I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process – the capricious nature of the muses, and some people’s ability to be effortlessly creative.
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions when studying a subject – even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
Often when we become really knowledgeable about a specific area in photography, we become blinded in our ability to look at the subject from a new and different perspective. When you think you know everything you need to know, you are not open to other possibilities.
Beginner’s Mind is about being open to the unknown, and emptying the mind of preconceived ideas.
When we are curious we create a learning mindset. This allows us to look at something new as an opportunity to learn, rather than to create expectations about the outcome.
Here are two simple ways that will help you to cultivate the beginner’s mind in your life:
Experience the moment fully. Beginner’s Mind allows you to take it all in so that even ordinary things begin to shine.
Have fun and experiment. Beginner’s mind should ultimately be fun and enjoyable. Just as a child has fun exploring its environment, you should be having fun with it too. Play pretend. Treat things as a game. Experiment. Learn.
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With a Beginner’s Mind, you will be more open to possibilities and consequently more creative.
Here is a simple exercise you can do at the beginning of each photoshoot.
Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and relax. Notice the sensation of your breathing and the feeling of your body against the surface you’re sitting or lying on. Prepare to see things as if for the first time when you open your eyes. Prepare to be amazed at the experience of colour entering your eyes.
When you’re ready, gently open your eyes. Notice colours with a sense of wonder. Notice the range of different colours, the shades and hues, the shadows or bright light. Look around, pay attention, and take it all in.
Notice what happens and what you discover when you do these things as if for the first time.