through writing and photography over the last year has been learning to use our emotions to teach us how to understand the history of why we feel anxiety.
What are some non-reactive responses you can take when feeling anxious?
Using Photography to Be Mindful
This week as we participate in our photography practices, I urge you to approach photography with an increased awareness of what you are truly seeing in front of you. Try to quiet your mind and begin to observe what you are seeing through the camera lens. Mindful photography is intentionally letting go of inner voices in our head that wants us to control the final outcome of the photo. It is really viewing the moment for what it is, as a meditation practice. As you take the photos consider observing your thoughts as you complete your photo assignment this week:
- What emotions are you feeling in the moment of capturing the photo?
- Do the colors of the object increase or decrease your ability to be calm and still?
- What attracts you to this object or person you are viewing?
- Go on a 10 minute photo walk by yourself in your neighborhood. Photograph things that evoke a feeling of calm or stillness. Try limiting yourself to 2 photos in 10 minutes. Remember to be mindful of each emotion that comes up after each shot. Observe your thoughts without judgement. Welcome each thought but do not discern your thought as either good or bad as the truth of the experience. Do not look at your photos until you have completed the photo walk.
- As you look through your photos, observe the thoughts that come into your head as you view them without judgement.
- Reflect on this process in a 10 minute free writing session. When writing, avoid using statements of judgement.