Artist

Footprints Of Waves

Posted by on Jul 01 2017

This photographic artwork is part of a series exploring the present moment. Here I have made an attempt to experience the present moment while observing the ocean waves and their relationship with the sand.

A wave rises and falls. As it recedes back into the ocean it leaves behind, for a fleeting moment, footprints on the sand that remain overlooked as we are mesmerized by the majesty of the bigger waves. Each image captures a moment that is unique to the one that experiences that moment, thus the white border that is around each of the images. One viewer may perceive an image of mountains, while the other may see details of a desert scene in the same image. Which perception is “real”? Which one is the objective reality? Is it both? Is it neither? Can it be both and neither? Is there a reality in the moment beyond the one that we perceive? These are the questions I want the viewer to reflect upon while engaging with the images.

As you look at the images I invite you to stay still, stay present with the image. With each passing moment, the shapes could shift, the values may change, you may see new projections of your mind in the image. This observation is a reminder there are only present moments to our experience of reality, and each of those moments is in a constant state of change. One cannot hold on to the moments, one can only let go.

abstract art, sand, beach, waves, abstract art, fine art, waves, sand, beach abstract art of waves on sand. Taken on the beach in Laguna Beach abstract art of waves and sand taken in Laguna Beach. Abstract art photography of waves and sand taken in Laguna Beach. Abstract art photography of waves and sand taken in Laguna Beach. abstract art, sand, beach, waves,

Becoming

Posted by on Jun 01 2017

This is part of an ongoing series, “Becoming”.

Every moment is changing and new. Music, I feel, represents the relentless momentary change. After all, a sound is nothing but vibrations, and music seems the most pleasant of all vibrations. The deeper we delve into the music, the deeper we can feel the impermanence of each moment. There’s a certain sense of profound stillness within the flux.

I derive a sense of calmness not so much by the idea of, “Just Be”, but more, by relaxing into the notion of always Becoming, just as each note of music is simply becoming.

The entire series consists of different instruments-brass, wind, string.

what is mindfulness?

Posted by on May 16 2017

What is mindfulness, really?
It’s such a trendy word these days. Everybody uses it. Most instances of general usage refer more to awareness than mindfulness. To say, “do something with mindfulness” means paying deliberate attention to the task at hand. The official definition that has taken hold in the West is,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgementally.”
by Jon Kabat Zinn, 

Why mindfulness?
There are about 30 years of research that shows mindfulness practiced in a nonsectarian context brings tremendous benefits in many areas of life, including, but not limited to various illnesses, stress, heart disease, chronic pain, OCD, eating disorders, substance abuse, and the list goes on. Some of the big areas where it helps are Self Awareness, Impulse Control, and Emotional Balance.

Isn’t it Eastern religious thing? Where’s the science behind it?
Although it did come to the West from Eastern spiritual traditions, it’s practiced in the West, in many settings,  without any spiritual connotations. For example, the military, hospitals, therapeutic settings, academic settings, etc. The main areas that mindfulness practice affects the brain are the Hippocampus, Amygdala and the Prefrontal cortex. The Amygdala goes into overdrive during times of stress and reacts with your basic “Fight, Flight, Freeze” conditioning and makes the Prefrontal cortex less accessible. When the brain is familiar with practicing mindfulness, the Amygdala deactivates and the Prefrontal cortex is more accessible. The reason why we want the Prefrontal cortex to be accessible is that this is the region that helps us make better decisions/choices, and this is the area that is primarily responsible for learning. This is the area responsible for higher level thinking.

So, if you are a child in a classroom that has just come in after recess, where you might have had some sort of conflict, or come to school in the morning after a conflict with your parents or siblings; or simply forgot to do your homework; or not studied enough for your test, your Amygdala is in  an activated state and your Prefrontal cortex and the Hippocampus (responsible for memory and recalling information) is inaccessible, you cannot expect to get much out of the lesson the teacher has in  mind. However, if you are familiar with mindfulness practice and do it on a regular basis then you have tools to deactivate the Amygdala, which then makes the good parts of the brain (Hippocampus, Prefrontal cortex) accessible.

If you are a parent and are at that point where you are really about to lose it with your child, your Amygdala is on overdrive and your Prefrontal cortex is inaccessible. What this does is your better judgment of being calm and not yelling at the child is blocked (because your Prefrontal cortex is responsible for making good decisions/better choices). If, however, you have a mindfulness practice, your Prefrontal cortex is more accessible because your brain knows how to deactivate the Amygdala and has become really good at it through practice.

