Monday, 30 September 2013

Office stuff

Thursday and Friday of last week were incredibly busy days for me at work. Friday I had a few moments where my eyes could wander off and catch the mundane office stuff. Usually I share a room with a colleague, but she has been away for a few days so I am all by myself. Not so bad, as I'm busy anyway and it gives me the opportunity to take pictures without receiving any comments or weird looks.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Yoga classes

I am so excited, I started giving yoga classes last week. It's only one class a week, but still, it will give me experience and confidence in teaching and I will learn so much from it! I know that already. It's on Monday nights and I teach a class of eight women, most of whom are over 70. They are sweet and funny!
So yesterday I went to Yogisha, a yoga shop in Amsterdam to get some supplies. There was an enormous buddha sitting there and I just couldn't take my eyes of of it. I asked permission to photograph it and that was no problem. I let my eyes go over the statue and took a picture of where they rested.

While in the shop and holding my camera I took some more pictures of yoga props. The shop is located on a busy street, but inside it feels like an oasis to the senses. It's soothing and calming, like yoga.

I find yoga and contemplative photography quite related: both teach being in the moment (there is no other moment), about being non judgmental and being still. I quite enjoy the combination of the two in my life, they've giving me much peace of mind.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Flowers and pattern

I took a couple of pictures yesterday and looking back at them, they screamed a blogpost. I mean, usually I don't go out with a certain intention and yesterday was no different, but I came back with a some impressions that would make a nice theme for a post.

This first picture I took in the Hortus Botanicus. I was walking there slowly and all of sudden this visual came to me, it was simply there for me to enjoy and to capture it by camera.

The other pictures were taken on my way to the grocery store. There are two florists quite close to each other and they both are on the way to the organic shop. After closing time the sidewalk is a feast of leaves, left over flowers and berries.

I enjoyed a while here, taking in this feast and exploring what was there.

Closer to the street there was even a puddle with all the greens and one flower half floating in it.

Effortless Beauty. Interview with Julie DuBose

Below you find an interview with the author of the book Effortless Beauty of which I talked about in yesterday's blogpost. This interview explains so much better than I could ever do about seeing and photography as an expression, that I wanted to share this with you. The interview was published in the Shambala Times.

Acharya Dan Hessey Interviews Julie DuBose

My name is Dan Hessey, and I’m here with Julie DuBose, author of Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind, and Heart. It must be exciting to publish this wonderful book. The photographs are really beautiful and the writing is extraordinary, really clear. When I read it I was inspired to interview you so you could share a little bit of what is in the book as well as your own experience. Your photographs are of very ordinary situations. It’s not like you’re seeing some kind of mountain peak that you’ve never been to. You’re seeing parts of your world that you see every day. This combination of eye, mind, and heart seems to be a very potent chemical compound.

Julie DuBose: Yes it’s very potent. Normally only a small amount of our attention at any given time is focused on something that we see. So if we learn how to bring our complete attention and our sight together so that the mind and the eye are linked like a laser, the vividness and intensity of what is seen is beyond what we normally experience. It can make the experience of seeing the world so direct and fresh that it wakes us up.

Diner Seat 
Dan Hessey: You mentioned in your book that when we really touch the moment, we’re expressing a sense of simplicity with no elaboration. How does that sense of everything happening at once simplify itself?
Julie DuBose: This is the fundamental aspect of seeing that we work to develop from the beginning in this practice. We learn to see one thing at a time in each moment. Instead of combining a bunch of different things together, we simplify what we see. We do exercises and assignments to practice this. First we simplify what our intention is, and then we start to experience mind and eye together, seeing as one. We begin with seeing color, very simply, so that we learn to experience what it’s like when eye and mind are synchronized. We focus our intention on seeing color, and then eye, mind, and color come together, just like that.
We start to experience everything pulling together and being unified. We are beginning to attune ourselves to just one frequency, the frequency of seeing with our eye and mind together as one. That’s what brings immediacy and the vividness to our images.
Until you develop the ability to simplify, you can’t see the whole thing at all. You have be still, open, relaxed, and curious.

Michael in Puddle
In this state of mind, you can see simply and take in larger, more complex visual phenomena quickly. Your vision opens up and you can photograph perceptions that you couldn’t even see before. That’s why you start with simplifying.
Dan Hessey: So you’re not simplifying what you’re seeing, you’re simplifying seeing itself.
Julie DuBose: We’re always working with our minds. We’re not trying to change the environment or make it some way in order to see it. 

Dan Hessey: This reminds me of the meditative experience during shamatha practice or other kinds of meditation, that there is some sort of coming to a more simple, more direct way of experiencing your sense perceptions. Is this way of seeing related to your meditation practice?
Julie DuBose: Very much so. Except that rather than sitting on a cushion in a special place, such as your shrine room, at a special time, you develop the ability to do it on the spot, moment by moment.

Dan Hessey: So that’s kind of exciting that you use this medium of photography as a way of engaging the wider world meditatively.
Julie DuBose: Yes, although I wouldn’t put that kind of label on top of it.
Dan Hessey: Tell me why not? That’s very important.

