The Color of Wellness

Opposite each other on the color wheel - these colors feel good together - balanced

Welcome to the University of Life. I’m glad you’re attending this class! Over the next nine blog posts (including today’s) we’ll have an in-depth discussion on The Color of Wellness—how color positively and negatively effects us.

The first two posts are designed for the purpose of laying groundwork that will lead us to a detailed look at the therapeutic properties of seven different colors. So without further ado, let’s get started:

Color is simply energy, energy made visible. Different colors stimulate or inhibit the functioning of different parts of our body. Treatment with the appropriate color can restore balance and normal functioning. Each of the seven major chakras (energy stations in our body) is associated with—and influenced by—a specific color. Every color has a different wavelength and individual properties, both positive and negative.

As human beings, color is the only energy we can actually see. While the speed of light is a constant 186,282 miles per second, the speed of color—its frequency—travels at varying speeds depending on the color and shade. As it meets the rods and cones in our eyes, the frequency sends a signal to our brain that allows us to distinguish one color from another.

Color has always had significance. In prehistoric times human lives were completely governed by day and night, light and dark.
   – Day brings bright, warm colors with action, activity, and an increase in metabolic rate.
   – Night brings cool, dark hues with rest, inaction, and slowness.

The cells of our bodies react to light—or lack thereof—directly affecting us physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Color produces a biochemical reaction within our bodies directly stimulating important glands, like the pituitary gland, which produce hormones regulating sleep, libido, metabolism, moods, emotions, and behavior.

In the late 1950s this awareness went a step further when color researchers noted that in human beings, both psychological and physical activity appears to increase as the wavelength of the light increases. In other words, reds, oranges, and yellows are just naturally more stimulating to us than greens, blues, and purples.

These researchers felt the color blue could be used as a supplementary therapy. For example, blue could serve as a tranquilizer and relaxant to anxious individuals and serve as a way of reducing blood pressure in the treatment of hypertension. Later research clearly supports that hypothesis.

In an experiment where prisoners were randomly assigned to either red, yellow, blue, or green wings, those in the blue and green wings were less inclined to violence than those in red and yellow wings.

Pink has also been found to have a tranquilizing and calming effect within minutes of exposure. The color pink seems to suppress hostile, aggressive, and anxious behavior. Further tests demonstrate that blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates tend to increase most under yellow light, moderately under orange, and less under red. These indicators decrease most under black, moderately under blue, and minimally under green.

We’ll finish laying the groundwork day after tomorrow. But in the meantime, please share with us:

What is your favorite color?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

40 thoughts on “The Color of Wellness

  1. Good Morning Professor Laurie! Glad to be back in class! Ah the Color of Wellness! How cool is that? Oh I guess depending on the color.
    My favorite color is blue, but I seem to have a lot of Green things as well.
    I started paying attention to how color could or would affect our/my states of Being and or wellness when I started reading Carol Barbeau an astrologer who incorporates color and stone of the day into her readings as well as essential oil!

    I also remember in the 60’s when resturants began using orange in their decor. Recently have seen photographs of old mental wards that were painted different shades of color, as well as using murals to calm and relax the clients.

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Good morning, Jeff – glad to see you in class. I can see why you resonate with the energy of the color blue, and green as well. We’ll find out about those reasons as we get to those colors. If I’m not mistaken, you typically wear a light blue stone, right (turquoise?) …

      I’m familiar with Carol Barbeau and appreciate her work.

      It was in the 60’s and 70’s that subliminal messaging in the movie reels at theaters became outlawed, and that’s when the use of color came into play as method of subliminal messaging in ad campaigns (red/yellow — SUPER SIZE ME PLEASE!) …

  2. Hi, Laurie . . . the first thought that came to mind is what about people who are color blind: either red/green or blue/yellow and whether the colors would have any affect on them. I had a friend once who was red/green color blind and he told me that a pink shirt, for example, just looked grey to him. I am assuming it would be grey just as grey appears to me but because we cannot see through another person’s eyes, we never can know. We can only ask them to look at an item that I would name as grey and ask if the red/green (or blue/yellow) item looks the same as the grey one.

    But I digress.

    I love working with color and find that I am very attracted to the earth colors of orange, brown, yellow, and red. When I am feeling the need to be connected, I love deep purple and deep blue/green.

    • Barbara – You bring up an EXCELLENT point with people who are color blind. Yes, indeed — color still effects them. Why? Because it’s the frequency (vibration) of the color, as opposed to the look/appearance of it, that’s at work.

