In Eyes of the Heart - the author Christine Valters Paintner introduces an old discipline of Visio Divina to the modern world of Photography and in particular to our own photography. Sometimes called sacred seeing Visio Divina is an ancient form of contemplative prayer linked to Lecto Divina. In the latter those taking part will read, listen and contemplate on a written passage of scripture to hear what God is saying to them on that occasion. With the Visio version an image is used instead of or as well as a passage. In both cases it’s key to open our minds to God in these times of reflection.
Paintner takes this Visio Divina practice and applies it to our our photography. Out goes the scriptural linkage that comes with Lecto Divina and in comes the opportunity to mediate on a situation that we have experienced. The image is the tool to recall and revisit that moment and walk through it in our minds eye relying on visual senses, feelings and associations.
There are a couple of options practically here. The first is to use smartphone to both capture and display an image, for instance taken on a walk. The second is print a copy of a image. I think it’s important to have something to hold that’s large enough to appreciate most of the details in it. I find images that are partially obscured though mist, fog or selective focus work the best as they give the mind a place to be creative.
Clearing your mind and mediating on such images has a wonderfully calming effect but it takes a discipline to wait. I allow my mind to work though the image, the visual elements and their relationships to each other, but also remembering what it felt like when I made the image, the feeling of the air and the sounds associated. These all bring me into the moment and allow me to walk around the image in my minds eye.
For those that seek the connection to the Divine through this process there can be associations and insights from the image that come out in reflection providing important ‘take aways’ from the process. That is, in a nutshell Visio Divina, but Paintner goes into much more detail, her book and other internet resources are worth a look.