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Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Seeing Red... It's not what you think!


Seeing color was an exercise from The Practice of Contemplative Photography by Andy Karr and Michael Wood.  See their website here.  The idea was to only see color, not to identify the object of the color – as in red *car*, yellow *sign*, blue *house* - but to just see the color – any color – all colors.

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This photo was taken last Fall
outside a restaurant.


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I was out in the car doing errands one day this last week and thought I’d try the exercise.  No camera to tempt me to snap every shot of color I saw…  I just had to be aware…   I began to see red – naturally drawn to it… Interesting…  I just became naturally *aware* of the color red as it passed by me or in front of me, and wondered if this is what the authors meant: The object itself  is not important – don’t need to identify it – only see color…

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And then – a couple of days later I began to see red all around the house. (We have red trim, red car, red fence, red doors, red curtains – all shades and hues of red. J)  Only this time the camera was readily available and I began snapping like a snappin’ fool.  After all, it was an *assignment* and my mind evidently took it seriously. Intuitive seeing left the room and thinking took over.  I became obsessed with red, on an expedition to find red, planning, and arranging – oh-oh…  I broke one of the rules of contemplative photography – no contrivance – if I understand them right.  According to the authors – contrivance is “how we want things to appear and not how things actually are - directly *seeing* your immediate experience unfabricated and uncontrived.”  I started to specifically *look* for anything red, looking for “good” shots – not just spontaneous “flashes of perception/seeing” as they call it in the book – but purposely *looking.*  And I could tell the difference.  There wasn’t a *natural* relaxed, spontaneous *feeling* of perception that flowed from within.  I wasn’t just being *aware* - but conceptual thought took over the process.  I didn’t get absorbed in the moment of awareness, just noticing, instead, my mind became the controller of the moment. I felt stressed and anxious about “getting the shot.”  I think you can see the difference in the two photos at the end of this post with the previous photos.  

The authors say that “true seeing comes through seeing from your basic nature/Beingness which gets ‘reflected’– producing ‘equivalents’ of what you saw from your basic Being, drawing on a deeper level of intelligence than the usual way of seeing..... through being present to something in an open space (of awareness) that is created by letting go of the currents of mental activity that obscure our natural insight and awareness.”  One could call it the awakened eye, just *seeing* life as you find it, rather than manipulating it…   Am not saying I’m there yet… Just sayin’ what they said…


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contrived




So – obviously - I am learning to *see* without the conceptual overlay, without manipulation, without interpretation, judgment, or contrivance – just seeing what is - from that sense of Aware Beingness – that which is seeing through the mask of me.  Not as easy as I *thought.* J


“In reality only the Ultimate is…
The rest is a matter of name and form.
When you understand that names and shapes
are hollow shells without content,
and what is real is nameless and formless,
just pure energy of the life and light
of Consciousness,
you will be at peace -
immersed in the deep Silence of reality…”

Nisargadatta






10 comments:

  1. yes, I remember this happening too! the mind wanting to jump in and just perfect these exercises, make "good" pictures! rather than just seeing shape or colour or texture. But as I read your post it feels like another form of awareness just being aware of clever mind always ready and waiting to take over from just seeing, just touching, just feeling. nice post and I see such a different between the first few pics and the last 2. I love the umbrellas standing at lonely attention.

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    1. Thank you Carole :) Yes, there is so much awareness going on about awareness! :) And as you say, the "clever mind" - how it makes everything into a task. I love the umbrellas too! :) Have been waiting to use that photo!

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  2. I'm new here, but must say I LOVE this post, you explained so well what I feel, I have been taking photographs for a long time, mostly from intuition, I refuse to labour with the technical side of the camera for me it interferes with spontaneity! I'm off to look at the website! Thanks.

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    1. Welcome "foxysue"! :) Thank you! And I love your post on the explosion of Color! Beautiful! You might also like their book - mentioned in the top line of this post. A very different approach to contemplative photography. Am loving it. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment!

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  3. I really like the way your first casual looking for red while driving morphed into see all the red you are surrounded with in your life.

    i love all the photos.

    contrived or uncontrived.

    but what a lovely experiment in learning how we contrive and manipulate life to suit our needs sometimes. also manipulate what we see through our needs as opposed to seeing things as they are naturally. heavy but fun too as you are running around taking all these lovely photos!!

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    1. Thanks Suki :) Yes, each photo has its own beauty in how it is perceived... And doing this is a great way to realize how we *see* life. It was interesting for me how it "morphed", as you say - love that word - from a relaxed state of presence, just noticing, into this driven need to find and capture the color. That felt a little too intense. So I have to remember to relax and just let awareness take over and let things naturally emerge. But yes, tis' FUN!!! :)

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  4. Simply GORGEOUS photos, Christine! I'm really exciting about the exercises in seeing and noticing that this book presents... i can't wait to read it! Seeing your post on this have been very inspiring--thank you! :o) Happy week ((HUGS))

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    1. Thank you Tracy :) Yes, I think you will have a lot of fun with it :) I have to try to remember not to make a "task" of it all, but to just have fun with it. :) Have a wonderful, restful, creative Summer sabbatical these next two weeks! Sounds like a good idea actually....

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  5. Thanks for these continuing explorations in How to See, a theme I've also been fascinated with throughout my life, beginning with a "failed" attempt at majoring in art (couldn't take the criticism). We seem to strive so hard in our culture to leave behind what we later learn we never should've lost, huh. . . . Glad to be reminded of what plain FUN it is remaining open to the creative---in whatever form it emerges.

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    1. Thank you Chris :) They are wonderful explorations for me too in the art of Seeing. :) Possibly photography will be another "doorway" into really *seeing* what's really there already - just allowing myself to be naturally open to what was never lost... Just dancing with the Light! :) Yes, in whatever "form" it emerges :) Not having to make it *look* like anything... but seeing what is...

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