COLOR WALKING MINDFULNESS PRACTICE
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION THROUGH AN EXISTENTIAL APPROACH
‘Color Walking’ is a term that was used by one of my patients when she referred to the mindfulness walking meditation that I taught her, with a focus on becoming aware of colors along the path. The term she used was a keen and precise adaptation of the longstanding mindfulness practice utilized in many eastern traditions and in psychotherapeutic therapies today (MBSR, DBT, ACT, Trauma therapies, Logotherapy). Essentially, it is walking (taking time out of the busy day to walk), with focused awareness on breath (the eternal breath of life from within), and the colors of life around us (colors of this unique planet and place in which ones lives).
A Mindfulness practice brings a gentle awareness (observation) to body, breath, thoughts, and existence. It allows an individual to become more of an observer of experiences, within a non-judgmental stance, allowing for an opening up to experience, rather than being caught within it or controlled by it.
‘Color Walking,’ (a walking meditation—mindfulness practice, with focus on color), aids in many psychological difficulties and disturbances, as it assists to quiet the chattering mind of thoughts and emotions as a byproduct from shifting attention and awareness, and incorporates many ideas from Logotherapy and Existential Analysis;
(1) Self-distancing—movement away from hyperreflection or hyperintention on particular thoughts;
(2) Responsibility—taking ownership in choosing to do a beneficial action and behavior for self;
(3) Choice—conscious awareness of taking action;
(4) Meaning in the moment—through becoming aware one’s ‘experiences’ with nature and self;
(5) Creativity—in becoming aware of the multitude of colors, their meaning in one’s life, and the combination of colors in physical matter;
(6) Awareness—of self with the freedom from thoughts and possibilities of choice in choosing to focus on colors.
Mindfulness practices in general, have become more prominent and mainstream in psychological therapeutic interventions today, with research showing decrease in depression, anxiety, emotional mood dysregulation, chronic pain, hyperactivity, and several other symptoms, including a sense of meaninglessness and despair. ‘Color Walking’ is an easy technique to offer clients as a way of introducing a mindfulness practice, and beginning to get more in touch with oneself. The bilateral movement and stimulation of the body while walking produces a calming effect, as does the deep abdominal breathing, which increases the PSN (parasympathetic nervous system) response, a relaxation response. Focused attention to colors allows one to see the richness that colors bring to life, as well as a decrease in thoughts focused toward past and future; it brings one in touch with the present moment.
There are no rules, and this practice is not hard to do. The idea is to just go for a walk, and pay attention to one’s breathing, trying to breathe from the bottom of the lungs (the belly will rise or go out/expand in combination with the chest on the inhale, and belly and chest will fall or sink in on the exhale); and pay attention to the colors around you, noticing the nuances, variations, blending, combinations, and contrasts, without judgment, simply noticing the colors that make up your environment. If passing thoughts, images, bodily sensations, and emotions come into your sphere of awareness, allow them to gently pass through or pass by, such as the clouds are passing by, or water in a stream is moving by, without judging yourself. Bring your attention back to your ‘Color Walking.’ Any amount of time will suffice for the walk, however, 10-15 minutes of ‘Color Walking’ tends to have positive effects on the psyche and body, and likewise on one’s spiritual practice.
‘Color Walking’ Practice:
Go for a walk
Pay attention with gentle awareness to your breathing, deep abdominal breathing is most helpful
Pay attention with gentle awareness to the colors along the path
Keep a non-judgmental stance toward yourself for your attention getting sidetracked; when you become aware of this, gently bring your focus back to your breathing and the colors
Be in the present moment
This practice can be adapted to ‘Music Walking,’ where one listens to music while walking, and focuses on one instrument or sound throughout the song; then listen to it again with a focus on a new instrument or sound. One piece of music can be listened to several times, becoming aware of different sounds, and how they come together to make the piece of music.
Attached is a collage of pictures of the colors I noticed along my ‘Color Walking’ Mindfulness Practice. You can make your own collage, and then keep it to refer to when you cannot make it out for a walk, to bring the outer experience inward.
These Handouts are meant for Mind-Body-Spirit (bio-psycho-social-spiritual) awareness and self-help empowerment. ENJOY!
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