Color affects us all, it is part of our everyday life - but what exactly is it? The dictionary definition of color is the sensation resulting from stimulation of the retina of the eye by light waves of particular wavelengths.
Sir Isaac Newton, when he wasn’t watching apples fall, spent much of his time in 17th century England analyzing light and color. He discovered that light, although it appears to be white, is actually a blend of colors. Using a glass prism he was able to separate a shaft of light into the seven colors of the rainbow we all know so well. But even centuries before Sir Isaac the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, Tibet and India used light and color as a powerful tool in both healing and religious ceremonies.
Light has an almost magical effect on both our mind and body, and color therapists maintain it can actually be absorbed not only through the eyes but also through the skin surface by way of our nerve ends. Too much or too little light can have a very definite effect on our physical and mental health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is brought about by a lack of bright, unfiltered sunlight, whereas too much light can actually speed up the aging process. Worryingly, recent research has shown that some girls who live in urban areas with high levels of street lighting actually start to menstruate at an earlier age than their country cousins.
The Scientists’ View On Color Therapy
So if light itself can affect our bodies, what about the individual colors that make up a shaft of sunlight? Science accepts that different colors have different physical effects on our bodies. Tests show that being exposed to red increases our body’s pulse and blood pressure as well as making us feel energized or aggressive, whereas at the other end of the spectrum blue tends to relax the body as well as lower the pulse and blood pressure. This is why some interior designers use certain color schemes in hospitals, psychiatric wards and prisons.
Science also shows how color can affect the way things grow. Mustard and cress seeds exposed only to red light become stunted with very little foliage; green light makes them grow thin and weak, whereas a blue light produces healthy, well developed plants.
Color has a dramatic effect on our emotions. We are all familiar with the expressions ’seeing red’, ‘feeling blue’, being ‘green with envy’ and ‘Purple with rage’. Color also affects our perceptions. Anyone who watches the decorating programs on TV will notice how much color can change the way we see a room. Our choice of colors in the clothes we wear, our hair shade and even the cosmetics we use say a lot about the way we feel about ourselves. And these colors can dramatically affect the way others perceive us. A whole industry has grown up around the art of color counseling, in which image consultants advise clients as to what colors best suit their individual personalities and circumstances.
If color has such a dramatic effect on the way we live, it stands to reason it can have an equally powerful effect on our state of health. What better way to deal with ‘feeling off color’ than to visit a color therapist?
How Does A Color Therapist Make A Diagnosis?
A color therapist, whatever system of treatment they use, will usually spend some time talking about the patient’s general state of health and their life circumstances. After this initial consultation the actual methods of diagnosis can be quite varied.
Technique Used By Color Therapists
Aura and chakra diagnosis
Many therapists make their diagnosis by observing the aura, the field of electromagnetic energy that vibrates around our bodies. The aura is made up of different colors that fluctuate dramatically according to our physical, mental and spiritual state. Color therapists believe that each organ, body part, emotion or mental state has a specific color which it vibrates, and to which it also responds. By observing the shades of colors vibrating in someone’s aura they decide where the problem areas are.
There are said to be two levels of aura, the ‘etheric’ immediately surrounding the body, which is usually a very pale magenta, and the ‘astral’ which radiates out from that and forms eight layers of color around the body. In a healthy person these layers are red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, violet and also a dark version of magenta. The shape and size of the aura is believed by color therapists to depend on a person’s feelings and state of health.
To a color therapist, reading an aura is just as straightforward as taking someone’s temperature; it does not mean they are psychic or clairvoyant. Most therapists can see the aura by concentration alone, while others use a Kilner screen. This screen is made up of two sheets of glass with a dye trapped in between, which helps reflect the aura’s colors.
According to Eastern belief, the chakras work in tandem with the aura. Most people who practice yoga are familiar with the ancient Sanskrit system of chakras (wheels of fire). These are the eight energy points believed to lie in line with the spine. It is believed that the eight chakras correspond to the eight colored layers of the aura and relate to a particular gland or part of the body.