People On the Steps 
Julie DuBose: Because the dividing line between meditation and post-meditation isn’t actually there. It’s dissolved in this practice. What you do is work to develop your stability of mind in the present moment. First of all, you can’t really have any kind of fresh perceptions unless you’re open and available. So what does that mean? It means you have an intention to connect with your world in an ordinary way. We aren’t talking about going extraordinary places, although that may happen, but much more of this is about when you wake up in the morning. Do you notice the sun coming through the window in the morning and illuminating your sheets and pillows? 

Dan Hessey: How does the discipline and practice of direct seeing actually work?
Julie DuBose: You have the intention to see and you have the ability to be still, and that’s how you can actually do this. It’s because you’re open and available that perceptions can connect with you, out of the blue. Then, when you’re able to notice that a perception has interrupted the stream of your constant mind chatter, you can rest your full attention on what’s stopped you. You look at it deeply and you rest your mind in the experience of seeing.
This is where it’s like meditation. When a thought comes up, you notice that you’re thinking, and you just bring your mind back to the perception. If you notice that your mind has drifted away, you come back. You develop the discipline to come back over and over to the perception, to stay with it. And if you get distracted by doubts such as, “Oh, that would be better,” or, “That would make a better photograph. My friends aren’t going to like this,” and all of that, if you lose the thread of the perception in all that, if you can’t find your way back to it again, then you might as well walk away, because that’s where the freshness is.
You become aware of how your mind is always pulling you away. It always has the impulse to go out and expand and label, and to think. When you involve yourself with these thoughts, you separate yourself from your experience that way.

Dan Hessey: So there’s a lot of trust in our own ability. In your book you said, to express simplicity we have to have confidence that we’re good enough, the world is good enough, and that the world will present itself completely to us.

Woman with Orange Umbrella 

Julie DuBose: It’s a reciprocal relationship. Definitely. The confidence that we’re good enough comes from recognizing our innate ability to see in this way. The more we do it, the more we realize that we’re able to open up. And then the discovery of the world as it is blows our thoughts out of the water. Our thoughts become less interesting to us and there are holes in our projections. Then we start to experience the going out, and the coming in, and the connecting. And it affects us very deeply.
The more we have that kind of genuine experience, that’s not made up or created from some idea, but rather from something that manifests from outside of our realm of control, we start to experience a sense of gratitude and appreciation.
There’s a flow and our heart begins to open. We start to say, “This is who we really are. I thought this and it wasn’t even really true. Reality doesn’t look like that, reality looks like this.” So when you start to trust your own experience, you realize that you’re genuine, you’re wholesome, you have heart, you can connect, you don’t have to be shut off, you don’t have to be worse than everybody else, you don’t have to feel poverty stricken. You have all you need. All you have to do is open up. So that means, “We are good enough.” And of course the other side is that as we discover the world is good enough, we discover that we’re good enough.
Dan Hessey: That sounds like an expression of eye, mind, and heart.

All pictures taken by Julie DuBose.

You can watch the entire video interview on
Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind, and Heart is available at,, and

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book: Effortless Beauty, by Julie DuBose

I've had this book for a while, but never got around to write about it. I guess now is a time as good as any.
In this beautiful book Julie DuBose explains all about true perception: seeing the world fresh and anew. "Seeing simply and completely, without our thoughts continually separating us from the freshness of our experience without the judgements of what is best or right, good or bad, about what we are seeing."
The book contains many clear examples and leads us by the hand into the world of contemplative photography: from Stillness & Intention, Flashes of lightning, to Coming to a full stop and Sad Joy.
I would recommend it to anyone who is aspiring to taking up contemplative photography.

"Follow your pure heart
Let your eye and mind float together as one
in the experience of resting in openness and simplicity
The visual world manifests as Effortless Beauty."

Julie DuBose

Monday, 23 September 2013


It's fun to photograph people that I know, that makes it so much more easier than doing that in the wild. I am still not comfortable taking pictures of strangers, so a little get together or workshop is an ideal situation for me to come close to people and to take a photo of a typical pose or gesture of a person.

My hands. Photo by A. Jessaijan

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Morning mist

I was rather early for work Tuesday morning, so I decided to cycle really slowly. There was a little mist hanging over the grass in the park, it almost stopped my breath. Since I had more time left than I thought, I got off my bike and started walking. I tend to see more when I walk and it gave me time to capture some moments of the early morning, that really fresh feeling when the day has just started and everybody is on his or her way to school or work. It feels good to stand still and to come to a full stop. Just to breath and feel the energy of the morning.

Friday, 20 September 2013


Instagram, everywhere I looked and whatever I read, I read about Instagram. Is this also something I should do, another social site to display my pictures? After reading a couple of articles in Dutch magazine Flow I decided to give it a try. So I made an account and started shooting. I started liking pictures,  became a follower, and others started to follow me. It is exciting on the one hand, but on the other hand I also find that contact is rather fleeting.
I noticed I started taking other kinds of pictures than contemplative ones. I like that it can be an outlet for my other work.
What I also like about it is that you make collages and use filters, I've tried a few. It's being creative in a small way without disturbing my friends on my personal Facebook page. I just don't know yet how to put a link to it on my blog. Can anyone help me out?

BeautifulMess app.

With InstaCollage

BeautifulMess app.
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