If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, what are the photos you share saying about you? Instagram is a powerful tool for sharing with others how you see the world. As with most social media, it's become all too easy to crank out snapshot after snapshot without second thought. But what's amazing about this medium is that each picture instantly becomes a shared bookmark to the past.
Use this meditative visualization exercise to reflect upon the value of these reference points while improving the clarity of your creative third eye.
1. Find a comfortable seated position.
You should be ready to focus on something else besides your back hurting or legs falling asleep. If you travel a lot like I do, you’ll find this is the perfect way to make the most of the time while in transit (as long as you're driving, of course). Smart phones may work better than tablets, as you can easily cradle them with interlaced fingers. A long, slow, deep breath is a great container to set up clear space between all the crazy we normally deal with and all the crazy that will still be there when we’re done.
2. Fire up Instagram & randomly select a photo.
I usually go for the older ones. If you use Instagram a lot, you’ll have to scroll back with a few swipes. Bonus points if you can do this without looking. The surprise can be nice.
3. Observe the picture for one minute.
Blink as little as possible. For the first few moments, focus your eyes on the center and just take in colors and shapes. Try not to read into the story. After 30 seconds, let your eyes wander around the image, following whatever path they choose. Try to see the photo as if someone else took it.
4. Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath and exhale. This is where it starts to get good.
5. Recreate the moment.
Try to remember what life was when that picture was taken with some WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHENs:
- Where did you take it?
- What shoes were you wearing?
- Was it cold?
- What did the air smell like?
- Who were you with?
- Where were you going?
- Did that coffee taste as good as it looked?
- How long did you hold the handstand?
- What happened after the sun went down?
6. Observe what comes up.
Explore HOW and WHY. How does seeing this image make you feel? Why do you feel that way?
7. Marinate and meditate.
Take as long as you want to reflect. Maintain smooth, long, and easy breaths. When you’re done exploring the bookmark, take a full inhale though your nose and sigh the exhale out as you open your eyes.
8. Take another look.
You might see the photo in a completely new light. If given the chance, would you have taken the same picture? Where do you feel satisfaction? What would you do differently?
Obviously, this isn’t limited to just Instagram. You can try similar mindful visualization exercises with all of your social media sites, including Facebook updates and whatever people use Google+ for.
At the very least, it never hurts to take a few moments to reflect on the things you believe to be beautiful and interesting. One of the most important keys to taking better pictures is knowing what you like to see. Use this mindful visualization process to constantly refine not just how you see the world around you, but how the world sees you back.
What do your pictures say about you? Share some thoughts about the last photo you took in the comments below.