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Mindful Photography (Don’t Judge)

Trevor September 18, 2023

Don’t Judge

To practice non-judgment is to experience thoughts, feelings and experiences you are having without labelling them as “good” or “bad, ”positive” or negative”. It is the acceptance of what is, without any need to judge, change or control it. This can be with people, places or a variety of different experiences you have.

We do not really know what is good or bad for us at any time. Positive things happen in perceived bad experiences and negative thing happen in perceived good experiences. Even though this is the case, we can often be guilty of labelling things as good, bad, right, wrong, positive or negative. This is because our brain has evolved as a survival engine and it is biased towards anything we perceive as negative or bad in our life, because it simply sees anything that is negative or bad as dangerous. We rapidly focus on them and our mind and body responds accordingly.

On average, we have around 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day. 95% of those thoughts being the same as the day before and around 80% of them would be classified as a negative thought. It is much easier than you would think to fall into a negative thought pattern. Not judging can lead to greater inner peace and contentment.

Photo credit @awkwardyeti – View

Why Do We Judge?

Nobody is perfect and we all slip with our thoughts from time to time. This is perfectly normal and not a big deal. If you do find it very difficult to be present or positive, stick with it and I will tell you a little about why this may be happening. Remember above we explained how we see everything as a language. We ask ourselves a question, give ourselves an answer and that is how we develop meaning for things we experience.

The negativity bias of our brain is an almond shaped area called the Amygdala. We have two of them. One located in either side of our brain. The amygdalae’s job is to keep us and others around us safe and it is very resistant to any type of change.

It is located in a part of the brain where we store emotions, evaluate threats, trigger survival instincts and store past memories. Because of this region, our brain has become biased towards any thing that we perceive as negativity or things that we believe are incorrect. It responds by rapidly focusing on it. This is because it perceives them as some form of threat or danger. Our minds have evolved to consistently evaluate these types of threats in our lives throughout prehistory.

Prehistoric peoples lives were shaped around fighting to survive. Due to this, they constantly needed to be on high alert and scanning their environment for possible threats. Back then dangers could come from predators of all sorts and even other people, when survival needs were limited. These pre historic people were confronted with much different situations than what people experience in today’s modern world, but this is something that still remains in all our brains today.

We now live in a world that is filled with distractions and addictions that wreak havoc on our minds. ”Social media, smart devices, entertainment apps, consumerism and just a complete overload of news, advertising and information. Following and looking at people online who are only sharing picture perfect moments in the highlight reels of their lives on social media. Everyone experiences many low points at one point or another. Its part of life. Focusing on happiness is not just about looking for the positives, its about excepting and pre concieved negatives without judgement. Understanding it is just the journey of life”.

Everyday Tips :- You can cultivate non-judgment in your daily life by becoming aware of when you are making judgments. Notice when you label something as good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable. Instead of automatically accepting these judgments, pause and consider whether they are truly helpful or necessary. By not criticising or judging yourself or others, you are opening up to accepting who you are and what is around you. Replace any judgements you may have in your life with curiosity and ask questions. We are all different and everyone’s viewpoint is valid to them so don’t waste time or energy trying to prove yourself or aiming to disprove others.

With Your Camera

In photography, non-judgment can involve viewing each shot as it is, rather than comparing it to others. We are not working towards some imagined ideal, so we are not looking through our pictures until after we practice. This frees you to take risks, try new things, and develop your unique style. When you view your photos afterwards, try to do so with an open mind, focusing on how it makes you feel rather than whether they match up to a certain standard.

Maybe try taking some photos without any intention of sharing them or even keeping them. This can help you let go of the need for approval and focus instead on the joy of capturing images. After each shoot, take some time to review your photos with an open mind, appreciating each one for what it is rather than what it might have been.

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

Ansel Adams

This quote perfectly resonates with the concept of non-judgement in photography, reminding us that there’s no universal standard of a “good” photo; it’s all about the story and emotions an image portrays.