Lesson 1 of 0
In Progress

Mindful Photography (Observe)

Trevor September 18, 2023

Thoughts Become Our Experience 

We have touched on the fact that our physical health can be directly linked to our mental state, and this is also linked in reverse. This puts us completely at the mercy of our biology.

Thoughts in your head are not always facts, but an interesting thing happens when you focus your mind on those thoughts. Those thoughts literally become your bodies experience. Your subconscious mind is taking the thoughts you are having in your conscious mind and perceiving them as reality. ”Remember it doesn’t know what is real or fake”. It is then creating the corresponding feeling for those thoughts. Remember your brain and the amygdala. ”If you are perceiving these thoughts as negative, a threat or as incorrect compared to what you prefer”. This causes you stress. You may think these are just thoughts, but by focusing your attention on them, means that your body is also coming along for the ride. 

If we take an example of you sitting at home on your couch in a completely stress free environment, but your mind is focused on a regret from your past or fearful about something that may ‘’or may not’’ happen in your future. This causes stress. Stress is our body reacting to change and is an alert system for our mind to respond to these changes. Focusing your mind on these thoughts causes your body to experience the corresponding feelings.

How you perceive the situations, can cause you to experience fearful thoughts and your brain and body will respond by releasing chemicals and electrical signals that all combine to match the thought and the feeling. This causes your body to go through this fearful event, as if it was happening right now in this exact moment.

F-F-F or Fight, Flee or Freeze

  1. When you are having stressful thoughts, then your subconscious mind doesn’t know if the event is real or imagined. Your ”Amygdala or Negativity Bias” takes over. (This is known as the amygdala highjack). This alerts another part of your brain which is known as ”The Reptilian Brain”. This controls the stress or survival response in your body. It is only interested in your survival and doesn’t care what is really going on.
  2. Your mind and brain tell your body to start releasing chemicals, hormones, and electrical signals which all combine to match how your body is feeling towards these thoughts.
  3. You become more alert, you stop digesting your food, your blood pressure rises, blood flow shifts, your eyes rapidly focus and your muscles tighten. Your body is experiencing something called ‘’fight, flee or freeze mode’’.
  4. This can be subtle or more severe and it is simply preparing you to take the perceived threat head on, to run away from the perceived danger or to freeze so the perceived danger cannot see your movements.
  5. You may be experiencing this, while sitting at home on your couch in a completely stress-free environment. Your thoughts literally become your bodies experience when you focus your mind on them and both your mind & body feel all the effects of this. Safe to say this isn’t good for your mental or physical health.

The fight, flight or freeze response is often referred to as fear, stress or anxiety. This is triggered throughout our day and in many ways.


Observation involves looking beyond the surface to perceive the subtle details that many might overlook. This quality of attentiveness and conscious thinking can deepen your understanding of the world around you, enhance your creativity and cultivate feelings of wonder and curiosity. In mindful photography, we are paying attention to what is happening around us, while also paying attention to what is happening inside of us as we experience the world in this new present and non judgemental way. We have talked a lot about perception and perceiving…..

What is Perception? 

Perception is the mental faculty we possess that enables us to assign meaning to everything that we experience.

This meaning is first developed by how we interpret things through our senses.

”A tree just exists and it isn’t a tree until we label it as a tree. The only reason we call it a tree, is because someone else told us thats what its called. But what makes it a tree? Is it the tree or the person who called it a tree?”

Nothing has meaning in itself. No situation, no action, no comment, no circumstance, no experience. Nothing has meaning.  Everything is just neutral and simply exists or happens. The only meaning something really has is the meaning we give to it, which is based on our perception at that time.

Perception is our interpretation of what influences us. In other words“Our perception is our reality”. No two people can have the exact same perception. This is what makes us all unique individuals. 

  • If we look at a situation that occurs. The situation happens and we then develop our perception of the situation based on our interpretation of the experience.
  • Our senses take the experience and covert it to language. We ask ourselves a question, give ourselves and answer and that is how we develop meaning for the situation.
  • Any reaction we have is never really about the situation. It is about our perception of the situation. It is always a reaction caused by something within us.

Things such as our beliefs, values, needs, expectations and past experiences combine to influence our perception of what is going on in the moment and we respond or react depending on how we ”SEE” or perceive the situation to be. This is how we develop meaning.

Perception can be a choice – If we take a moment to simply pause, observe and accept experiences for what they are without judgment, we will actually be able to choose how we would really like to see, react or respond to the moment.

Outside Influences

Influences like money, other people, culture, workplaces, society, family, religion, politics and education can sometimes take their toll and shape us to think in certain ways or influence us to adopt certain perceptions.

‘’Something is usually perceived as right or wrong, good or bad and people follow their way, while not really being open to other ways, simply because it isn’t the same as theirs’’.

This thinking can make people narrow down their perception to one definite answer each and every time. To the person who the answer belongs to, it is perceived as right or good, and they believe it while perceiving others as wrong or bad.

This type of thinking can also be majorly influenced by media and social media these days. These things can be great if we accept them for what they really are. These are simply people sharing their own perception of their experiences and that is perfectly ok. They have their own agenda and are telling us what they believe is going on for them. That is just the meaning that they have developed. Their perception doesn’t have to be yours.

” This course is just my perception of what I have learned on my journey and I hope you will take whats here and develop your own meaning from it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure ”

Trevor O’Donoghue

The most important point to note here, is that your entitled to your own perception. It is also perfectly ok for you to change your perception at any stage. You can do this by broadening your awareness and becoming more comfortable with yourself in your experiences.

There does not need to be a right, a wrong, a good or a bad. Good stuff can comes from bad experiences and bad stuff can come from good experiences. So this means that things just are what they are and there may be no need to label them all the time.

So if there is so called good and so called bad in every single experience that we have. Then it is up to you to choose what you would like to focus your attention on.

How I am has nothing to do with other people. I choose my way. I don’t look to others for happiness. I don’t give them the privilege of my anger or my reaction. What I do is about me and that is freedom.

  • Sadhguru

Perception in Photography

In your practice, when you take or when you look back at a photograph, you understand that the photograph first originated as a thought inside of your mind created by your senses. Whether you are looking with your eyes or looking through your camera, what you are seeing in front of you is all actually happening in your mind first. You look and focus with your eyes or your camera and photograph your perception of the experience you are having in that moment.

What is a picture? A picture is your perception of the experience you are having, which is captured in the present moment and is full of thoughts, feelings and actions.

You can take a picture with your camera or have a moment and take a mental picture. They are both helping you create memories that you will remember forever.

”A camera is a save button for the minds eye”

Roger Kingston

Your Full Experience

Everything is experienced through your senses, this creates a thought in your mind. Your thoughts are determined by your perception of the experience you are having and you then take action depending on how you are feeling in that moment. This is how you develop meaning from your experiences.

Acceptance and Non-Judgement are very important tools to expand your perception. These are both core features of this practice. Use your camera to explore different perceptions with your pictures and in your life.

How are you perceiving stuff?

Glass Half Full or Half Empty ?