Color Walk 101: What Are They, and What Are They For?
Color walks are an actionable way of regulating your emotions through regulating your body, using a combination of physical and mental techniques. Color walks combine mindfulness with autonomic system regulation techniques and light physical activity to help decrease stress and anxiety, improve mood and sleep, and assist in passive emotional processing.
So, what is a color walk?
In its most basic form, a color walk involves going on a walk, clearing your mind, using meditation breathing, and focusing on looking for items of a particular color. However, there can be so much more to it than that. You can take a color “walk” anytime, anywhere- even sitting down!
Why do color walks work?
Combining deep breathing and mindfulness exercises helps sync your breathing and heart rate, reduce anxiety, and release endorphins. Regular physical activity, even low-intensity walks, is great for improving blood flow, energy, and metabolism. The more you practice mindfulness and taking these color walks, the more your body and mind get used to the state of relaxation they produce, making color walks more effective and easier with practice.
How do I do a color walk?
Start with a simple, slow breathing pattern (I will be posting more on breathing patterns and the science behind them soon). You can go on a "walk" anywhere you choose. I prefer gardens or forests, but you can take a color walk on a city street, through your office building, on the bus, or even just sitting still in your house. The key components of a color walk are controlling your breathing and focusing your mind on your breathing and finding your chosen color, although the physical activity of walking does have additional benefits.
Think about a color. It can be your favorite color, one you don't see very often, or one chosen at random. Once you have chosen a color and reached the place where you want to take your walk, it's time to slip into your breathing pattern. You can use meditation breathing, timed breathing, or just breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Try to focus your thoughts only on your breathing. It may help to count your breaths, or to bring a fidget or stim toy to keep your hands occupied. When your breathing pattern begins to feel natural, it's time to take the walk. While you are walking-- or riding, or sitting-- focus on looking for items of the color you've chosen.
Allow yourself to be aware of the visual environment around you. Is there any moss growing on the rocks or trees nearby? Are there pictures on the office walls? How many car bumper stickers can you count through the bus window? What color is there the most of in your bedroom?
Now that you are aware of your visual environment, think about the color you've chosen. Can you find anything of that color? Can you find any purple pens, orange mushrooms, green street signs, or red cars? It may be soothing to touch or collect those things for sensory/tactile input, but you can also just notice and acknowledge them.
During your walk, focus your mind on your breathing and the colors you see. This may be a challenge, but it gets easier with practice. If you lose focus, you can always bring yourself back to center by getting back into your breathing pattern. It may help to let your mind wander, or to daydream, as long as those thoughts are happy and positive. You can imagine yourself as a superhero, an Olympic athlete, a successful businessperson, or whatever else brings you joy.
A color walk can be as long or as short as you'd like. If you collected things while on your walk, consider making shadow boxes or putting them on display (see my Instagram, @ColorWheelCoaching, for examples!)
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, or are interested in learning other actionable skills to help you improve your life, contact me to book an appointment!
-Eli Prachar, Color Wheel Coaching
If you'd like to read more about the science behind the benefits of deep breathing, physical exercise, and mindfulness, check out the links below!