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;
  • 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:

Harnessing the Four Elements: A Mindfulness Activity for Facing Challenges

Human Camera: A Mindfulness Activity to Engage the Senses

and more Free Resources and Lesson Plans

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  1. Fantastic! All the info I was looking for! Cheers!

  2. We did this with our adult ESOL learners
    thank you for the idea ☺

    1. I love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing all this wonderful information!

    2. Thanks for your comment, Sue--I'm so glad you're finding the site useful.

  3. I love it, thanks Catharine.
    cheers, Shakti

  4. Thanks, Shakti--That's a great link with suggestions for teaching mindfulness to "wriggling, distraction-prone" kids.

  5. Rainbow walk brilliant. Thanks for sharing.Pat Moss

    1. Thanks for your comment, Pat. I'm glad you like rainbow walk!

  6. Did this with my girls today on a neighborhood walk, and they LOVED it. And I noticed things I had never noticed before! Thank you for sharing!

    1. That's wonderful, Tanuka! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  7. What an amazing idea! Creating a workshop with others for H.S. students and I think this would be a great activity to include. Thank you!

    1. All the best with your workshop--I hope they like the Rainbow Walk!