Until only a few weekends ago I had never even turned the dial of my camera (I use a Sony A7 III) to the video function. I think the reason for that is because I’ve always perceived the video medium to be technically challenging and huge in scope. But, perhaps it’s purely because videos compared to photography is so much more than just taking a good photo. It’s storytelling, it’s lighting, it’s audio, and it’s a far more extensive post-production commitment if you want to do it well. A software or app preset defined by a mathematical formula is simply not going to do the job for video — and definitely not in batches.
For all of those reasons, plus many more I’m not aware of, producing videos and more specifically films, is something I’ve admired by those who make them for a living — be it a humble YouTuber to Terrence Malick. As I’ve found out this week the effort and creativity required in filmmaking is exponentially greater than that of photography (apologies to any photographers out there).
On the note of storytelling and videos, more recently I’ve been thinking about what a visually aesthetic mindfulness video — or film — could look like. What I find within this branch of self-care is that most content servings focus on the stance of therapy or perpetuate an overly motivational theme through the curation of quotes or pseudoscientific thought-pieces. No surprise, neither approach speaks to me, and instead I just find them to be offensive distractions.
If I were to come up with a style-guide for what conscious content I would like to see more of, it would consist of well-produced videos which do not explicitly tell me what to do or how to feel — instead they would show me. I think it’s important for viewers, and thus mindfulness participants, to come up with their own interpretations about a technique or concept (after the basics) because we each have our own nuances and a one-size-fits-all approach might be disrespectful.
I really enjoy what Max and Tom over at District Vision (New York City) are doing, intersecting their eyewear brand (made for runners and athletes) with the practice of mindfulness, through highly evocative imagery and non-pretentious audio recordings. Then there’s meditation practitioners like Manoj Dias of A—Space meditation studio in Melbourne (he’s also on the Insight Timer app) who bridges mindfulness with: culture, political opinions, and (importantly) religious context, to give you a taste of what mindfulness should look like in ordinary-everyday life. Mindfulness content need not be about motivational one-liners, cliché subcultures, or one’s tool for self-advancement — it just needs to get to the point and offer calm.
And a few weeks ago I took a holiday — from my holiday — to create a moment of respite and explore this very idea surrounding conscious media content. I decided to head south, and take a train to Switzerland because I find they operate a little slower than the rest of Europe. Ironically I was in Switzerland the same time last year, but this time around the weather was a stark contrast — wet and cool — and hardly any sign of an impending indian summer. Instead the temperate conditions made for ideal reading time overlooking lush Swiss greenery, daily walks to the lakes, and exploring that video setting on my camera’s dial. Enjoy.