Color is a funny thing. While most people can identify between 150 and 200 colors, we don’t all see exactly the same colors. In addition, the emotions and memories we associate with certain colors affect the world we see.
According to Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses, “Color doesn’t occur in the world, but in the mind”. We use color to calm, to arouse, to energize, however colors can mean different things to different people, based on history, experiences and culture.
Alan Handelsman offers here a powerful process he calls the “Color Trick”. You can use it to help shift emotional issues, reduce stress, or shift your perception of situations. Alan will be our Keynote speaker (Friday July 4) at the West Coast Conference in Santa Cruz, and will teach a daylong workshop on Monday, July 7.
Doing Magic With Color, by Alan Handelsman
Some people might call the process you are about to learn guided imagery or visualization. Others may call it a meditation. I simply call it the “Color Trick.” I call it a trick for two reasons. The first is that it works like magic. Not the type of magic that is associated with an entertainer’s deception, but the kind of magic that is the art of controlling natural events and causing unaccountable or baffling effects. The magic that is science that hasn’t been explained yet.
The second reason I call this process a trick is because I consider all the methods I’ve learned and developed over the years to balance energy and effect changes as my “bag of tricks.” Whenever I am working with a person or a group, I reach into my bag of tricks and pull out something that will be effective for the situation. If one doesn’t work, I go back to the bag, and pull out another.
This “color trick” is a very effective item in my collection of energy modalities. It works just as well with any size group as it does in a one on one session. I have been ending each one of my group workshops with the Color Trick, and there has always been a very profound calmness and silence in the room afterward. You can also do the Color Trick or yourself, either by recording the directions into a tape recorder and then playing it back, or simply by taking yourself through the process step by step.
The color trick consists of three basic steps:
- Identify and acknowledge some thought, emotion, or “issue” that you want to eliminate or change. Experience that emotion a color. (Color #1)
- Identify the desired state of mind or being, and experience that as a color. (Color #2)
- Move Color #1 out, and replace it with Color #2.
In the color trick you are not working with emotions directly, but with representations of the emotions. The use of color automatically involves the sense of sight, which makes the experience of the emotion more concrete, and therefore easier to change, and to notice those changes.
In the instructions below, I have been somewhat general, so that the format can be used in many different ways. I never use exactly the same words when I do the Color Trick. I say what comes into my head at the moment. The form stays pretty much the same, but the words change each time. When you use this process yourself, feel free to alter it in ways that will make it work better for you and those who are experiencing it along with you.
When you are working with a group of people, they will usually have a variety of issues. If you are working with one person, or a group dealing with a special topic (fear, anger, food cravings, etc.), then you can be more specific. This process can be done in as little as five minutes, or it can take up to 20 minutes, depending on how much time you have available.
Now, here is one possible way to talk through the Color Trick. Experiment with the words to make it as effective as possible for you. The words in brackets are not to be spoken, but simply comments to clarify the process along the way.
Sit comfortably in your chair, with both feet on the floor. Your eyes can be open or closed during this process; most people prefer close their eyes. Put one hand across your forehead, and the other across the occipital area of the back of your head, directly behind the hand on your forehead. With your hands in this position, put your feet together, and then pull them about eight to ten inches apart. Leave your feet apart for the remainder of the process. Now you can release your head, and rest your arms comfortably in your lap. [This is called frontal/occipital holding, and is in itself a very powerful stress-reducing technique. It is not essential to the Color Trick, but may make the process even more powerful.]
Now I want you to think of a situation, issue, or relationship in your life that causes you fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, anger, resentment, guilt, grief, or any other emotion that is uncomfortable. If you were to experience this emotion as a color, what color would it be? And where in your body do you experience this color? Is it all over, or in one or two specific areas? Notice the color and location.
Now we are going to set aside Color #1 for a minute or two. It is time to think of a time or situation in your life when you felt wonderful. A time when you were at peace, and you felt more like the person you always wanted to be than at any other time in your life. Maybe this time is far in the past; maybe this time is in the future. Whenever or wherever it is, you feel as relaxed, assured, peaceful, joyful, accepted, loved, enthusiastic, alive, confident, connected as you ever have. If you experienced this feeling of peace and joy as a color, what color would it be? That is Color #2.
