The use of colour in healing is not a new practice. Historians have discovered that the Egyptians and Greeks used colour as a healing tool, using a wide array of coloured minerals, crystals, ointment, plasters and dyes to treat those sick in mind or body. Over the centuries, the power of colour was built upon and scepticism conquered.
Now modern-day belief is strong, reflected in the multi-million pound industry that comprises a wide range of colour-orientated businesses, all operating on the basis that colour can benefit.
In relation to crystal healing the implications of the colours of crystals, and how this is part of their influence is far reaching.
In 1666 Isaac Newton pondered the mysteries of light. Using a hole in a window shade to admit a ray of daylight into a darkened room, a glass prism was placed so that the ray would pass through it. The ray of light was refracted (bent) on travelling through the prism and emerged as a spreading beam of multicoloured light, the colours of the rainbow and in the same order, were seen on the white wall beyond.
From these observations of light emerging from a prism Newton concluded that white sunlight was a mixture of different types of light, with each being of a single pure colour and that each colour was refracted at different degrees, violet by the most and red by the least.
It’s no secret that colours are recognised to mean certain things in life. Red indicates danger and can encourage passion and even anger, while green is thought to have a calming affect – Sunderland City Council painted the Wear Bridge green, from its original bright red, in an attempt to discourage and reduce suicide jumps.
Clever and correct use of colours can rejuvenate wardrobes, make us look 10 years younger, and can greatly affect our self-confidence and even personal growth.
Colour can influence health; the practice of colour therapy uses colour and light to treat disease and bring balance and harmony to the energy centres (chakras) of the body.
When light strikes any coloured object, the object will absorb only the wavelengths that exactly match its own atomic structure and reflect the rest - which is what we see.
Turn this around and it is easy to understand how the colour of anything is a clear indication of its atomic structure or, in simple terms, what it is made of. When light strikes the human eye, the wavelengths do so in different ways, influencing our perceptions. In the retina, they are converted into electrical impulses that pass to the hypothalamus, the part of the brain governing our hormones and our endocrine system. Although we are unaware of it, our eyes and our bodies are constantly adapting to these wavelengths of light.
Colour is energy and the fact that it has a physical effect on us has been proved time and again in experiments - most notably when blind people were asked to identify colours with their fingertips and were all able to do so easily.
There are only eleven basic colour words in the English language, and yet there are literally millions of colours. Computers will give us sixteen million and the human eye can distinguish more than any machine. After the basic eleven, we borrow words, such as avocado (is that the flesh, or the skin?) and grape (is that deep purple or green?) to describe the myriad of shades, tones and tints. This inevitably creates confusion in colour communication. People often ask, "Do we all see colours the same?" Who knows? The point is that in colour psychology it does not seem to matter what we think we are looking at; the effect of colours on us is caused by their energy entering our bodies. Colour-blind people are also sensitive to colour psychology.
There are four psychological primary colours - red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between these three.
|Red - Physical
Positive: Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, 'fight or flight', stimulation, masculinity, excitement.
Negative: Defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain. red is a powerful colour.
Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the "fight or flight" instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.
|Blue - Intellectual
Positive: Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm.
Negative: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness.
Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction that we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world's favourite colour. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional and unfriendly.
|Yellow - Emotional
Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity.
Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.
The yellow wavelength is relatively long and essentially stimulating. In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety. Our "yellow streak" can surface.
Green - Balance
Positive: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace.
Negative: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, depletion.
Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment and is, therefore, restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance - a more important concept than many people realise. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used, will be perceived as being too bland.
Violet - Spiritual
Positive: Spiritual awareness, containment, vision, luxury, authenticity, truth, quality.
Negative: Introversion, decadence, suppression, inferiority.
The shortest wavelength is violet, often described as purple. It takes awareness to a higher level of thought, even into the realms of spiritual values. It is highly introvertive and encourages deep contemplation, or meditation. It has associations with royalty and usually communicates the finest possible quality. Being the last visible wavelength before the ultra-violet ray, it has associations with time and space and the cosmos. Excessive use of purple can bring about too much introspection and the wrong tone of it communicates something cheap and nasty, faster than any other colour.
Positive: Physical comfort, food, warmth, security, sensuality, passion, abundance, fun.
Negative: Deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity.
Since it is a combination of red and yellow, orange is stimulating and reaction to it is a combination of the physical and the emotional. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort - food, warmth, shelter etc. - and sensuality. It is a 'fun' colour. Negatively, it might focus on the exact opposite - deprivation. This is particularly likely when warm orange is used with black. Equally, too much orange suggests frivolity and a lack of serious intellectual values.
