Light is absorbed through our skin, and each of the three primary colours (blue, red and green) has a different frequency of energy. A study conducted by the British medical journal The Lancet in 2002 showed that the brain's production of the mood enhancing hormone serotonin was directly related to the duration of exposure to bright sunlight. Not only is exposure to light essential to human survival, but from a very young age we have learnt to associate colours with feelings.
In another study, patients who were exposed to one hour of bright blue light every day for three weeks showed marked improvements in their depressive symptoms in comparison to the control group, which was exposed to red light. The improvements felt by the blue light therapy group were comparable to those experienced by the antidepressant drugs group.
Traditional cultures and religions from ancient Egypt, India and China have used the emotional and spiritual power of colours to stir up their followers. Of course, yoga practitioners have used colour visualisation as a form of meditation to stimulate each of the chakras, or centres of energy in the body, for many centuries.
More recently, in the 1960s, a Swiss psychotherapist named Max Lusher began developing a colour chart to test the different facets of human personality. According to Wikipedia, his belief was that while oursensory perception of colour was objective and universally shared by all, individual colour preferences were subjective. This distinction allowed subjective states to be objectively measured by using test colours.
Lüscher believed that since the colour selections were guided in an unconscious manner, they could reveal the person as they really were, not as they perceived themselves or would like to be perceived.
Personality traits could be identified based on one's choice of colour. Therefore, subjects who selected identical colour combinations had similar personalities. In order to measure this, he conducted a test in which subjects we shown eight different coloured cards and asked to place them in order of preference.
Some of the selected colours were: blue associated with feelings of contentment and belonging, green associated with self respect and willpower, red associated with confidence and reaction to challenges, and yellow associated with development and attitude towards the future.
Today, the advertising industry has become expert at influencing our decisions through the use of colour and music, and we have learnt that colour choices in psychiatric hospitals and prisons can have a huge impact in the behaviour of mental patients and inmates.
In Oriental medicine, each of our main organs is associated with a specific colour.
In the five elements concept, the liver and the gallbladder (Wood) are related to the colour green; the heart and the small intestine (Fire) to the colour red; the spleen and stomach (Earth) to the colour yellow; the lungs and the large intestine (Metal) to the colour white, and the kidneys and bladder (Water) to the colour black.
This can be a useful diagnostic tool for the Oriental practitioner, when, for example, a black tinge under the eyes of a patient is interpreted as a symptom of kidney weakness, and a green facial discoloration can be the manifestation of a liver disorder.
But can colour be used to improve the physical health of a patient?
In the 1950s, the legendary Japanese acupuncturist Dr Manaka undertook several research experiments which proved that placing a specific colour dot on a selected acupuncture point could automatically decrease the level of pain in a patient by harmonising the five elements relationship.
Colour Therapy in Reiki
Reiki also uses a form of colour therapy called chromo therapy, which is closely related to the yogic concept of chakras. In this form of therapy, the seven colours of the visible light spectrum correspond to the seven chakras responsible for our physical and emotional health. Starting from the base of the spine (red) we move to the pelvic area (orange), then the solar plexus ( yellow), the heart (green), the throat ( blue), the middle of the forehead (indigo), to end at the top of the head with the colour violet. The energy of each of these centres is connected to a specific organ and emotions. Stimulating the powerful energy of a specific chakra via its own colour can help restore the emotional and physical well being of the person affected.
It is interesting to see that colours can have specific emotional connections with each culture. For example in China, the colours red and yellow have traditionally been considered to be the luckiest.
In the field of Oriental medicine some innovative practitioners are now using colour therapy to expand the effectiveness of their acupuncture treatment. I must confess that I haven't tried yet, although my life partner has been encouraging me to improve my professional dress code for some time.
Olivier Lejus MHSc.BHSc. is a registered acupuncturist practising in Sydney.
Olivier Lejus BHSc.MHSc. is a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practising in Sydney. A former casual university lecturer and tutor in Oriental medicine with over 15 years experience in clinical practice, Olivier specialises in Japanese- style acupuncture for the treatment of male and female infertility, migraine, pain, and insomnia.www.olejusacupuncture.com