Inside this issue
Finding Flow through Mindfulness
The Practical Guide to the Zen of Creativity
Alister Benn is a Scottish Landscape Photographer, writer and guide, who lives in Oslo, Norway. Each year he runs a limited number of small group workshops in Finland, Norway, Spain and Scotland focussing on the development of the unique vision of a small group of participants. His main interests lie in the expression of personal vision through engagement with the landscape.
As I sit here in the dark room, snow falls from a grey, overcast sky, I pause to reflect on the uniqueness of each flake, perfect in its own form; crystalline sculptures with a distinct personality. Even within my limited field of view, their number is beyond count, settling on the icy ground below forming new layers, textures and drifting patterns of aesthetic beauty. Through these eyes, the world is a beautiful place, filled with meaning, metaphors and imagery. It is this mindful engagement that I will write about now; to find ways of transcending judgement, techniques, equipment and the relentless pressure of social media. I want to find flow in the natural beauty of the world, the antithesis of the banal, the ordinary and the everyday. I want every moment to feel like the most important I’ll ever experience and in this way, each moment is precious, giving my life value.
In the grand scheme of things, each image we produce can feel meaningless. I feel it often, as I stop to make a photograph, “does the world need this?” We can be left swamped by the sheer profusion of images, each one vying for attention on the biggest stage, “me, me, me, cries the demanding child!” If I made images for the sake of popularity I’d have quit by now, taking up wood carving, or just writing poetry instead. But, there are things in me that need to be said, and more so than just that expression, it is the engagement with the world and the discovery of value both externally and internally that provide me with all the focus I need. I find the meaning of life in the pursuit of this passion to engage - a valuable and rewarding existence. By exploring what I need to say tells me more about myself, my drive, purpose and place in an often confusing world.
A few months ago I wrote an article called Diamonds and Sand: The Act of Mindfulness in the Landscape (On Landscape 168). In a series of engaging comment interactions, it was put to me that mindfulness was just a new word for being in a flow state, and that got me thinking. Are they the same at all, or quite different, yet still collaborative and complimentary? In this article, I will address that dichotomy and go on to discuss how these states and attitudes can help us find ourselves creatively and regaining harmony in our pursuit of life through the lens.