After a few years of meditating, my friends started telling me that I looked different. They said I looked younger, that I had a glow, someone even called me effervescent. Some people couldn’t put their finger on it and said “you just look…different”. Before I was a regular meditator, I carried a lot of tension in my face and my default setting was a stern, half frown. I imagine I must not have looked very happy, certainly not “effervescent”. Day by day, meditation has been untangling the knots and smoothing me out. It’s the best beauty product I know of. The article below features before and after pictures of people who attended a month-long retreat. It’s amazing to see how their faces changed in just one month.
Heartbeat: The Meditative Effect of Peter Seidler’s Before & After Project
In this era of heavily manipulated, Photoshopped images, we have come to expect dramatic differences from before and after pictures. How many times have we seen famous faces and bodies dramatically transformed by the push of a pixel here and there to generate a person’s super version of what he or she actually looks like?
Peter Seidler set out to explore the concept from a very different angle. In his series “Before and After,” Seidler presents a unique and subtle perspective:
“This series of photos, titled ‘Before and After,’ comes from a larger project called ‘Contemplatives,’ a visual exploration of the physiological qualities of meditation practice,” the artist explains. “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?”
Somewhere along our conscious travels we may have heard that meditation practice can offer glimpses of increased clarity, health and happiness. With a change in those qualities, one might expect to see a difference in our looks. Seidler gives us a chance to observe his examination.
“Each participant in the project was asked to simply sit for a portrait on the first day of a dathun, a month-long meditation retreat.” Seidler says of his process. “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. The result is the series of photos. It’s clear from 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.”
Do the results make you want to sit for a while?
Images Peter Seidler via Shambhala Times