Positive: Physical tranquillity, nurture, warmth, femininity, love, sexuality, survival of the species.
Negative: Inhibition, emotional claustrophobia, emasculation, physical weakness.
Being a tint of red, pink also affects us physically, but it soothes, rather than stimulates. (Interestingly, red is the only colour that has an entirely separate name for its tints. Tints of blue, green, yellow, etc. are simply called light blue, light green…etc.) Pink is a powerful colour, psychologically. It represents the feminine principle, and survival of the species; it is nurturing and physically soothing. Too much pink is physically draining and can be somewhat emasculating.
Positive: Psychological neutrality.
Negative: Lack of confidence, dampness, depression, hibernation, lack of energy.
Pure grey is the only colour that has no direct psychological properties. It is, however, quite suppressive. A virtual absence of colour is depressing and when the world turns grey we are instinctively conditioned to draw in and prepare for hibernation. Unless the precise tone is right, grey has a dampening effect on other colours used with it. Heavy use of grey usually indicates a lack of confidence and fear of exposure.
Positive: Sophistication, glamour, security, emotional safety, efficiency, substance.
Negative: Oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness.
Black is all colours, totally absorbed. The psychological implications of that are considerable. It creates protective barriers, as it absorbs all the energy coming towards you, and it enshrouds the personality. Positively, it communicates absolute clarity, with no fine nuances. It works particularly well with white. It communicates sophistication and uncompromising excellence. It creates a perception of weight and seriousness (it is a myth that black clothes are slimming). Black is essentially an absence of light, since no wavelengths are reflected and it can, therefore be menacing; many people are afraid of the dark.
Positive: Hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanness, simplicity, sophistication, efficiency.
Negative: Sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness, elitism.
Just as black is total absorption, so white is total reflection. In effect, it reflects the full force of the spectrum into our eyes. Thus it also creates barriers, but differently from black, and it is often a strain to look at. It communicates, "Touch me not!" White is purity and, like black, uncompromising; it is clean, hygienic, and sterile. The concept of sterility can also be negative. Visually, white gives a heightened perception of space. The negative effect of white on warm colours is to make them look and feel garish.
Positive: Seriousness, warmth, Nature, earthiness, reliability, support.
Negative: Lack of humour, heaviness, lack of sophistication.
Brown usually consists of red and yellow, with a large percentage of black. Consequently, it has much of the same seriousness as black, but is warmer and softer. It has elements of the red and yellow properties. Brown has associations with the earth and the natural world. It is a solid, reliable colour and most people find it quietly supportive - more positively than the ever-popular black, which is suppressive, rather than supportive.
Judith Woods on Colour Therapy (The Telegraph -UK)
What is it?
Colour therapy is based on the idea that each colour has a different vibration and corresponds to one of seven different energy centres (sometimes called chakras) in the body. Colours are therefore used in a therapeutic way to restore the imbalances in chakras that lead to ill-health.
We all practise it to some degree through the selection of "signature" colours that we prefer to wear. Kylie Minogue once famously attributed her success to wearing pink underwear (pink is the colour of unconditional love) and Jerry Hall prefers to wear white or pale colours in order to lift her spirits and calm her mind.
Colour therapy refines these instinctive choices and uses colour as a healing tool that can be used on organs in the body.
What are the benefits?
Sky-blue is said to be good for insomnia, high blood pressure and teething, green for nervous tension and yellow for constipation and low self-esteem. Orange is used to counter depression, painful periods and asthma, violet for addictions and migraines, and indigo for joint problems and varicose veins. Red is deemed to be helpful for inertia and low libido.
What does it involve?
The therapist takes a full health and lifestyle history before showing clients a selection of silk scarves in various colours. Clients, who are either fully clothed or wearing a white gown, then choose their four favourites and the therapist uses these as a basis for the session. Coloured lights are then shone on the various parts of the body that correspond to the seven chakras.
Who does it?
There are over 600 colour therapists in Britain. They will have studied anatomy and physiology, as well as counselling, on a part-time course accredited by the International Association of Colour or similar body. Expect to pay in the region of £45 for a session. See www.iac-colour.co.uk for a list of therapists and their specialities.
Is there proof that it works?
A 1982 study at the San Diego State University School of Nursing showed that exposure to blue light resulted in significant pain relief among women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. A US study in 1990 also revealed that flashing red lights could stop a severe migraine attack within an hour.