Colorpuncture is a new method of color therapy that has recently come to the UK from Germany. It uses Kirlian photography as a diagnostic tool. Developed by a Soviet electronics engineer in the 1930s, Kirlian photography actually records the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body. Based on the theory that the patient’s energy patterns coincide with the traditional acupuncture points, it is possible to diagnose where health problems may lie by photographing the finger and toe tips and interpreting the energy emissions from specific points.
Some therapists use a pendulum with a lock of hair or photograph of the patient attached to a specially designed spine chart to dowse for weaknesses in the spine’s own color energies.
Color cards have been used since the 1940s as an aid to interpreting personality disorders as well health problems. But in 1985 Dorothy and Howard Sun, both graduates of the Hygeia College of color Therapy, devised the color Reflection Reading system which uses shape as well as color as a diagnostic tool. In this system, each of the eight colors is given a corresponding shape: a red square, an orange diamond, a green circle, and so on. The patient chooses three colors/shapes, which it is said gives the therapist an insight into their life and needs.
What Form Does Treatment Take?
Once the therapist has diagnosed the patient’s needs there are various ways in which color and light can be used.
This is the most traditional method in which white light shone through color filters is directed onto specific parts of the body. Alternatively the whole body may be bathed in color. Sometimes the light is turned off and on in a rhythmical pattern as well.
A relatively modern technique whereby a small torch fitted with a colored beam is directed onto the relevant acupuncture points on the body.
A remedy prepared by pouring water into a colored container which is then exposed to sunlight for about two hours. The patient is then asked to drink the water.
The patient is asked to relax and imagine specific colors radiating onto the problem areas of their body.
Certain colored foods will be recommended. Green vegetables are believed to boost cell regeneration and cleanse the system; the orange in carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins to help increase levels of vitamin A which helps improve the skin and mucous membranes; red peppers and chillies to boost the circulation and energy levels.
Patients are given advice on choosing colors to wear and use at home, to help improve their energy levels and general sense of well being.
Once patients have selected the bottles which most appeal to them, they are asked to massage the oils regularly into specific chakra points on their bodies. An Aura-Soma practitioner uses a set of 99 different bottles containing a combination of essential oils and herbs floating within two levels of brilliant colors. The philosophy of Aura-Soma is psychologically based. The system was developed in 1984 by the late Vicky Wall, a blind pharmacist and herbalist. She is said to have received divine inspiration for her unique system of color therapy which revolves around her Equilibrium Oils. The client selects four bottles and the therapist then supplies a reading of their mental, spiritual, and physical needs.
This is a specially constructed bath fitted with colored lights. By exposing the body to colored light while in water, the patient is said to more easily absorb the light frequencies over the whole surface of the body.
DIY Color Breathing
Lie down or sit up with your spine relaxed and straight. Breathe normally in a natural rhythm until your mind is clear of all thoughts. Imagine yourself acting and feeling positive, select a color and breathe in, visualizing the color entering your solar plexus (below the ribcage) and spreading throughout your body just beneath your skin. As you breathe out, visualize the complementary color.
RED - Breathe in red for vitality. It brings energy and increases sexuality, strength and willpower. Then breathe out turquoise.
ORANGE - Breathe in orange for joy, happiness and fun. Breathe out blue.
YELLOW - Breathe in yellow to increase your objectivity and intellectual powers. Breathe out violet.
GREEN - Breathe in green to cleanse, to feel more balanced and to combat tumors. Breathe out magenta.
TURQUOISE - Breathe in turquoise to counteract inflammation and fever, and strengthen the immune system. Breathe out red.
BLUE - Breathe in blue for relaxation and peace, and in cases of sleeplessness. Breathe out orange.
VIOLET - Breathe in violet to increase self-respect, and for feelings of dignity and beauty. Breathe out yellow.
MAGENTA - Breathe in magenta to let go of any obsessional images, thoughts and reminiscences. Breathe out green.