Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that leads the practitioner along a path of self-discovery and towards the revelation of their true potential. In Yoga, one must practice, transformative arts that will change us, slowly over time, with the goal to deepen the experience of our humanity. The calisthenics of Yoga practice merely scratch at the surface of its deeper meaning of cultivating, over time, a profound relationship with the vehicle of the full and authentic self: body, mind, and our spiritual potential.
The act of taking a photograph can also be embraced as a form of Yoga, where our longing is to open the spiritual eye, and freeze moments in space and time. It is a magical act, in the same manner in which shamans and other explorers of consciousness view natural magic as one doorway into the deeper dimensions of human experience. Taking the photograph, and processing the image afterwards, changes the photographer, alters him or her forever. And when we share that photographic image with another person, we share a glimpse of what we see in the world around us.
Yoga practice can be used simply as a way to exercise the body, using a combination of bodyweight and meridian stretches, along with a reflective hour of getting in touch with ourselves. Similarly, photography can be used to capture snapshots of our day, both for our own pleasure, or to show others a glimpse into our daily activities. The snapshot, the casual and non-thoughtful pressing of a button to take a forgettable image, will not change us. The Yoga of photography replaces the snapshot event for a transformative moment: one where the inner eye attempts to pierce space and time, to freeze it into an image that can be shared.
In esoteric magic, the transformational art of spiritual development, the image is far more than just the outer reflection of the surface of an object, or a person. The image is an emotional pathway to knowing the object deeply, and devotional images have been used in spiritual disciplines across all cultures, to evoke inner development. Images hold power, and potential that invites the observer of that image to be guided towards something of unknown value. The snapshot, or casual photograph taken with little thought, rarely evokes this experience. This is because it is the creative act of the person taking the photograph, and not the camera itself, that freezes space and time to reveal something deeper than the mundane.
When an artist creates an oil painting, or a drawing, they are utilizing colored oils or pencils, to bring to the canvas a vision of what they experience through their inner eye. Even if they are apparently replicating a natural scene, it is not a duplicate of that scene but a creative interaction between themselves and the natural world. When a photographer takes a photograph, they are also bringing to life something within themselves, along with a subjective connection to the subject on the far side of the lens.
As an energy healer who deals with the interaction between natural flows of health and transformation in the auric energy body, and the emotional and cognitive meaning in the events of our lives, I originally saw photography as a hobby. It was where I could move away from my profession of helping others heal, and engage in a solitary yoga where I picked up a camera and a lens, and lost myself in the natural world. In those early beginnings, I took snapshots, pressed buttons, applied filters, and marveled at the beauty of the world around me.
But now, after thousands of photographs, my photography experience has changed. I no longer seek the snapshot record of a world seen through my regular eyes. The yoga of photography invites me to see the world through both my visual eyes and my inner eye. Now I know the camera does not take the photograph without my full involvement. The camera is only the mechanical means to freeze that vision.
The post-processing of the photographic image also takes me even deeper into creative options, and varied styles of expression. Do I want to choose colors that emulates the film stocks of earlier photographs, or do I want to strip out the color entirely, leaving only contrast and composition? Post-processing a photograph leads us all into a world of multiple realities, and personal expression.
The yoga of photography is the act of taking an image that captures both the vibrational essence of the photographer and their interaction with that which they see before them. The camera is a symbolic shamanic drum, inviting magic to emerge out of any visual moment. The yoga of photography can be a daily practices, like any yoga meditation or exercise hour. It opens the inner eye, and reveals dimensional and emotional depth lying beneath the surface of mundane reality.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Is the photograph of the lotus flower simply evocative of all the lotus flowers you have ever seen before? Or, does the photograph of the lotus flower move you, change you, interact with your emotional body in this very moment? Both experiences are possible.
This article continues with The Basics of Photography: Part One
(c) 2018 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.