Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Have We Lost the Art of Seeing?

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

chihuly_1Yesterday was the last day for the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Chihuly makes grand scale blown glass sculptures in illuminated colors that can blow your mind.

The museum was packed with people, like myself, who waited until the last day to see the exhibit.

The galleries had no ambient light. The installations provided all the light. The piece you see on the left is about fifteen feet wide.

The colors, forms, and textures were quite compelling. They could stop your mind, if you let them.

As soon as I entered the dark, crowded spaces and beheld the first flourishes of glass and color, I reached for my phone to take a picture. I was not alone. iPhones and iPads were clicking away.

What did this compulsion accomplish? What did it cost me? (and everyone else?)

I wanted to have a visual record of this experience. In part, so I could share it with you, my readers. But there was also something more insidious happening. I wanted to hold on to the experience by capturing it with a photographic representation. This “cost” me the experience in the moment. It removed me from the raw power of the art. chihuly_2

After a while, I was seeing the art through the camera instead of my eyes. My mind was not blown or stopped yesterday. I was impressed without doubt. I was moved intellectually by the scope of the work, but I was not stirred emotionally. I was somewhere else, hanging on to the past, leaning into the future, and the mumblings in my head insulated me from a more direct experience of the present.

It occurred to me that I could remove myself from the crowds and find a quiet spot to meditate and then re-engage. Time was running out, but I did this. The second viewing showed me more.

The situation of an art show is different than the photographer looking through the view finder in search of subject matter. I just listened to a 2010 interview with the now late Lou Reed on Q. Reed said that “the world looks better through the camera.” A high end camera can see things that the human eye cannot, but again this is a different context.

The moments of our lives vary in terms of how open we are. We can push that through practice but not every moment is going to provide mind-blowing openness. I think the way we approach the present with camera-in-hand makes it more remote. Had I walked through the first time without the camera and all the anxiety the camera brings (the desire to get the right image and to share it with everyone), I think I would have enjoyed it more.

 



  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    Thanks for these observations. I’m always amazed when people visit our treehouse and take dozens of pictures. Why? To impress their friends? To relive the experience? I want to say to them, “Just be here. Now.” I hardly ever take pictures or if I do, I do so quickly and then put the camera away. The best pictures are in my memory, and I can pull them out anytime without technology. I hope the exhibit will stay with you, but I also appreciate the couple of shots you’ve presented here, an invitation to look around without a viewfinder.

Previous Posts

Oliver Sacks Writes his Pre-Obituary
The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks recently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about his impending death and the light this news casts on his life. His reflections are the epitome of equanimity. What we hear from him is not anxiety, rancor, or regret but rather gratitude, love, and reso

posted 2:23:00pm Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Getting Out of Our Own Way: Finding Liberation in the Moment
If you are like me, you spend more time than you would like caught up in imagined stories that don't feel good and keep you stuck. How can you get out of your own way and stop beating yourself up with regrets. My mind can sometimes get stuck and I'd be in big trouble if I didn't have a mindfulness p

posted 7:44:24pm Feb. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Living in the Present Moment of Clinical Work
There are a number of name brand mindfulness-based interventions for use in clinical work, starting with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in 1979. Since then, we’ve seen the emergence of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Acceptance an

posted 10:38:43am Feb. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Happy Nirvana Day
Yesterday was Valentine's Day; today is Nirvana Day or Parinirvana Day. It is the day that celebrates the Buddha's death or his release into the final state of nirvana. A few years ago, in a post about Nirvana Day, I commented on the assumption regarding rebirth that this description requires. Today

posted 10:24:27am Feb. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Finding Our Place in the World
There is no such thing as "nature" if we are part of all things. To seek nature sets us apart from the natural world. In the Tao, there is no separation. Any separation we feel is conventional and not based upon a deep analysis of the how the material world is put together. Everything is bound b

posted 2:49:18pm Feb. 14, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.