This is an excerpt from 21 Rituals to Connect with Nature by Theresa Cheung, Alexandra Wenman and Krysia Newman.
Following on from the success of Theresa Cheung’s previous 21 Ritual series comes a nature-based daily practice book. It contains 21 simple, easy daily rituals to help you tune into the natural world around you helping you to feel more grounded and connected to yourself and others. What follows is an excerpt from the book, available to purchase in paperback and ebook format:
Connecting to NATURE RITUAL #13:
Did you know, scientifically speaking, that the blue sky is actually violet? What about the beautiful yellowy-orange sun in the sky? Well, that’s in reality white! Our brains process colour information through the prism of our eyes and our eyes process colour as a best approximation of reality.
Nearly all of us have access to a digital camera now. It’s estimated that more than five billion of us own a camera phone – well over half the global population. You only have to click onto social media sites to see photographs of people’s meals, a night out on the town or a pouting face. How many times have you mindlessly scrolled through hundreds of images that all look the same, not really noticing the details?
This ritual helps us to think more about the world around us using technology to enhance what we already see with our eyes and mindfully examine the beauty of nature.
Photography not only enhances our visual experiences but, when used mindfully, it can have significant cognitive benefits. Research has shown that mindful photography (that is, focusing on aspects of specific objects) directly improved memory skills.
Seeing the world through the lens, in full detail, changes your perspective on seemingly mundane items, making them intriguing and extraordinary. It allows you to forge a strong connection with the natural world as well as unleashing motivation, creativity and strengthening your powers of concentration.
The beauty of this practice is that you need no formal qualifications or knowledge of photography – anyone with a camera can get involved.
In many ways the art of photography is inherently mindful as you select shots, thinking carefully about framing, light, shadow and impact. When you consciously add mindfulness into this process, you take out the “right and wrong” of a shot and accept the image in front of you for what it is. By removing the preconceptions of what makes a good photograph, you take the burden of responsibility from your mind and allow a peaceful curiosity to take over.
It’s in this calming process that the mental health benefits begin to flow, lessening anxieties and allowing the mind to wander.
BRINGING THE RITUAL TO LIFE
Start by finding somewhere outdoors where you feel comfortable – perhaps in your garden or a park, or maybe at a local beauty spot. You’re there to take mindful pictures but you are not seeking perfection, so just follow your intuition.
Now use your phone camera to take several photos of the item from different angles. Notice how you are feeling in the moment you are taking the picture.
Continue to take photos mindfully for as long as you wish. You can look back at the shots either immediately afterwards or back at home. When you review your pictures, zoom in and look at the defined lines and patterns. How did they differ to the initial observations you made when you first studied the item using just your eyes?
This ritual is so simple you can do it anywhere. Just take out your phone camera and start snapping away. We use our phones all the time and most have this great facility to take pictures – why not put this to good use and improve your memory, concentration and mental health at the same time?