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Date: 01/01/2014
  • Practices
  • Grounding in Gratitude
  • Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes
  • Living Systems/Deep Ecology
  • Emerging Facilitators
  • Facilitators

Mirror Walk

from chapter 6 of Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Brown; second edition, published 2014. Please acknowledge the source when you use any of these practices.


Time: 40 minutes


The Mirror Walk, adapted from the familiar Trust Walk, awakens sensory awareness and a fresh sense of gratitude for life, as well as providing a change of pace and focus. An excellent training for the ecological self, it helps people experience the world as their larger body — imagining when they open their eyes, at specified moments, they are looking in a mirror. Hence the name. Suitable at any point in the workshop, it develops trust among participants and moves beyond words to immediacy of contact with the natural world.



An outdoor setting, with growing things, is most rewarding, but even a city street with an occasional tree has served. Forming pairs, people take turns being guided with eyes closed, in silence. Without vision, they use their other senses with more curiosity than usual, and practice relying on another person for their safety. Their partners, guiding them by the hand or arm, offer them various sensory experiences — a flower or leaf to smell, the texture of grass or tree trunk, the sound of birds or children playing — all the while without words. The tempo is relaxed, allowing time to fully register each sensory encounter. Every so often, the guide adjusts their partner’s head, as if aiming a camera, and says, “Open your eyes and look in the mirror.” The ones being guided open their eyes for a moment or two, and take in the sight.

Demonstrate with a volunteer as you give instructions. Remind participants to remain silent, except for the periodic invitation to look in the mirror.

After a predetermined length of time, roles are changed. Provide an audible signal when it is time to switch, perhaps using a loud bell. The Australian Aboriginal call, coo-ee, works well because it reaches a great distance as people repeat the call as soon as they hear it.

When they return at the end of the second shift, each pair forms a foursome with another pair to speak of the experience. After ten minutes or so, you may wish to invite a general sharing in the whole group. “What did you notice?” “What surprised you?” “What feelings came up, in guiding or being guided?”

Contributor/Author: Joanna Macy & Molly Brown