Connect with Medicine Horses. Photograph your experience.
Look at these magnificent animals through the viewfinder of your camera. Frame a composition that conveys a strong meaning. Capture a beautiful moment or a captivating sequence. Shoot from the hip, or wait an hour for the perfect moment.
Events held at Chiron Holistics (Coombs) and Of the Sun Sanctuary (Cedar)
WHAT IS MEDITATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY
Meditative photography is a practice of visually experiencing the present moment and engaging in the act of photographing with your heart and mind aligned. Rather than a genre or a particular visual style, meditative photography is a mindful, holistic approach to both the medium, the subject, and the creative process
A meditating photographer connects with the soul, and translates the conversation into an image.
This approach to photography seeks the truth and the message. It doesn't require the picturesque and perfect to make the image speak to the soul. A meditative state suspends any need to measure, control or judge. It allows more space for your intuition to follow a vision and capture it when the timing is right.
Medicine horses are excellent partners in meditative photo sessions. As prey animals horses are both visual communicators and natural meditators, engaging in mutual energy balancing sessions in order to harmonize the herd and be better able to sense disruptive frequencies of predators. They base their communication and survival on their ability to convey and perceive images, silently and subtly. But through images they also share emotions, ideas, and wisdom.
WHAT WE WILL DO
We will connect with the land and ourselves
The workshop's duration is 2 hours.
First 15 minutes is dedicated to a quick greeting, safety rules briefing, and some grounding exercises for everyone in the group to harmonize with the land.
I will have connected with you personally beforehand, and it will be entirely up to you whether you wish to introduce yourself to the group. There will be no talking rounds as I encourage everyone to turn inward
The photography portion will take up at least 11/2 hour during which we will roam freely with the horses in the pasture, and capture magic.
Photo above: Zadia greets Hilary, a regular visitor to The Valley Of Miracles. The two have a very soft bond, and encourage one another on their respective life paths
Meeting the horses
We will meet and connect with the horses. This connection can have a physical basis (through our five physical senses), or it can occur on an emotional, mental, spiritual or other energetic level.
Some of you will have experience interacting with these horses, while others will be meeting them for the first time. I will hold space for all of you, and do my best to assist you with your process.
When you are in a meditative, receptive state, the horses will notice and most likely join you. By meditating with you, they will balance your energy and entrain you into their herd.
Photo above: A participant during a Meditative Photography Workshop at Chiron Holistics. Standing with Sorento and Belle
THINGS YOU CAN PHOTOGRAPH
Observe equine behaviour
Belle and Flaire often stand and meditate close to one another in soft afternoon sunlight. Horses do not tend to touch one another, so standing side by side in close proximity could be considered an equivalent of snuggling.
Follow the herd dynamics
Belle and Flaire grazing on their way to the lounge corner. Synchronized movement and behaviour shows a high level of connection and contentment with one another's presence. Eating together translates as all is well.
Find a story
The Chiron Herd is perfecting their mirror formations. Sorento and Flaire are resting on the ground while Apollo and Belle are holding nurturing space and watching over them, forming a sacred geometry pattern.
Study the energy processes within the herd
The workshop is an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourself with the various ways horses "move" or "balance" energy within themselves and the herd. For example, this photo depicts Zadia and Tia yawning to release processed energy after our impromptu medicine horse session, while Shasta has already finished her release and contently stands with me. Other common examples are licking and chewing, synchronized movement, or one horse moving another around the space.
Witness the bond forming between horses and humans
Although you'll be encouraged to "turn inward" and practice self-discovery, it is often fascinating to watch when horses choose to interact with certain people. How they approach them or how they allow to be approach. What they sense in those humans and how they engage or assist with it. You might feel drawn to a particular horse or horses as well. Listen to your intuition and remember, this workshop is about experiencing true immersion and becoming one with your environment.
Photographing horses gives you the advantage of being supported without being judged for your process or results. Horses allow you to relax into photographing almost automatically. The camera becomes an extension of your body, of your eye and mind; something that you will be able to use intuitively, without putting much thought into it.
Connect with a horse and engage in visual communication
When Sorento and I were getting to know one another in 2016, he was polite enough to let me take pictures of him. But he always had either an apprehensive or cautiously tolerant look in his face. Until one glorious November morning when he leaned into a pose in the rising sun.
Or let the landscape speak to you.
Play with abstraction, catch lens flares, orbs, silhouettes or other light codes, explore other fauna and flora on the property, wander the landscape, hug a tree, look for unexpected shapes, and invite lucky captures. Nature is constant creation.
Continue to let go of your expectations
Be open to what the herd, the land and nature offers to you. A meditative photo story rarely unfolds the way you expect. Focus on being receptive or channeling rather than projecting.
THINGS TO REMEMBER DURING THE SESSION
Breathe. Stay grounded.
Feel free to ask for assistance or suggestions on simple breath exercises, grounding techniques, visualizations or tools to bring yourself back to a present state. Breathing also helps you harmonize with the herd
Be mindful of your safety
Horses are prey animals and may spook or move unexpectedly. Keep in mind the safety rules discussed before the session.
If you feel unsafe at any point, don't hesitate to ask for assistance.
Photo left: Tia Jewel tunes into a participant's energy during a photo session
Your camera. Anything goes: digital, film, polaroid, or disposable! A professional DSLR, a handy point-and-shoot, an iPhone camera, or a home-assembled lens. Whatever works for you.
At least some amount of photography experience and good knowledge of your camera functions. This workshop is designed to explore a subject and hone your skills rather than to teach the technical fundamentals.
Weatherproof gear. Bring a rain coat, mud-proof shoes (or rubber boots for maximum range of exploration.) Wear clothes you’re comfortable getting dirty.
In winter, overdress with abandon. Wear more layers than you think you'll need, and bring extra and a change of clothes. Two plus hours meditating out in the field will make you feel the weather to your bones. Bring a thermos with a warming drink.
In summer, wear loose, light, but durable clothes, sun protection, and extra water to drink.
Closed-toe footwear is mandatory year-round.
Photo left: Me rolling around in the snow to get the best angle of Zadia in The Valley Of Miracles (credit: Marian van der Zon)
Prepare your gear the day before
Charge your camera battery, and bring a spare one if possible.
Make enough room on your memory cards/phones. Pack extra memory cards or storage devices if possible.
Prepare weather protection for your cameras. If you do not have rain/dust proof cases, an adjusted ziplock bag will provide a shield for your gear just as efficiently.
If you have little photography experience, familiarize yourself with your camera settings.
Read your camera manual
Set your camera/phone camera to a mode that is easy for you to use.
Make sure all your equipment works.
Wipe the lense(s), viewfinder and display
Photo right: Shasta and I during a meditation workshop in The Valley of Miracles
Please, do not bring to the field:
Food or horse treats. Feel free to have a snack while we're gathering, but do not bring any food to the pasture. If you wish to bring something for the horses, we gratefully accept gifts during gathering or after the workshop , and add the treats to the herd's dinner.
Photo left: Zadia and Tia share a bite of hay at breakfast
RESOURCES FOR VISUAL EXERCISES
Detail of Tia Jewel's back covered in snow. The Valley Of Miracles in the background.
Catching the light play in The Valley while using perspective and depth of field to create a rich, layered, and diverse texture.
Out of focus blades of grass juxtaposed with the barn wall. The window where Marian bonds with Tia disrupts and accentuates the linear pattern at the same time.
A horse's coat soaked in the rain turns into a regular repetition of shape and shade.
Examples of texture and pattern working together
Visualization tools for grounding exercises
Energy centers in and outside of human physical body
Human spiral of energy
Pillar of Light exercise