It’s no secret that mindfulness has gained enormous popularity in the last decade, both in the popular press as well as in the literature of psychotherapy. The practice has evolved from a largely obscure Buddhist concept founded about 2,600 years ago to a mainstream psychotherapy method today.
Advocates of mindfulness would have us believe that virtually everyone would benefit from being more mindful. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that meditation practices can significantly improve our mental, emotional, and physical health. And some studies go a step further to suggest that practicing meditation can actually change the structures of the brain.
With distractions permeating our thinking at every turn, one could surmise that mindfulness practices are more important than ever for reducing stress and anxiety, cultivating a more holistic approach to life, and unlocking new possibilities.
For Victoria, Canada-based photographer Mackenzie Duncan embracing time for stillness has allowed him to channel his creativity in newfound ways. Although Mackenzie had been practicing meditation for the last decade, attending a vipassana course a few years back gave him the breakthrough and inspiration he needed to enhance his photography.
In today’s busy world, my experience with meditation is it helps me to focus and to carve out time to just sit and let ideas rise above the noise. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day at points that still helps. When I do make the time to sit for an hour a day or attend a longer retreat (8 hours a day for 10 days in a row being an option) I come out with a long list of ideas and a renewed sense of focus and meaning behind those ideas.
Over the years, Mackenzie has been through many different phases with his business. Spending a significant portion of his time on commercial work and not moving forward with personal creative projects.
After taking time to reflect on some of his projects from the last year, he realized the seed of many of them was planted during his last Vipassana — a 10 day silent meditation retreat. Having come to that realization, Mackenize decided to start the new year by sitting in silence for another 10 days to see what creative projects arose. Through this exploration, he found himself in various places, with different clients, and down the NFT rabbit hole. This collection of images are the result of those explorations.
As much as I love commercial work I find I need to have a balance of the two as they both present different challenges. They both feed each other and it’s important to create time to push both forward.
Meditation practices vary from person to person. Even a short 10 minutes of meditation can have tremendous benefits on the mind and body. I asked Mackenzie to tell us more about his practice, and he shared what works for him.
It comes and goes. I find my ideal is about 45 minutes every morning. And to be totally transparent that doesn’t happen for long periods of time. I often fall off the practice and eventually have to find my way back. One thing I do notice is how much more time I seem to have, or how time moves at a different pace when I am committed to that practice.
You start by focusing on your breath and then from there move to noticing and accepting sensations in your body. One way to sum it is up is sitting with the impermanence of everything, of our lives, of sensations, of moments. By doing this it allows one to live from a place of action, not reaction.
Meditation and photography both require us to remain focused on the present moment, on the direct experience, while overcoming distractions. Meditation redirects our attention from the ideas and concepts occupying our minds to the direct experience of the moment. Photography offers us the same opportunity.
In spite of how intimidating or difficult it may seem, implementing a daily meditation practice can have immeasurable benefits and will be well worth the effort.
Start small and be kind to yourself. Also, remember it’s a practice and the nature of practice is that some days are good, others are bad and there is no final goal.
See more of Mackenzie’s work on his website.
Read more about Mackenzie on our Published blog.