Last weekend I examined an oak leaf.
I took note of the curvy bumps and valleys circling the perimeter of the foliage. In the center, veins sprawled like a spider web, each tiny trough shuttling water and nutrients to various corners of the leaf. For such a small object, it was quite complex.
This observation was part of a zen meditation gathering I attended at a local park.
We engaged in forest bathing and practiced using our visual skills to see beyond what we usually notice with our quick scans of the world. On a hike we see trees, and perhaps the colors of the leaves at a glance, but how often do you look intensely at the minute details?
Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela
As I practiced my visual skills it dawned on me that every time I use a macro lens or zoom feature on my camera to photograph the subtle details around me, I’m also engaging in that meditative experience. Maybe it’s why I enjoy photography so much.
In the Zen meditation class, I learned that by slowing down and observing the world around us in as much detail as we possibly can, our overstimulated nervous system gets a chance to relax. Our mood improves. Physical health balances.
The tip that stood out to me most was learning that this keen sense of observation also disengages the fight-or-flight response. In turn, our bodies can rest and heal.
Some of the best moments of my day occur when I’m walking in nature and pause to get a close-up shot of something I adore, usually flowers, tree bark or wildlife. For a few seconds, I focus all of my visual skills on that object, admiring the intricacies that make it incredible. Then, I snap a picture so I can enjoy the moment again and again.
How often do you take a closer look at the world around you? Can you go a layer deeper? Try sitting in the forest and examining one object with precision. What do you notice that you’ve never paid attention to before?
And, maybe you’ll want to snap a photo of it too.
Until next time,
PS: Visit me on Facebook at Cupcakes and Yoga Pants!
Do you find value in my posts? Show your gratitude by sharing an herbal coffee with me! Thank you!
You write so beautifully, it made me feel like I was there too, witnessing the details of that leaf. I have the exact same experience when I go for a walk. I might stop several times just to take a picture of flowers, trees… Your post made me recall how it is important for my well-being too and how I should do a conscious effort of embracing mindful photography again. Thank you for the inspiration and healing, Angela. Loved reading your post.
Thanks so much, Vanessa! I’m glad this post spoke to you and served as a reminder of the healing that happens in the forest, especially behind a camera lens! ~ Angela