Columbian hypnosis



This exercise involves participants working in pairs to lead one another through a space as one participant follows another participant’s hand. This activity requires trust, awareness, and non-verbal communication as students work together to move safely through the space.

Target group

Appropriate for everyone

Number of participants

2+ participants, 1 facilitator


1 big room or open space or multiple rooms

Time needed

30-45 minutes




Practicing attention. Breaking habitual patterns. Engaging the body. Using the position of the leader/the follower to discuss how power relations function within a story or social context.

Step by step instructions

Step 1.
Divide the full group–or let the group divide itself–into pairs. Each pair decides who is Player A and Player B.
Step 2.
Have partners check in with each other about any physical needs or limitations they might have today (e.g. “Getting up and down off the ground is hard for me”). Set space parameters so students know where they can move in the activity to keep their partners safe.
Step 3.
Ask Player A to hold the palm of his or her hand about fifteen centimeters from Player B’s face. Ask Player B to imagine that her or his partner’s hand has hypnotized him/her and that s/he has to follow it anywhere it goes, keeping the same distance between her/his face and the palm at all times. As Player A moves around the room, Player B follows.
Step 4.
After a set time, switch and let B’s lead.
Step 5.
Reflection: How did it feel to participate in this activity?
Which did you prefer—being the leader or being led? Why?
What does this activity have to do with trust? With power?
How does this relate to our larger inquiry?

Tips for the trainer

It is good that the participants start moving in slow motion as they begin leading their partners. Emphasize to keep their partners safe as they move through the space. Once they get the hang of it, encourage them to find new ways of moving through the space in order to challenge their partners.

Any other comment

Before the activity starts, point out that this is not a competition, it is a collaborative activity. The point is not to give partners impossible tasks. This is especially important if the participants are children.