Photoshop as spiritual practice . . . . Marc Goldring PDF Print E-mail
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Posted by jnalven on Sunday, September 04 @ 08:25:18 CDT

For the past few weeks, my meditation practice has been stale. My emotional reserves have gotten lower and I have needed to bring myself back into balance. But there I am, unable to focus and stuck with a mind that is all over the map, indeed, off the map half the time. So my morning and evening sits have been all form and only a little substance. Ah, well, this happens to me from time to time. It usually means that I need to have patience, which is usually in short supply. I need to give myself the room to love whatever form my practice happens to take. Been doing that. I know the drill. Still, where’s my equanimity when I need it?

Wait a minute – aren’t I supposed to be talking about photography? Taking and making images? Well, yeah. And actually, I am. Stick with me.


When my practice went south this time, it a bit different. I could see the routine in how I was sitting, morning and night, same place, same expectations. What was missing was a connection to my momentary experience each time I sat. And when my sitting becomes formulaic, I know that I need to exercise courage and get beyond that, let go of the form and bring myself into the presence of the sacred reason for the exercise.

Which brings me to my art and the tools of my art. It often happens to me that struggle and insight in one area of my life bleeds over into others. As I work on being open to the evolution of my meditation practice, I feel the parallels with my art-making: that the disciplines of getting quiet and focusing are essentially the same. Art-making is part of my practice. I don’t mean as metaphor, I mean REALLY part, as in: do it, one-pointed focus on my images as I manipulate them in the camera or in Photoshop. Now that gets my attention!


This is seriously “meditation off the mat.” In its application, it means I strive to let go, in a way, of my ego’s version of the image and see what is there, what the universe put there. I bring to bear my skills with various tools, working deliberately, constantly striving to see what is there, what I’ve done. Does it feel like doing asanas? Not exactly, but there is a parallel.

Oh, on some levels, everything can be practice, right? Yet the connections are strong among yoga, meditation, and art-making. Ultimately, it goes to motive, why we do what we do. And what has become clear to me is that the image taking and the image making are sacred acts. When my work is at its highest level, It takes it out of the mind and into…well, some other place that I only begin to recognize much less understand.


Does this shift the nature of my art-making? For sure, in terms of the sensibility I bring to conducting my work. But the impact on the final results, that’s a bit different. That’s because when all is said and done, it’s about making images that touch me – or you – and how they were made is perhaps only of passing interest. And the impact of this is much more clearly seen on a body of work – perhaps the ultimate work of art, our lives.

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