“In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors’ answers — surprising, poignant, funny — became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What’s your answer?)

Candy Chang creates art that prompts people to think about their secrets, wishes and hopes — and then share them. She is a TED Senior Fellow.”

Watch more creativity videos here.

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Our bodies, the vessels that carry us through life, are miracles of engineering to be marveled at and provide us gateways to both our minds and our emotions. For much of our daily lives we are unconscious of our bodies. When we do become aware of our bodies, our awareness is usually highly selective, often focused only in the presence of heightened pleasure or pain, either physical or psychological. Body images, both self-imposed and inherited, often lead us to judge, either inflating or repressing our direct experiences of our bodies. Developing greater body awareness helps reduce these tendencies and increase our understanding of and appreciation for our bodies as a single harmonious system. Tune in to the miracle that is your body.

Try this meditation.

1               Observe the way you sit. What is your experience of your general posture? How are your spine, torso, neck, head, arms and legs positioned? How long can you sustain this before you feel the urge to change positions? What positions are you most comfortable holding for long periods of time? What positions are you uncomfortable holding?

2               Observe the way you stand. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? How is your body balanced? Do you find yourself continually making small adjustments to maintain balance? How long do you feel comfortable maintaining this posture before wanting to change it? How often do you want to change it?

3               Observe the way you walk. What is your experience of your general posture? What is the position of your spine, neck, head, torso, arms and legs? What is the sequence of motions your body routinely makes? How do you maintain balance through this range of motions? What rhythms do you naturally tend towards? How do these things change with increased speed or extended time? Apply this type of observation to any repetitive type of motion you tend to make, such as exercise, dance, or yoga.

4               Observe the way you respond with your body to external stimuli. What do you respond to with increased calm? What do you respond to with increased alertness? What do you respond to with increased tension? How many of these responses are you typically consciously aware of? Are any of your responses surprising to you?

Spend a little time in isolation observing your body with minimal outside distractions. Later, extend your practice to increasing body awareness with increased external stimuli. Try to make this kind of observation a habit. With practice, you’ll find that your awareness of your body will increase, with little or no need for mental direction, growing more frequent, durable, and more deeply felt.

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

15 Quotes On Gratitude

December 28, 2012 | Leave a Comment |

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on gratitude.

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally ‘count our blessings,’ give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.” – Shakti Gawain

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Read more

In this video (recorded at the B&H Event Space) I describe my creative process in detail and offer many useful insights some of which you may find personally valuable.

Preview my book Process here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

“Radio host Julie Burstein talks with creative people for a living — and shares four lessons about how to create in the face of challenge, self-doubt and loss. Hear insights from filmmaker Mira Nair, writer Richard Ford, sculptor Richard Serra and photographer Joel Meyerowitz.

As a producer, Julie Burstein builds places to talk (brilliantly) about creative work. Her book “Spark: How Creativity Works” shares what she has learned.”

Watch more creativity videos here.

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We assume that we know our own minds, when in reality they’re much more complex and mysterious than we think. Consciousness is one of the great riddles of the universe for which there are surprisingly few answers, no comprehensive system, and not even a single definition. Yet we all use our minds everyday. We’re so used to the continual train of thoughts in our minds, some of whose paths are individually chosen and some conventionally patterned, that they go unrecognized for what they are or even unnoticed. Through meditation the constraints that we have learned to place on our minds can be loosened selectively. The boundaries between our conscious and subconscious minds can become more permeable and we can experience more than the surface of our selves. We can learn to experience the full potential of our minds.

Try this meditation.

1         Simply observe your thoughts.

Don’t try to control (focus, direct, or change) your thoughts.

Don’t fixate on or avoid certain thoughts.

Don’t judge or criticize your thoughts.

Don’t judge or criticize yourself for having thoughts.

Simply observe your thoughts.

After meditation review your process. Were your thoughts familiar or surprising to you? Did your mind flow in conventional patterns (comparison, contrast, chain of events) or not? Did you favor certain subjects over others? Was the tendency to think certain thoughts reinforced by recent or reoccurring events? If you experienced memories of past events were they recent or long past? How does this meditation on thoughts compare to previous ones? How does increasing or decreasing the time you spend meditating change your experience? What did you learn about your mind?

Learn more about meditation with these resources.

19 Quotes On Insight

December 21, 2012 | Leave a Comment |

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes on insight.

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. – Marshall McLuhan

“The best vision is insight.” – Malcolm Forbes

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight.” – Thomas Carlyle

“The worst pain a man can suffer: to have insight into much and power over nothing. – Herodotus

“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Humor is the affectionate communication of insight. – Leo Rosten

“Mirth can be a major tool for insight, changing “ha-ha” to “aha” – Anonymous

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We All See Different Things

December 20, 2012 | 1 Comment |

Exhalation I, Mosquito Point, Maine, 1997

I’ve collected more responses to this image than any other. While they use varied words, most people’s associations share some quality of breath and/or a divine presence. However, some people’s associations vary wildly.

One night, at an opening, a man reeking of scotch and smoke approached me and said, “I love your satanic icon!” Surprised I looked around the room to see which image he was referring to. He directed me to this one. Challenged by his response, it was very different than my intentions, I held to my practice of not sharing my responses to images unless I feel the viewer can maintain and possibly add to rather than replace their own.

On another occasion, a friend bought a print of this image and surprised his wife with it saying, “Look! Isn’t it beautiful?” She replied, “You’re not hanging that in here!” “Why not?” he responded. “Can’t you see? It’s dirty. It’s an x-ray of someone sitting on the toilette.” It took some negotiation and an extended session of sharing what they saw in the image for him to be able to hang the image, in his office.

The response I treasure most came from a four-year old boy, who stopped in his tracks and caught his breath as he crossed the threshold of the door to the room this image was displayed in. Then he raced to it, waving his arms in the air, “It’s a giant sneeze!” Touched by his spontaneous outbursts, I tried to reconcile them with my desire to communicate something general if not specific. I had given the image the working title of Avra, the Sanskrit word for breath. I thought, breath … sneeze … close enough. Everyone in my studio now refers to this image as ‘the giant sneeze’.

How can other people’s associations inform your work?

How many ways can you stimulate viewer’s association in your images?

Read more of The Stories Behind The Images here.

After Seth Resnick and I finished our recent Digital Photo Destinations workshop (See our itinerary here.) we scouted possible new locations with Eric Meola in Bolivia’s high deserts guided by the first rate Daniel Portal of Another World Photography. The highlight of the trip was a 24 hour session on the Uyuni salt flats. Afternoon storms added an electric drama to the edges of the playa and turned other parts of it into a mirror. Whether at sunrise, midday, or sunset it was like walking on/in the sky. It was truly one of the most sublime landscape moments of my life ranking right up there with hellcopter aerials over Namibia’s Sossusvlei, cruising through Antarctica’s The Gullet, or quietly watching the evening colors change from sky blue to gold to dusky gray behind Iceland’s Seljalandsfoss waterfall.

These images are a few of my quick iPhone sketches.
It will take some concentrated time to finish my final images.

Digital Photo Destinations is returning to all of these locations in 2013.
Email jpc@digitalphotodestinations to be the first to hear about these workshops.

“Street artist JR made a wish in 2011: Join me in a worldwide photo project to show the world its true face. Now, a year after his TED Prize wish, he shows how giant posters of human faces, pasted in public, are connecting communities, making change, and turning the world inside out. You can join in atinsideoutproject.net

With a camera, a dedicated wheatpasting crew and the help of whole villages and favelas, 2011 TED Prize winner JR shows the world its true face.”

Watch more creativity videos here.


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