'Lie down and close your eyes. Relax. Just breathe. Listen...'
There is a space between stillness and movement where the dance lives. I try to photograph it. The flow of this dance is the life of your soul. It is the expression of your consciousness before it is filtered by your mind, baffled by your thoughts and muddled in the tightness of your body. In this initial flow, you know the joy of freedom, you are the very spark of creation, you revel in the delicious delight of the new. Here, you have no opinions, no judgments, no preconceptions, no language. The purity of this expression is exquisite. Yet how often do we tap into it? How many of us can say we live from it? How might we even try?
Well these are the questions that have always fascinated me, which is why I find it so heartening that the fledgling conscious revolution is upon us, paving the way for a more mindful and authentic approach to life. I was recently at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco where the leading lights of the conscious business movement rub shoulders with the technology gurus of Silicon Valley. There, people are finding new ways to combine consciousness with technology and business (another of my passions). The conversations being had are indeed revolutionary. But, as an artist, I want to know what happens when we explore portraiture from the conscious perspective? What happens when we combine meditation with photography?
I call my work Soul Portraits not because I have discovered a way to take a picture of your soul but because I am engaged, engrossed and captivated by the process of capturing you in your purest soul expression. I have no interest in seeing you pout. You will not need a makeup brush or a hair stylist. Just arrive at the studio with an open mind, close your eyes, lie down and lets just listen for a while. Typically I take no pictures for at least the first 20 minutes. The work here is simply about meditative connection. Listening. Calling Forward. Making myself fully available to witness.
I am convinced that listening is the most underused and misunderstood skill on our planet. It is only through developing a craft of deep listening, through a practice of stillness such as mindfulness meditation, that it becomes possible to welcome the more subtle channels of information, such as the 'inner voice', into our conscious awareness. If you have such a practice already, when you next take your seat, ask yourself internally, 'How quiet do I have to be, to hear the movement of my soul?'. That is what I ask myself when I sit with you, before I pick up my camera. 'How quiet do I have to get inside, to hear the movement of your soul?'
'What will it feel like...?'
It is hard not to feel a pang of sadness when a subject asks, 'What will soul expression feel like?' The question is as valid as it is tragic. Soul expression should be the norm, not the exceptional. It should be the known, not the forgotten. So what will it feel like? The truth is you know exactly how. You feel it when you slip into the arms of a loved one, when you walk through the door to home after a long journey, you feel it when you lay on the grass and stare at the stars. Whenever you feel awe, gratitude, peace and freedom you are aligning with the dance of your deepest consciousness. That is what I hope to witness through the lens of my camera, through the lens of my soul.
When we marvel at the lightness and brightness of young children we recall our own capacities for freedom and jubilance in our tender years. So how come we are now terrified of it? Perhaps it is not so surprising. Marianne Williamson says, "It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." At some point in our development we learn ways of becoming appropriate, we turn down the light, we dim our brightness. We start to live to please others and present only our game-face to the world. Sometimes we might even forget we ever knew true joy.
Yet, below the surface of our pretense, the movement of the soul lives on, unheard. Present but forgotten. We must remind ourselves that we can access the soul at any time by becoming truly quiet. By clearing our listening until it becomes content-free. We must sit in spacious awareness of our self. That is when the soul can finally speak, as only when the listening presents itself can the soul move forward into that space to be heard. The soul loves to speak. The soul loves to move. The soul loves to dance.
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To view Neil Seligman's entry for the 2014 Celeste Art Prize please click here.