A Mind Full of Photo Walks

Recently, we created an online community across Instagram and Twitter to encourage others to engage with both photography and mindfulness to make attempts at improving their overall mental health and wellbeing.

Ill mental health can be debilitating and have a tremendous impact on a persons’ quality of life. Even to the point where breathing hurts and the thought of leaving the confines of the prison-like walls of your home is a hard enough task. One of the outlets that are recommended to ease the difficulty is to practice mindfulness. This term is used frequently but what does Mindfulness really entail?

Mindfulness, by definition, is a technique that requires maintaining awareness of your thoughts, moment by moment. The aim of it is to keep your full attention on the things that are happening in the present moment. The use of your senses is a vital tool when practicing this technique. By keeping yourself in the present, you need to have an awareness of what you can see, hear, smell, touch or even taste in the environment you’re in.

The key word here being present. Something of which anyone subject to PTSD or C-PTSD will find themselves struggling as the condition drags you back into the past. It is also something that has been proved to be of benefit to anyone suffering from physical pain, anxiety, depression, stress, exhaustion. Anytime that much needed time out is required, it is a technique that can be used. It certainly isn’t something that requires anyone to feel ashamed of using, nor is it only designed to be used for if and when you’re struggling with your mental health.

So why have we combined the use of Mindfulness with Photography you ask? A recent study has shown that creative individuals are more likely to have some form of difficulty with their mental health at some stage in their life. The main reason is still unknown, it could just be that if your suffering from ill mental health, you’re more drawn to a creative outlet than someone who is not. Or it could be that creatives face more social isolation than a non-creative as a result of the way society chooses to work in today’s age. It just made a lot of sense combing a creative outlet with a technique that is known to help. Through our own experiences, we found taking ourselves out on a walk to practice mindfulness left our hands craving the need to do something productive. Seen as these days the majority of people have easy access to the camera on their phones, it is a useful way of having that ability to be creative and keep your hands busy, all whilst practicing Mindfulness.

You can get involved with and follow A Mind Full of Photo walks on both Twitter and Instagram.

A Mind Full of Photo Walks (Instagram)

Mindful Photo (Twitter)

Being open about traumatic events is not attention seeking.

Surviving horrific events such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assaults and sexual harassment is difficult enough. Yet the survivors who choose to speak out are often labelled as ‘attention seekers’.

This doesn’t change, regardless of the survivors status. From everyday people to those who are in the public eye. Even at times, the #metoo campaign was regarded as attention seeking. A-list celebrities were accused of using it as an opportunity to put themselves back into the limelight. From my own experience, I have found that time and time again, others would rather silence me or change the subject when I choose to speak up.

Yet what others do not seem to understand is that speaking out is essential. Not only is it important for those who lack the understanding to learn about the realities of these ordeals, in order to prevent it from happening to their loved ones, it also plays a vital role in a survivors recovery. For example one of the adversities that I faced was growing up with Domestic Violence. Ending up barricaded in a room to stay safe was a normal occurrence in everyday life. I learned to fear dominant men and came to the false conclusion that the behaviour my father exhibited was exactly how a father was supposed to be. They were to be feared and it was expected that they would cause harm to you. It never even dawned on me that this was not how everyone else spent their time at home. Not until recent years at least.

Children are a product of their environments. They learn from your teachings and the world around them. Those who grew up not knowing any other way of life, usually go one of two ways. One is to retract into themselves and deny that the abuse ever occurred. The other is to be curious and confused about why their upbringing was so different to their peers. They tend to question their own beliefs and the world around them. If this upbringing was so wrong and a violation of one’s human rights, then why did nobody step in? Why were they left to live those so important formative years in terror and in fear? Even bouts of jealousy occur. Why didn’t anyone else have to live through this? Why weren’t we entitled to a childhood like everyone else? You are haunted by that one word… Why? It’s a word you learn to hate. Everything about what you’ve experienced will always lead you back to why.

This is part of the reason why survivors chose to speak up. They’re not asking for your pity or for you to feel sorry for them. What happened can not be changed but there will be long-lasting damage. All a survivor wants to do is understand. Yet this society we live in denies them of that by silencing them. Surely by silencing a survivor, you are just as bad as their abusers? It is still a controlling hold over them. These topics should not be a taboo anymore. It happens to way too many people for it to be one. Yet public response is to victim blame or ignore the voices that are so desperately trying to be heard.

This society needs to listen to survivors. For a society, so advance, it is so far behind in these horrific social issues. Their voices are a tool that can provide understanding and education. They have experienced the unimaginable. Rather than treating a survivor as an outsider, why is society not listening and taking their experiences onboard? It could change so much. Schools and employers could be shown what to look out for that is not based on outdated information, the authorities would learn how to handle these situations with more compassion and understanding, tougher sentences could be enforced. And maybe if attitudes towards survivors change, more survivors will come forward to report crimes or they might even have the courage to leave their abusers sooner. You never know, this education might just save a life.