Mindfulness in contemplative photography is a very popular concept and technique. However, its meaning has significantly departed from the original Buddhist roots. What we see is a new brand of mindfulness that has resulted in the commercialization of meditation through self-help techniques, guided meditation classes, and mindfulness retreats. The rise of the mindfulness culture here in the West has created programs and practices that are used now in all walks of life. They have become very popular because they reinforce the sense of ‘self’ or ‘I’ – they bolster and support it. Their aim is not the liberation of the self.
The Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa would call this new commodity of mindfulness an expression of spiritual materialism.
From a spiritual point of view mindfulness is seen very differently. In the Buddhist tradition it means just the opposite and is not a technique. It aims at weakening the importance of the self rather than trying to assert or improve it. The letting go of the self is seen as liberation, a liberation from the tyranny of the ego. How does this liberation manifest itself ? It happens when we are one with whatever is in front of us, when past and future are absent from our mind. This liberation is also the mark of creativity.