David Ulrich noticed the connection between meditation and the power of images during his first college photography class in 1971.
That day, he recalled, “we noisily entered the room to observe the teacher seated in a lotus position in the front of it.” “He began the class with the statement ‘It is my belief that creativity arises from stillness.’ In that class, meditation was the gateway to seeing.”
“I think that one of the most important things asked of us by Buddhism is to learn simply to see what is as we look both inward and outward,” Ulrich told Tricycle. “If you take time with the subject and use the camera as a way of interacting with the world rather than mindlessly taking pictures and selfies, the camera can teach you about your own authentic way of seeing.”
But there are also times where just putting away your phone is appropriate.
“Sometimes, we need to create acts of resistance—to resist the draw of the device, to put it aside for a period of time, and to consciously experience this discomfort,” he said. “By resisting the draw of our devices, we can generate attention and force for enhancing our awareness.”
In the end, said Ulrich, homing in on your natural responses to the world is the key to discovering themes that strike a chord in your art. “With mindful attention, you can observe your inner response to what you see and discover your points of resonance with the world,” he said.
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Lakshmi Gandhi is a journalist and pop culture writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in Metro New York, NBC Asian America and NPR’s Code Switch blog, among other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @LakshmiGandhi.