You live a colorful existence. One where you eat colorful food, wear colorful clothes, engage in colorful relationships and move through a completely color-full world. Color is the reflected light interacting between light-energy and matter. Similar to plants, our bodies feed off light, and our eyes feed off color, absorbing it into our brain. Our perception of reality is largely composed of the colors and shapes we are able to, or not able, to see.
Each color is defined by a unique wavelength, energy, and frequency. Some colors almost universally evoke specific instinctive reactions. We constantly filter the environment through our senses, our reactions shifting with the nature of stimuli. As creatures of this planet, our innate instincts work constantly to screen and analyze everything we encounter for danger.
The oldest healing traditions such as Ayurveda, the chakra system, and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) link color with physical and emotional health. Light frequencies have been shown to affect serotonin and melatonin, affecting mood and sleep. This is partly why the blue light from our screens is addictive and disrupts sleep when it is the last thing we see before bed.
Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body. -Wassily Kandinksy
Modern color psychology dedicates research to the color-mood connection, and chromotherapy, or colorology, is an ancient practice that uses color for healing gaining a reputation among alternative healing therapies today.
Chromotherapy uses color to balance the emotional, spiritual, physical, or cognitive energy. Dr. Edwin Babbitt, pioneer of modern chromotherapy, recognizes the relationship between the outside world, filtered through our skin, on overall health. “All vital organs have direct connection with the skin through arteries, blood vessels and capillaries, and colour rays can affect the entire blood stream through circulation and elimination of toxins”.
By shining a color on a particular area of the body or administering through the eyes, chromotherapy applies vibrations already existent in nature to the physical body via the aura, or electromagnetic body. In doing so, chromotherapy seeks to access the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for the endocrine system to support hormone and nervous system regulation.
Emotional responses to color vary with different color’s saturation, brightness, and temperature, as well as personal and instinctual correlations.
Red is the first color of the rainbow and simplest, densest color. It is the color of the root chakra, located at the base of our spine, which grounds us and represents security, stability, and our basic needs. Both the simplest color and the longest wavelength, making red objects appear nearer than they are. Red grabs our attention to activate our most primitive fight, flight or freeze response. Instincts relate it to fire and blood.
TCM and chromotherapy implicate red in heart health, and fatigue, thanks to its ability to stimulate us and raise our pulse to increase circulation. Red’s excitement and connection with base instincts also triggers the appetite.
Think of all major food chain logos… a lot of red! (Also, stop signs, danger signs, corrective ink, etc.) Effective marketing to attract attention and target our primal needs.
Orange is recognised in Ayurveda, colorology, psychology, and the chakra system to enhance energy, creativity, and self-expression. As a combination of red and yellow, orange stimulates both a physical and emotional response. Chromotherapy uses it primarily as a therapeutic nerve stimulant.
Yellow, and the sacral chakra it’s tied to, indicates personal power, transformation, and confidence. With a relatively long wavelength, yellow is emotionally stimulating–color psychology describes it as the strongest mood booster.
TCM associates yellow with the spleen and digestion, which transform and transport energy from food throughout the body. Yellow foods such as pineapples, yellow squash, lemons, and the like, contain naturally occurring digestive enzymes!
Green lies at the center of the color spectrum requiring no adjustment for our eyes; the color of balance. Lush green vegetation triggers emotional correspondence with safety as green indicates adequate water and food to our psychological instincts. It is the color of life and growth, associated therapeutically with the liver and the heart.