      Earthy colors suit you to a T — very grounding and centering — with the orange and red for a dash of zing! and yellow for a pinch of kick-butt-and-take-names. Yes ma’am, I can see why you resonate with these colors 🙂

  3. The colors in your photograph are the predominant colors of Fall garden planting.. We did not decide it to be so, Mother Nature Nature planned that one. If your take the purple-blue shades of Mexican Sage, Joe Pye Weed, the many astors growing on the roadside, you will find them paired with the bright yellows and oranges of coreopsis, butterfly weed and the native helianthus. They are also showing up in my flower beds as the end of growing season comes in sight. There is nothing Like a big stack of vivid orange pumpkins to bring a smile unless it is the grinning faces of purple pansies beaming through out the shorter days. Now, then, I remember a long time ago, my uncle bought a sporty new car – with a red interior. It wasn’t very long before he traded it another. Why? Because my Aunt claimed that the red interior drove her crazy on long trips. Reds and bright oranges are not in my color scheme for summer either, they are just too hot to live with.

    • Sandi – I love the verbal picture you painted in your comment, WOW!

      Your last name is WHITE, and it’s perfect segueway for introducting that color:

      Many people want to know, “Is WHITE a color?”

      Yes, WHITE is a color. Like a prism, WHITE reflects ALL of the colors of the visible light spectrum to the eyes.

      On the other hand, BLACK is not a color; a BLACK object absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes.

  4. I have never thought much about color at all! Not being a visual person~~my conscious brain doesn’t feel drawn to a deep sensual sense of colors like some people have. And yet…what you say rings true.

    We are surrounded by green here in the woods now. I love beautiful vibrant green. Blue skys…beautiful. Bright yellow. Deep purple. I like all colors differently, I guess. (Sorry, kind of rambling, thinking about this.)

    My Ojibway name is Naquaobmigesiquay. Which means Rainbow Eagle Woman. All colors of the rainbow. That sounds good!

  5. As some of you know, my favorite color is Blue, and the description here really fits.

    I have yellow in my master bedroom and bath, with splashes of blue.

    The rest of the colors are earth tones.

    No sure why I love black and white dogs? The white is so pure.

    I love yellow roses….just got pink ones today for my anniversary.

    BTW. Am colorblind…could not pass a test if my life depended on it. I see all colors of the spectrum, with a slight gray tint.
    In the lab field it is a challenge and I apparently compensated by really looking at things and asking a lot of comparison questions to make sure I was seeing the same reactions others were, as not to compromise patient care.

    As always I enjoy these classes….


  6. Laurie I am extremely glad I showed up for class this morning. I was just musing about why I was so attracted and calmed by a recent photo I took. I love blue because of it changes its mood with just slight degrees of hue. There are so many blues and not all are calming but THIS blue in “waters edge” hits my soft spot!

    I shall be in a front row seat for the next class! And I am so looking forward to this nine part series.

    • Terrill – I’m about to walk out the door, so I’m going to come back and respond to your comment here. First, though, I want to take the time on RedBubble to find a very specific piece of your work that floored me when I first saw it. The color is ASTOUNDING and I can’t quite think of the name of it, so I’m going to have to look at each one. When I find it, I’ll come back. I followed the link you provided and that’s what immediately called to mind another one of your pieces.

  7. Laurie, as you asked about our favorite color I found myself thinking how much my own preferences and colors have changed over the years. It would have been interesting to have paid attention and kept track, to have recorded it in some way. A palette of one’s life….. sort of 🙂
    For the first time we are living up off the ground in a second floor apartment with people below us. There is such a sensation of not having my feet on the ground. Of always needing to get closer to the earth. So interesting. Since we’ve been here I’ve been drawn to green and to all of the earth tones (in our living space) and to some of the clear and beautiful blues.

  8. What color is my wellness?
    I’m not sure. I’m working hard to be in the pink! The colors of my website of in the pink family.
    I like purples, Golds and greens.
    I look forward to hear what this all means.

  9. I have a question. I recently met a blindborn buy of 15. He tells me he doesn’t know “what colour is”. I ask him : how does coulour feel, smels, sounds.
    After 10 minutes of so he malls me : red is my favourite coulour because it is the colour of the brassband.
    I know I challenge him to explore his other senses. I ask him how blue, yellow and green feels. See how it goes. I tolded him that even sighted people don’t see everything like X-ray.
    Did you ever work with blind people ?

    • Elke – I love what you’ve shared here; you’re brilliant! I have one blind client and two deaf clients. The blind client and I work with lots and lots of touch — she does anyway, and so do I, so it works out very well. I am definitely going to have to try the method you used with your 15 year old friend.

      And Len and I both attended the Center on Deafness in Deerfield, Illinois so we’re decent (although we used to be much better) at sign language.

