I had some friends who used to teach deep-sea photography. Each time they had folks in the ocean for the first time, they asked their students to spend the entire first dive exploring and photographing just a 2 x 2-foot area of coral reef.
Why? Because in such a vast and foreign place it is hard to know what to focus on, much less how to frame the experience for others. The temptation is to speed around taking pictures of everything, but doing so guarantees mediocre photographs. Discipline, in the form of constraint, helped to mature the “eye” of the new divers.
Seeing isn’t about taking it all in, but is instead about seeing the ordinary in all its specificity and poetry. It takes discipline, time, and the acceptance of constraint to learn to see with the eye of the heart. This is the spiritual journey our world is on right now.
Shamanic journeys have a lot in common with deep-sea photography. With the help of the drumbeat, the camera of the mind drops into the dark and watery realms of heart. Given the choppy seas of this moment, we would do well to drop down beneath the surface of recent events and explore subconscious waters where untold beauty lives.
I suggest that we each revisit a moment from the past week, any moment, and use our whole 15-minute journey to explore our 2 x 2 section of coral reef more closely. Let’s slow down, soften our focus, and devote ourselves to seeing what is actually living down here beneath the fears, complaints, and stories of the mind.
While you are underwater in the shamanic journey state, explore: how does it really feel? What does our heart “see” in this moment that our minds don’t? What new layers of meaning and forms of life exist here?
Then we’ll share our photographs with one another.
If you’d like to join this week’s free online journey circle, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.