Over the last century, photographic images have played a big part in how we see and think about the world, and ourselves. When photography was invented, it fueled debates about its use and misuse in society. A photograph helps us understand something objectively in a way that no verbal description ever will. As Susan Sontag stated in her book On Photography,
“A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. The picture may distort; but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in the picture.
Whatever the limitations or pretensions of the individual photographer, a photograph-any photograph-seems to have a more innocent, and therefore more accurate, relation to visible reality than do other mimetic objects” (Sontag, 1977, pp. 5-6).
Photography helps keep our memories alive, reminds us of who we once were, feelings we once felt, and aids in self-identity. How many times have you seen a photo and it evoked a strong sensation in you that you did not understand? This is where the mind plays a role in photography.
The mind helps us understand the visual image by making us think about the state of the mind the photographer was in when he took the photo and how we perceive the photo.
The mind is the essence of your being, it controls everything. In photography, the mind helps in the exploration of how people create and react to photos. It is defined as the faculty of our consciousness. Consciousness is your nature, it’s the state of awareness of your feelings, sensations, or thoughts.
It encompasses both awareness and attention. Consciousness plays a big role in human-well-being. One of its attributes in relation to well-being is mindfulness. Dr Jon Kabat Zinn defined mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”.
Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhism, which began in Northern India 2500 years ago with Siddhartha Gautama now known as “the Buddha”. The three major traditions of Buddhism that seek mindfulness understanding are Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Through the process of mindfulness, one will have a shift in perspective since the individual will disengage from the contents of consciousness and view their present experience with more objectivity, used as a therapeutic technique. Mindfulness can be refined by a variety of meditative techniques which include meditation, yoga, mindful walking or mindful breathing.
We all have the tendency to get caught up in the technical part of photography, what equipment to use, and lose sight of the end objective, the images. This is where mindful photography comes into play. In mindfulness photography we let go of the fact that we need to capture the perfect shot, instead we experience seeing. Just like you use your breath as an anchor during meditation, mindful photography uses what you see as an anchor. When we let go of our self, the picture appears to us, it finds us rather than us finding the picture. Research in positive psychology indicates that using mindful photography increases their happiness and increases appreciation for life. Mindful photography helps people be more aware of their daily surroundings in a way that they wouldn’t normally do through the lens of a camera. Mindfulness photography is a form of self-help, it aids in gaining a better understanding of one’s self which results in figuring out your identity. Mindfulness in photography becomes therapeutic because it provides a greater awareness of the world, the self, and how they interact.
Nearly 30 years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced mindfulness as a measure into clinical research through the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). In several reviews and meta-analyses, mindfulness-based interventions were proven to hold considerable therapeutic promise by treating conditions such as anxiety, stress, or chronic pain, as well as it has been found to improve physical health conditions and behavior changes. American Addiction Center states that “recent drug relapse statistics show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within the year following treatment. Without a long-term relapse prevention plan, most people will tend to go back to their old bad habits after they finish their treatments at rehab centers since they do not stick to their treatment plan afterwards. Relapse can still occur even after treatment so taking proper steps to remain stable can increase a person’s chances to stay on the recovery path. Although verbal communication is vital in most forms of therapy, several alternative expressive therapies are available like photography, it has shown to be beneficial for individuals who express themselves better with visual aids. As an expression of reality, photography assists the rehabilitation counseling process and has been implemented in various therapeutic settings. We can apply mindfulness to photography and it becomes a creative meditation.
My paper will cover implementing mindful photography and phototherapy as part of patient’s treatment in rehab centers to check if this results in lower relapse percentages since mindful photography has been said to increase positive emotion and give a shift to one’s perspective on life, reperceiving, which aids in self-discovery and further results to internal happiness.
There has always been a debate on whether the mind and body are separate. The mind-body problem occupies a crucial part of the philosophy of mind. The only problem was due to the fact that since the body is physical and mind is not physical, body is spatial and mind is not spatial, the body is one type of substance and mind is another type of substance so how can these two be related? In order to have a mind-body problem you have to think about yourself as two, one is the thing that moves, that occupies space; having a body that you and medicine can understand, and science can experiment. Two is the mental life, the sensation you feel when eating a delicious meal, the love you feel for your friends and family, the thoughts you have and the ability to see colors. Famous philosopher Renee Descartes believed that there must be two definite kinds of entities in the universe: physical ones, the human body, and non-physical ones, the mind. This was known as Dualism. Descartes trusted that the mind and body exist independently. He believed that the mind controls the body, that the body is an extension of the mind, and its function is completely different than that of the mind, but he also stated that at some points the mind and body unite like appetites of hunger and thirst, or the fact that when my body gets hit I feel pain because I choose to feel pain, if I choose not to feel pain, then I wouldn’t be in any pain. These are emotions which can’t exist solely as mental affections or body affections but have a close intimate relationship between them. This is known as the Cartesian Dualism. Descartes believed that the pineal gland in the brain was the locus of interaction between the mind and the body since he believed that it is the only part of the brain that is not a duplicate. He suggested that the pineal gland mediates the mind and the body each one of them having different functions and brings a certain interaction between them called Interactionism.
Descartes believed that there are two relative substances, whereas Spinoza believed that there is one substance with an infinite number of attributes independent, and untouched by one another of which are the mind and the body. They are found everywhere, therefore, wherever there is matter, there is mind and vice-versa. Spinoza holds that they are different from each other so the physical cannot be described by the mental and the mental cannot be described by the physical. There cannot be a causal relationship between the mental and the physical. Spinoza says that for every mental event there is a physical event corresponding to it in the brain. However, the physical does not cause the mental, like food digestion, for which there is no mental correlation to. Therefore, Spinoza considers his theory as “psychophysical parallelism”.
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