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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rainbow Walk: A Mindfulness Activity to Move the Body and Rest the Mind

Sidney, Australia (photo by Catharine Hannay)

This is probably my favorite mindfulness practice.  I tend to spend too much time sitting around with my mind running in circles, and this helps get my body to move and my mind to rest.  

The instructions are very simple:  Take a walk, and look for something red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  Keep going through the colors, in order, until the end of your walk.

You can do this anywhere, at any time of year.  Obviously, it will be easier to spot a lot of different colors in a garden in the spring.  But in the winter, you could notice some bright red berries, or a red ski hat, or even a stop sign.     

Here are some suggestions for individual practice:

  • Bring a camera and take a photo of at least one image with each color;
  • Bring a sketchbook--even if you're not an artist, this will help you really focus on what you're looking at (as Churchill said about painting);
  • Write in your journal about the things you noticed and how they made you feel.

And here are some suggestions for  group practice:

  • Provide a worksheet for students to note and/or sketch something they saw in each of the colors. 
    • First grade teacher Kate Schleyer generously shared her worksheet: click here
    • click here for a slightly different version 
    • Important Note About DownloadsThese are printable worksheets, not fill-in-able pdfs. If you'd like to have your students fill them in and send them to you, the worksheets need to be downloaded as 'Format: Open Office XML.'
  • After the walk, discuss what different members of the group noticed--were different people focused on different things?  (For example, one person may have noticed mostly flowers, while another person may have noticed mostly cars or clothing)

Here's a rainbow of photos from some of my own walks in different parts of the world.  You might want to use them as a quiet contemplation practice on a day when you can't get outdoors.

Rindge, New Hampshire (photo by Catharine Hannay)

Mount Kurama, Japan (photo by Catharine Hannay)

Locust Grove, Virginia (photo by Catharine Hannay)

Ackworth, New Hampshire (photo by Catharine Hannay)

Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand (photo by Catharine Hannay)

Sugi, Hirakata-shi, Japan (photo by Catharine Hannay)

related posts:

Counting Sounds: A Mindful Walking Practice

A Dozen Ways to Explore the Five Senses

Human Camera: A Mindfulness Activity to Engage the Senses

Noticing the Five Senses: A Daily Mindfulness Log