How do you find hidden treasures in life? Knowing where to look is important, but knowing how to look is even more so. Digital lifestyles are reducing our attention spans and our powers of observation have become limited to addictive screens. As a result some of our life’s most valuable gifts go by unnoticed.
In this mindfulness exercise, we will improve our skills of observation and reflection through photography. These skills are essential for understanding the world around us, making informed decisions and enhancing our creativity. More importantly they are crucial for developing empathy for others – one of the beautiful treasures we can offer to this world.
Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
Photography as a mindfulness exercise
Let’s take the help of nature’s less seen gems to train your mind as well as your senses. You can do this walk alone or in a small group. The rules are very simple. Take only one photograph for each creative prompt. At the end of each exercise, groups can form a circle to share pictures and insights if any.
The aim of mindful photography is to hold a moment in your mind that you can treasure forever. Just follow the basic principles of forest bathing:
Be silent. Go slow. Think less. Feel more.
1. Finding The Invisible
For the first task, find and photograph a cluster of insect eggs. Did you know that there are over one million known species of insects, which makes up over 80% of all known animal species on Earth. Many insects lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves or on stems of plants. These include species such as caterpillars, beetles, and grasshoppers.
Train your eye to look carefully. Focus on the tiny nooks of nature and you’ll be surprised at what you can find. Observing the beauty of these hidden treasures creates awe and wonder. It helps to anchor the mind in the present moment and be free.
2. Character Exploration
Find an insect with an interesting personality. You can look around a piece of bark or visit the flowers. Try taking a shot that show the subject in its environment. What is the mood of the insect you are photographing?
Insects have been around for over 350 million years, and they have adapted to survive in almost every habitat on Earth. Mindfulness photography is not just about the external world. These exercises train you to be able to take an inner snapshot as well. To become more aware of your own moods and triggers that change them.
3. Abstract Art
For this activity observe the leaves of plants and trees around you. Search for abstract pattern of holes left behind on leaves by foraging caterpillars. Some species of caterpillars can eat up to 27,000 times their own body weight in leaves during their larval stage. Some have even evolved to mimic the appearance of leaves, helping them to avoid detection by predators. See if you can spot some of these illusive artists or the nature art left behind by them.
The path to self-transformation begins with observation. Just as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, mindfulness exercises bring about a journey of inner metamorphosis.
4. Insect Eye View
Take a picture from the perspective of an ant. What does the world look like when seen from a unique angle? Be curious. Be curious and ask questions to become a more mindful observer. Expanding our awareness beyond the self is a mindfulness exercise for enhancing empathy.
There are over 12,000 known species of ants, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Some species of ants can carry objects up to 50 times their own body weight. Mindful photography teaches us to find beauty in everyday moments. Moments that we might otherwise overlook. Focusing our attention on the small details fosters joy in the simple things of life.
5. Flower Mindfulness
Capture the beauty of a flower that calls out to you. Pay attention to the finer details that make the flower unique. Flowers have a special language with which they communicate with their pollinators. If you wait patiently, you can even take a picture of the flower with its special friend.
It is estimated that one out of every 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by pollinators. Bees are one of the most important insects in the world, as they pollinate approximately 70% of the world’s top 100 crops. Just like the bee and the flower, there are many such invisible interconnections that make our world beautiful. Look carefully, can we try to find those important connections in our own life?
Our Lost Treasures
One of the most overlooked treasure of our lives is the joy of small moments that we spend with our loved ones. Mindful walks with nature offer a range of amazing benefits to improve not just the quality of life but also the quality of our relationships.
For a more detailed activity note as well as downloadable poster and links to other walks please visit our blog post:
Things which are hidden from our attention are often neglected, forgotten or lost. We hope this mindfulness exercise provides you with new ways to increase your attention, observation and awareness. It is through these skills that we can make new connections, identify problems, and come up with useful solutions – not just for our own life, but also for our community and the larger world.
3 Exceptional Treasures From Nature
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I love this treasure walk activity idea! Getting reconnected with nature is the key to living a more present, peaceful life. Well done ;)