The Colour of Compassion
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Colour is powerful. There has been quite a bit of research done on the subject of colour and the effect it has on psychological performance, emotions, chronic pain and more.
Colour can be uniting, and divisive. It can be soothing, and energizing. Today I want to share with you a practice, and activity, to engage with a compassionate colour. The invitation is to be curious and open, to see what arises. There is no right colour, or wrong colour, the colour arising for you today may be different from tomorrow. You may think compassion has a certain quality, like warmth, and thus the colour must be a “warm” colour, but when I recently led this meditation online, one of the participants with just this mindset, was surprised to find that the colour arising was blue, generally associated with being a “cool” colour. She then realized that the blue connected to the ocean and her feeling of safety and comfort in the ocean, so it was a “warm” colour for her in that moment.
The meditation below is quite a bit shorter than the one I usually lead, but it will get the essence across, and is meant as an invitation for experiencing colour and engaging with it. After meditating on the colour I invite you to create a visual piece with the colour, and this is purely an invitation, but if you are hearing a voice inside saying, “You aren’t an artist so don’t even bother.” Invite that voice to step aside and be a little playful. Being playful and curious awakes our inner child and can bring feelings of joy, something we all definitely need in the current world climate.
Compassionate Colour Meditation
1. Beginning with checking in and arriving.
Finding a comfortable position, that feels dignified, without feeling that we need to hold ourselves rigidly. Letting the body be held by the surface we are on. Feeling relaxed and alert as best as we can.
2. Spend a moment with our motivations, asking ourselves briefly, “What is my motivation for practicing compassion?” There is no need to construct or search for an answer, just observing if the body responds, or if there is a response in the way of thoughts, images or feelings.
3. Spend a moment connecting to your breath, or another anchor. Knowing that when you find your mind wandering, this is your place to gently come back to, before beginning again.
4. Becoming aware of our body, and the connection to the earth, by the surface we are being supported by. Then letting our attention move throughout the body, taking in feelings such as warmth or cold tightness, openness, discomfort, pain, relaxed muscles. Noticing the sensations around the skin, and also the interior of the body. Finally, also becoming aware of the space. Mind resting in the body, body resting supported by the ground, with space all around us.
5. Now finding a sense of a compassionate colour, and imagining it in front and around you. Manufacture the colour, just noticing what colour arises and letting this colour be suffused with kindness and warmth. Imagining that the colour enters into your body through your heart area, and is able to completely fill your body, spreading out to the tips of your toes and the crown of your head.
The colour might be like a liquid pouring through you, or perhaps it is like a mist softly spreading into all areas in your body.
This colour has a quality of total kindness. Completely here for you, melting through all barriers, limitless, this colour will never run out, will never dry up.
6. If there are any obstacles or thoughts or distractions, just letting the colour surround them and perhaps melt them, or just returning your focus gently to feeling the colour in the body, knowing that these obstacles and distractions will arise and that’s ok. Just letting the colour suffuse the space around whatever you are experiencing.
7. Taking your time bathing in the presence of this compassionate colour.
8. When you feel ready allowing the colour to gently soften feeling a hint of the colour that can remain for you for whenever you need it.
9. Then opening your eyes and gathering some art supplies and letting your body guide you, create an image with your compassionate colour. It may just be lines, or a full page filled with the colour, or there may be a shape. Whatever arises, honour this process. You may want to put the image up near where you work today, to keep the essence of the compassionate colour with you to remind you to embody compassion as best you can, for yourself and for those around you.
The above is a visual in my creative journal for my Art Therapy Studies, created after engaging in the compassionate colour meditation.