Sunday, April 28, 2019

Blue Red Yellow: What Do You See?




Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels




by Catharine Hannay




Here's a simple exercise to try yourself or with your students (either adults or kids).

Please note: This isn't intended as a 'mindfulness script.' Try this activity a few times yourself before teaching it to others, and use phrasing that feels authentic to you rather than reading verbatim. 



Close your eyes, take a couple of breaths, and think about the color blue. Blue… blue… blue… Now open your eyes and look around. 

What do you see?

Was the first thing you noticed blue? Or, if there isn’t much blue around, did you notice a similar color, like gray or green?

Let's try it again, focusing on red this time. Close your eyes, take a couple of breaths, and think about the color red. Red… red… red… Now open your eyes.

Probably everything around you that’s red will pop out at you. And if there isn’t much red in whatever space you’re sitting in right now, you likely noticed whatever colors are most similar to red. Perhaps orange, pink, or even brown.

Let’s try it a third time, with the color yellow. Yellow… yellow…

What did you notice this time? Depending on what’s surrounding you right now, you probably noticed yellow or gold, or maybe cream or white or pale orange.

It’s funny, isn’t it? Nothing’s changed in the space itself, but it looks different because we notice different things. 


And this doesn’t just happen with colors. Practicing mindfulness has helped me realize how much my mood affects what I see. If I’m in a good mood walking down the street, I’ll notice things like the little flowers growing in the cracks in the sidewalk. On the other hand, if I’m walking down the same street in a bad mood, I’ll notice that the trash can is overflowing.

I’ve also learned that I can improve my mood by choosing what to focus on. When I’m anxious but make the decision to focus on my surroundings, I feel more cheerful, or at least calmer. 


Mindfulness is about paying attention, but it's also about choosing how to direct that attention. What you see depends on what you're looking for.



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