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The Sweet Pursuit

Former Associate editor Margret Aldrich on the hunt for happiness, community, and how humans thrive


The Meditation Makeover: Before and After

Before and After 1 

What would a month of meditation do for you? In the portrait series “Before and After,” Peter Seidler photographs participants on their first and last days of dathun, a 30-day group meditation retreat. He tells the Shambhala Times:

I set up the “Before and After” project to explore the observable effects on practitioners after long periods of intense meditation practice. The question is: what are the observable changes after a period of intense practice?

Each participant in the project was asked to simply sit for a portrait on first day of dathun.... I photographed them against a consistent background. Prior to the photograph, I asked each person to consider what they were looking for in the practice period ahead. This was on day number one. Then, at the end of the program, after approximately thirty days of retreat, I asked each participant in the project to sit in front of the same background and asked each to consider what the experience of mediation retreat had been for them.... It’s clear from the results that the person in every one of the portraits has undergone an important transformative experience. I leave it to the viewer to draw their own conclusion.

Before and After 2 

Before and After 3 

Before and After 4 

Before and After 5 

Some people who view Seidler’s images perceive increased contentment and happiness in the meditators’ eyes; others struggle to discern a change. What do you see?

Source: Shambhala Times  

Images courtesy of Peter Seidler (peterseidler@gmail.com). 

 

 

mike wilson
12/3/2011 9:26:21 PM

This is kinda lame, actually. While I believe everyone could benefit from some rest and reflection, the effects shown here are clearly.. affected. Even the backgrounds have magical beams of light in the 'after' pix.


kate mann
12/2/2011 6:56:59 AM

And I meant to say "if you asked them to think of any experience that was positive." Meaning a loved one or a wonderful day of some kind...


kate mann
12/2/2011 6:55:04 AM

As an actor, I can say that while it's a nice thought, the first photo shows someone asked to pose for a photo without an intention, while for the after photo, they were told to imagine what meditation meant to them. While it looks to me like the meditation was a positive experience for each of them, you might have gotten a similar result if you asked them to think of an experience that was positive for them. It's all about intention and whether you are engaged and active in a thought.


roger weston
11/25/2011 10:41:54 AM

A wonderful shift in the level of relaxation in their faces and an amazing difference in the eyes. Can you imagine a world where we teach children at an early age to meditate and do breath work? I would love to see pictures taken for a long period of time on people who continue their meditation practice. I like how each of the "after" photos show they all have a wonderful look of contentment and a peaceful smile on the face. Nice!


jyoti kaneria
11/17/2011 8:57:45 PM

This is fascinating! What an amazing idea and what amazing photos! I see a softness in each of the after photos that isn't there in the before one. Calmness, serenity, peace, joy, confidence are also there in the after. A particular glow that is more of an energy that surrounds them. Absolutely amazing! I definitely see a difference in the energy in my face and body when I actually meditate regularly! http://mindfulcreations.blogspot.com/


susan klein
11/8/2011 5:13:07 PM

Meditation has aided me in sleeping without any drugs, herbs etc. My days are so much more meaningful. My art is so much fuller in its content. susankleindesign.com


jwt meakin
11/7/2011 9:29:27 PM

Now add a series of photos taken after 30..60..90..120 days. If there has been a transformational experience beyond merely the effect of a month's rest, the change will stick.


donna kingsman
11/7/2011 6:50:25 PM

I see a softness in their expressions and also in their skin and facial features. There is a depth in their gaze that I don't see in the before pictures. They look content, present and grounded. Great study-would love to see more of these!


georgette crush
11/3/2011 7:22:50 PM

I see lightness and glowing in the eyes and aura of the person. I see motivation, activation, and a remembering of what life is all about. Great post!