Let’s go back to Color #1. The color of fear, self-doubt, anger, pain, etc. Wherever this color is in your body, can you move it a little bit? Can you unfasten it from whatever is holding it in place? And can you change its shade; can you see it fading a little bit? Let this Color #1 begin to fall from where it has been living. Feel it slowly move down and down in your body, until all of this color is in your legs, and then in your feet. [The important thing here is to get the feeling that Color #1 can be changed in some way. If the person can begin by making even small changes in the location, shade, or even the shape of Color #1, then (s)he’s now got control over it, and can make further changes.]
Now we are going to attach a grounding cord to the bottom of each one of your feet. This cord can be made of anything. Light, wood, metal, rubber, a laser beam, anything. It can be solid your hollow, hard or soft; it doesn’t matter. This cord goes from the bottom of you foot to the center of the earth. Color #1 will travel out of your body through your feet, down through the grounding cords to the center of the earth, where this “negative” energy will no longer be a part of you, but will be transformed into energy that will be very helpful for someone else at some future time. This Color #1 is no longer yours.
Now that Color #1 is gone, we are going to return to the wonderful Color #2, the color of peace, joy, belonging, acceptance; any emotion that you need most of all right now. There are many ways that you can immerse yourself in this color. You can jump into a pool of water that is the color of Color #2. Or you can take a shower, and the water coming out of the shower is Color #2. Or you can sit in the sun, and bathe in the warm sunlight that you feel. And this sunlight is the color of Color #2.
[This next part, the installing of Color #2, can be done in as short or as long a period of time as is needed. It is a very enjoyable experience, so I take as much time as I have to go through it. I use a lot of pauses, and often repeat certain parts of the process. You can spend more or less time in different areas of the body, depending on the issues involved, and what feels right to you. I’ve done this whole thing in as little as 5 minutes when I’ve had to. Fewer pauses, less repetition, but it is still powerful, and each person still benefits.]
You feel this Color #2 on your head and face. It soaks your skin, but it goes deeper than your skin, soaking through to the inside of your head. This Color #2 seeps into every cell of you body. It completely bathes every particle in every atom in every cell of your body, and all the space between each particle. The color soaks your head and face, inside and out.
Then this Color #2 travels down into your neck and shoulders. You can feel all the tension dissolve as you are totally immersed in the color of relaxation, peace, joy, and ease of living. You are feeling a much deeper level of peace than you’ve ever felt before. This Color #2 goes down into your arms, to the tips of your fingers, bathing each cell, and all the space in between the cells.
You feel this color move down into your torso, where all of your internal organs are bathed in Color #2, regenerating, revitalizing, and rejuvenating all of your cells, allowing each of your organs to function with the most efficiency, elegance, and ease.
Color #2 now moves down to your waist, and into your legs, the wonderful warm color of relaxation and excitement at the same time. This color moves down your legs… from your thighs to you knees…to your ankles… and to the very tips of your toes.
Now your entire body, and the space outside of your body are being completely bathed in Color #2. This is the color of peace, of joy, of feeling sure that you belong “here,” wherever “here” is at any particular moment. It is the Color of feeling at one with all that is, accepted exactly as you are, and accepting everything and everyone exactly as is. You are completely immersed in the color of joy, of love, of feeling “at home” and at peace every place you are. It is the color of knowing that you are good enough exactly as your are at this moment, and that you always will be. It is the color of oneness and peace. We don’t always take the time to do it, so enjoy the experience of Color #2.
[If you have been working with acceptance as an issue, then make Color #2 the color of acceptance. If you have been working with fear, then Color #2 can be assurance. If you are working with old habits, Color #2 can be control, and so on.]
This Color #2 is a gift that you’ve been given; it is a gift that you’ve given yourself. It is a gift that you will always have, that no one can ever take away. This color of peace, joy, belonging, acceptance, will always be yours, and this color will always be in every cell of your body, and in all the spaces inside and outside of your body. It will be working for you every moment of your life from now on. It will always be there for you, even when you don’t feel like it is. This color of peace, joy, belonging, acceptance and love is yours for now, and forever.
When you feel you have been totally bathed saturated in Color #2, you may slowly open your eyes.
When doing this Color Trick with a group, I always find it an effort to break the intense silence that has enveloped the room. I wait several moments after everyone is finished to speak.
I have found that no matter how large the room or the group, I can speak very softly, and be heard quite clearly. Some people can be pretty “spacey,” so you don’t want them rushing out to drive home. Leave some time after the process to sit and smile.