Just paying attention to the breath can do all this?
Yes! As much as we want things that work really well to be complex and intricate and expensive and luxury, mindfulness practice is nothing extraordinary. It’s a very simple practice, and its benefits have been tested by Western scientists in scientific labs. Don’t take my word for it, google, “Dan Siegel mindfulness”, “Jon Kabat Zinn”, “David Vago”, “MBCT”, “MBSR”. Research labs at Harvard, MIT, UCLA, Stanford, and many other respectable institutions are specifically researching mindfulness practice and not just meditation in general.

So, how do you do it?
Here are the 3 steps:
1) Find your seat on a cushion or a chair and try to keep your spine straight (if not, you will not be doing it wrong).
2) Close your eyes, breathe naturally, and keep your attention on the movement of the breath. Breath in, breath out-just be as attentive as you can to that breath.
3) When you find yourself lost in thought, just be aware that you got distracted and say, inwardly, “thinking”-no judgments or analysis about your thoughts or that you got distracted, just a simple label like, “thinking”, or “discomfort”, “hungry” will suffice. After labeling your thought, come back to the breath.

Start with 2 minutes and increase the time every week. Some people practice for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour and some do it for 15 minutes. It’s better to have short frequent practices, so don’t worry if you are just doing it for 10-15 minutes a day. Do 10 minutes a day twice a day if you are able.

FAQ:
1) What should I visualize-like a peaceful place?
Nothing. You keep your thoughts on the present breath. You’re trying to be awake to the present moment, not relax into some abstract idea of meditation. When you are in stress, the stress happens here in the present, not in some peaceful place in your mind, so train your mind to be present.

2) Can I open my eyes?
Yes, you can keep your eyes open, but keep the gaze downward and soft so that your surroundings don’t distract you too much.

3) What if I itch and move?
Try to stay still and experience the itch, but if it gets uncomfortable then, scratch the itch and come back to your breath if your attention gets distracted while you itch. If you feel pain in your legs, move your legs and come back to your breath. This isn’t bootcamp.

4) Will I look weird when I do this?
Yes, as weird as when you sit down in front of the TV or when you text on your phone. It’s all weird-there’s no normal.

5) I can’t do this. I can’t sit still for 5 minutes doing nothing! So, what now?
Practice active mindfulness. When you are eating, just pay attention to the food in your mouth as you chew it. Just for a few seconds-maybe 30 seconds or 2 bites the entire dinner. Then after dinner when you do the dishes, keep your attention on 2 of the dishes you wash (not the whole sink, just 2). When you kiss the kids goodnight, just hug him for 10-15 seconds and keep your focus on his heartbeat. After the kids are off to bed and you turn on the tv, pay attention to how you hold the remote and what buttons you are pushing to turn it on and increase or decrease the volume-don’t let it happen on auto pilot. When you change into your pajamas, pay attention to how your pajama shirt feels as you take it off the shelf, put it over your head, and how it feels on your skin (that’ll probably take 10-15 seconds). For each time you are paying attention, you will get pulled away by other thoughts. When you become aware that you were distracted, say, “thinking” or “distracted” and come back to your focus of action (this step of labeling and coming back is the key to your practice).

Really?
Yes, really.

clarinet memories

Posted by on Feb 15 2017

My wife played the clarinet as a young girl. She didn’t continue for various reasons. Still, I enjoy seeing the excitement in her face as she tells me her stories about practicing the clarinet and trying so hard to learn her favorite songs. She succeeded sometimes, and not others. I can almost see the images in her mind as she talks about the taste of the bamboo reed on her lips and the feel of the beautiful, intricate keys on her young, delicate fingers. She discontinued the practice, but the bitter sweet memories live on. Do you have such memories?

clarinet in black and white clarinet in black and whiteFine Art clarinet picture clarinet in black and white

 

saxophone nostalgia

Posted by on Jan 24 2017

Many years ago; many, many years ago, I had an intense obsession with the saxophone. I really wanted to learn how to play this instrument. The school that I was going to at that time offered it only to the senior students-the high schoolers and I was but a little ten year old. I left the school a few years after, before reaching the age of qualifying for the saxophone class.  Interesting though, my ten year old son now wants to play the instrument.

