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It revs us up or slows us down. we see red or feel blue. Why? Here it is in black and white.
Colour elicits powerful emotions and reactions in all of us. It’s a form of energy that makes us sense either coolness or warmth. Certain colours also have had many associations over the years. During China's imperial rule, the emperor and royal family owned the exclusive right to wear yellow. Similarly, purple was associated with European royalty during mediaeval times, while green will forever be associated with Robin Hood. Orange conjures up the Hare Krishna Hindu sect and blue symbolises the Hebrews.
Our colour preferences are innate. We associate every colour with a particular feeling, which is the result of our genes, early childhood memories, education, cultural training, political leanings and other aspects of living. In turn, our emotional response to a colour impacts on us psychologically and physiologically.
The powerful healing properties of colour were first recognised thousands of years ago by the people of Tibet, China, Greece and Egypt. Colour therapy involves using colour in treating disease. Just as colours vibrate at different frequencies, all living cells, tissues and organs have their own characteristic frequency of vibration in health. When we become ill, the vibration of our cells change and can only be restored to their normal homeostatic pattern by food, physical therapy, drugs, nutrients, exercise or colour. If individual cells lack colour vibrations or receive an overabundance from the environment, then their vibration frequencies and growth patterns will alter to the point of damage.
We don't see colour. It starts in the brain and is communicated through lightwaves reflected from the object. Our eyes have receptors sensitive to the primary colours – blue, green, yellow and red – and by combining these, we can recognise 16 million colours.
You can easily apply the principles of colour therapy to your home or office environment. Making the best choice depends on knowing your personal reactions to colour and being aware of colour's positive and negative aspects, regardless of what fashion dictates. Ultimately, the colours around you should make you happy.
Red represents warmth that stimulates strength, joy, happiness and love, while its negative aspects are fear, lust and excessive anger. The physical effects of red in a room heighten the senses of smell and taste. Red shouldn't be used around people with mental illness or neuroses.
Orange is a gregarious colour that stimulates creativity, ambition and energetic activity. It's a colour of nourishment and digestion, speeding up plant growth, encouraging waste elimination and increasing appetite while slowing blood flow. Its negative vibrations cause nervous and restless behaviour.
Yellow is the colour of sunshine, youth and joy. It's spiritual and brings out compassion and creativity. In its negative vibration, it symbolises cowardice, prejudice and domination. Yellow can cause allergies to flare up. A good colour for kitchens, but not for children's rooms.
Green has great healing power. It can soothe hay fever and improve eczema, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal disorders. Negatively, heavy dark greens can be depressing and debilitating.
Blue is calming, representing truth, harmony and hope. It reduces appetite and perspiration. Blue and green together stimulate talent and creativity. But too much saturated blue can be depressing. Warm blues are good for bedrooms, living rooms and work areas.
Purple is a spiritual colour representing good motives. It stimulates the spleen and higher brain, while controlling irritability and reducing hunger.
White is purity and perfection. Because it reflects back light, it works best with natural daylight to accentuate colour, shape and texture.
Black represents the absence of light, absorbing energy and vitality. Use as an accent colour to heighten the effect of other colours.
Article originally appeared in Capespan Courier April/May 2008 – see www.capespan.com
Written and edited by Mariette Greyling, www.tomar.co.za