Philosophy & ApproachMaking mindfulness accessible
SOULFUL VISION was born out of Steve Radley’s experience of healing as a military veteran of Iraq & Afghanistan, alongside his training as a Priest and as a Photographer.
Is Mindfulness any good?
We read a lot about the benefits of MINDFULNESS but chatting to people I discovered lots of us find it seems strange – and not ‘my sort of thing’. It can feel quite inaccessible with all its talk of focusing on our breathing, letting go of our thinking and centring in the moment.
I first came across MINDFULNESS whilst studying psychiatry at King’s College London and there can be no disputing the research – it’s good for us and is an ancient practice modern society has rediscovered. But I know what my folks mean – it can feel hard to do – because – well let’s face it, we have lots of things competing for our attention and our minds seem to be wired to keep thoughts tumbling around inside.
Making Mindfulness accessible
Through my photography training I realised photography is a really easy way into mindfulness. And this creates a wonderful possibility – we’re all talking pictures on our phones, so rather than teaching something completely new, we can simply adapt something we already do to access the benefits of mindfulness.
SOULFUL VISION retreats and workshops take your photography (whether with a smartphone or camera) and help you discover how this can become a mindful activity, helping you find moments of calm within the demands of modern life.
Why SOULFUL VISION is different
There are many excellent wellbeing courses and providers but many of the techniques taught are premised on self-care (eg. time management, boundary setting, kind non-judgemental thinking, etc). This is important but I believe it can only form part of the answer. There is a danger when the focus is purely self-care, that we can feel we have failed if we struggle in our life – that we are not resilient.
For me the process of taking a picture can be both an activity of self-care and care for one another. This creates environments and cultures in which we can find resilience together, finding peace and enabling us to thrive in life.
Contemplative Photography is different
As well as mindful-photography, we show ways you can share your images with others, focusing on what we see and also what we feel look at an image. This enables us to share something of our self, our vision, our hopes and fears. By facilitating conversations with one another I hope to create shared vision and understanding through which we help strengthen not only our own, but one another’s resilience and mental health. One writer on wellbeing called this a ‘virtuous circle of kindness’.
Our cameras and the pictures we regularly take, can be harnessed to help keep us mentally and spiritually fit and strengthen our relationships. My workshops are premised on the 5 Steps to Wellbeing, which is an approach endorsed by the NHS and described below
Our workshops and retreats do not focus primarily on the technical aspects of photography. Steve can help if you get stuck, but modern phones and cameras do a lot of that work for us. All you require is a camera you can use and an open mind to try.
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The 5 Steps to Wellbeing
Evidence suggests that feeling close to and valued by others is an important human need.
Our workshops bring people together in a relaxed and affirming atmosphere. No technical critique of photos is allowed, rather we see each image as a gift allowing us to learn about ourselves and others.
Exercise is linked to good mental health.
Our workshops encourage you to be active within your own limits, using mindful walking to connect with your environment.
If you cannot get out of your house don’t worry, our activities will encourage you to be active within your home.
We rush through life, getting the children ready for school, running for the bus, working through the pile of paper on our desk – we don’t have time to notice the beauty around us.
Research has shown that when we ‘take time’ to notice what is happening around us our wellbeing is enhanced and and our life priorities are reaffirmed.
We think we need lots of time to ‘take notice but we teach you some basic photography skills around seeing light which help us slow down and take notice. You’ll find it only takes a moment and is incorporated into your daily activities – no sitting crossed legged for an hour or more! A moment is all you need to pause.
Learning can enhance our self-esteem and encourage us to be more active in life.
You will learn about contemplative photography and mindfulness on our workshops. More importantly you will learn about yourself, one another (family, friends and work colleagues) and our interconnectedness with nature.
The nine principles of mindfulness are: non-judging; patience; a beginners mind; trust; non-striving; acceptance; letting-go; gratitude; generosity.
According to the mental health charity Mind, ‘individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy.’
Central to our workshops is sharing your images with each other. Image can reveal lots about us, our hopes, dreams and fears.
Through this process we reveal something of our self and learn about one another. The gift we bring is acceptance and a listening ear which can help us all thrive in life.
Blank to keep others closed
Do I need to be a good photographer?
No. Modern cameras take great pictures all on their own. Our focus is not on the technical side of photography (although Steve will help if you get stuck) but rather we focus on how we see and being truly present to the things in front of us which we often miss in the busyness of life. Whist we welcome keen photographers onto our workshops, if you like taking pictures on your phone and perhaps sharing them with friends or on social media, you are more than qualified to attend one of our workshops and we would love to see you there.
Do you work in the public and corporate sectors?
Yes. We believe our approach has huge benefits for teams and we can provide a dedicated workshop for your place of work. The visual exercises we do help us realise how we all see and approach things differently. This can promote a better understanding of our colleagues, allows problems to be viewed from different perspectives and can build team cohesion which can lead to greater productivity and staff wellbeing.
Does this help with anxiety or depression?
Possibly. We all get unwell at times whether that is a mental illness or physical illnesses. It’s really important you see your doctor if you are unwell as there are many treatments available. There is a lot of research linking mindfulness to better health so our workshops should help you maintain better mental and emotional health. We are not an alternative to recognised treatments but we do hope we are complimentary to them. If in doubt chat to your doctor about attending one of our workshops.
Is this art therapy?
No. Art therapy is practiced by registered practitioners, often working in mental health centres. There is a lot of research on the health benefits of mindfulness. Our approach helps make mindfulness accessible by showing you how to use the camera you carry around in your smartphone (or a normal camera) to centre in the moment for brief periods throughout your day.
Will I become a better photographer?
This is not the aim of our workshops but people are often surprised to find they take better pictures. By helping you slow down you will see in new ways, and how we see is an important part of photography.