the saxophone

saxophone 01saxophone 08 saxophone 07 saxophone 06 saxophone 05saxophone 03 saxophone 02

dana point cliffs

Posted by on Dec 19 2016

Recently my wife and I woke up one early morning and headed down to the Dana Point beach for a photo walk. Even that early it was a hot temperature day. We walked along the beach adjacent to the Ocean Institute. We wandered off along the huge cliffs where there was little pedestrian traffic. The air got colder, much colder as the sounds of early beach goers got dimmer. It was just us, the water, the waves, rocks, and the cliffs. I’ve been here before, but this was the first time I truly experienced the cliffs. So powerful, majestic, rising high from the ground and seemingly reaching the skies, the occasional seagull flying across my frame, and the shapes they formed against the foggy and sometimes, for a brief moment, clear skies were truly enough to make me remain present with the moment.

Dana Point Cliffs 01Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

Dana Point Cliffs

petal study

Posted by on Nov 10 2016

A flower. What an intriguing collection of petals, sepals, anthers, leaves, and stems. In its presence, women behave as though entirely drawn and helpless to its seemingly innate power of irresistible attraction-something that men can only vaguely hope of possessing. Men, perhaps out of sheer envy of its power, fail to wholeheartedly acknowledge its presence. In its very essence, though, does it really possess such magnetism? It remains without a mind, without self awareness and consciousness. It doesn’t feel-not to the extent that it has the capacity to project feelings on to its onlookers. It is us, I believe, that succumb to the power of our mind that attracts or repels our “self” to the ever elusive beauty of a flower.

Do I enjoy flowers? I’m almost as helpless as my wife in their presence. Thus, I’ve decided to see them more mindfully in my photo study. This series contain studies of petals.

Black and white photos of flowers Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Petal Study

Foggy weekend

Posted by on Oct 29 2016

Waking up early on the weekends is not easy. I’d be lying if I said I look forward to the weekends so I can get up early and go make images. I like my late Friday and Saturday nights, staying up with my wife to watch movies on Netflix. The warmth of the bed the next morning leaves few options for any motivation to wake up earlier than hours past sunrise. This weekend, just like most others, I slept in. When my wife woke me up and reminded me about our plan to go shooting this morning, I got out of bed with much reluctance. Though it was quite late in the morning, the sky was overcast and I could see the fog rolling in and out of our neighborhood. Thus, we decided to make a trip to the Laguna Niguel Regional Park.

A quiet foggy morning awaited us, and here are the results.Laguna Niguel Regional Park photo Laguna Niguel Regional Park Laguna Niguel Regional Park

 

the absurdity of time

Posted by on Aug 26 2016

I found this old, broken clock in a heap of props that a school theatre department was getting ready to throw away. What a wonderful find, don’t you think?

Time simply makes no sense at all to me. This whole notion of 1 o’clock, 5 0′ clock, 12 o’ clock seems such an absurdity, for what good is it when the only existence we truly have is too fleeting, and perhaps, too profound to fully experience. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been that present.

DSC_2663-Edit DSC_2655-Edit-Edit DSC_2667-Edit

Keyba the dog-just like us, perhaps

Posted by on Oct 03 2013

This is Keyba, the dog. I was at a business portrait shoot a few weeks ago and one of the employees had a dog with her. Keyba goes to work with her every day and sits in his little back pack or wanders around the office, quietly, by himself, thinking, and perhaps looking for ways to be entertained endlessly-every minute. Just like us humans. Our obsession with the desire to be entertained every single minute is quite remarkable, don’t you think? Why do we gravitate towards entertaining the mind so much? Even when we are sitting in meditation or mindfulness practice, we get creative and we want to add things to the practice that “helps” us get through the sitting session. Perhaps we can add a little music, gentle sound of waterfall, or chanting music in the background while we sit and focus on our breaths. The practice is to be with our mind-no matter how erratic it is. To simply watch our mind-directly, without fear, without other stuff to distract us even further. Really, perhaps we fear that if we really look at our minds we’ll realize how much drama there is in our minds, and we’ll realize it is created by us, and perhaps the worst part is, there is a way to stop it. We can stop our own dramas. Then that would be absolute disastrous, wouldn’t it? Do you remember the time that your favorite television series came to an end? You were probably sad a little, a little depressed even, you felt a sense of loss, you identified with the characters and now they’re gone.

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait

Black and white dog portrait