  10. I work everyday with the whole range of the Aura Soma colours.
    At the moment pink is predominant : selflove in times of transition
    And green : right time, right place and balance

    Look at the colour of your clothes too : today I am having a sweater in dark purple : selfesteem

    • Elke – The most prominent Aura Soma color I use in my healing practice is the deep red pomander. I can so see you using pinks and greens. Have you thought about using a piece of Unakite? This stone is a combination of both pistachio green and soft pink. Its therapeutic and metaphysical properties are wonderful. Do you have a piece? If not, let me know and the next time I send a package to Belgium, I’ll include one.

  11. Fascinating post!

    The blend of purple and orange is on stunning display in Franco Zeffirelli’s inspiring St. Francis film, BROTHER SUN SISTER MOON (1973) where the balance you describe here is showcased in an indellible and ravishing color tapestry.

    • Sam – Naturally, I sped over to Wonders in the Dark and searched on “Brother Sun Sister Moon” and found your wonderful work. In talking about color, I appreciated where you said,

      “Zeffirelli, who is well known for his painterly eye and a ravishing appreciation of color, imparted on his film his inimitable grasp of breathtaking composition, and the potent use of the oldest device of all: the close-up. With his gifted cinematographer Ennio Guarnieri and three art directors, including Giorgio Giovanni, Zeffirelli conceived and shot the in the same manner as he did with Romeo and Juliet, with breathtaking settings, lush color and scenes of delicate beauty that all translated into a veritable feast for the senses. Particularly ravishing was the use a field of orange and violet flowers (reportedly located in Serbia) where St. Francis first consumates his love for nature: ‘Birds are singing sweet and low/in the trees that gently grow.'”

      Readers – please follow this LINK to read the entire piece. I had NO IDEA! I’ve just been on line with the Crystal Lake Public Library and ordered the movie! As an animal lover, I’m familiar with St. Francis of Assisi, but I learned oh-so-much-more in Sam Juliano’s review. Please visit — you’ll be glad you did!

      • You are a sweetheart Laurie! Thanks so much for that! You really floored me here with this reply!!!

        I am really excited that you will soon be watching this film, and I can’t wait to hear your response!!!!

      • You’re welcome, Sam. It will be a week, or so, before it comes in. My library in Crystal Lake only had a VHS version of Brother Sun Sister Moon. They’re ordering a DVD copy for me on the inter-library system and will let me know when I can come pick it up. Have a fantastic week!

  12. I’m late but I have a note from my…from my editor. Yeah, that’s it.
    I’m late but I’m sure glad I came.
    My favourite colour has changed a lot over the years but interesting it has mostly been one of the night colours –blue and purple. Only for a short period when I was in my mid-twenties was among the day colours –red.
    My least favourite colour is yellow.
    I’ve been described as being a calm person. Do you see a correlation? Or is this simply a coincidence?
    I will endeavour not to be tardy again.

    • Leanne – Well, at least your dog didn’t eat your homework 🙂 Welcome to class, I’m glad you joined us. The night colors — blue and purple — make a lot of sense for you. They’re colors of the mind and as we “season,” (myself included) we tend to move into a more reflective place. TAnd to answer your question, Yes, that definitely speaks to the cool, calm, and collected personality.

      In your mid-twenties you were attracted to red — survival and self-preservation. That makes sense for that window of time. And not needing yellow in your life tells me that you’ve already got what it takes as it relates to personal power and self-definition.

      • Thank you so much, Laurie. I found your assessment very helpful and informative.
        Unfortunately, I will be away from my computer until Wednesday. I’m disappointed that I will miss the class but look forward to reading what transpires.
        All the best

  13. Prof Laurie,

    I have always loved blues & greens, and rejected pink. Right now my favorite colors are aqua and pinks–all of the shades. Hmmm…..that is very interesting!

    • Nan – I got to actually SEE you and your friend the other day in your love of the same color, so I know exactly which color your speaking of. And that’s PERFECT for someone who has to convey verbal concepts, ideas, and information on a consistent basis — a yoga teacher — and do it with gentle grace and flow. Pink, of course, is all about the Higher Heart chakra (aka the “P” or Peace chakra). Yep — it suits you well.

  14. Pingback: ‘On the Bowery,’ ‘The Town,’ ‘My Dog Tulip’ and Ozu on Monday Morning Diary « Wonders in the Dark

  15. Laurie, I don’t know the stone and I will look up the Dutch translation, but it would be wonderful to have one. Thank you for your offer to sent me one.

  16. Oh I’m looking forward to learning about colors and wellness. Used to hate green when I was a child. Now I love it. Since I’m a gardener and creative person, I love all colors. But there are so many incredible variations of green in the garden. Between the texture and the shape, it’s amazing what can be done with just one color.

    Just look at an Asian garden. Soothing and mostly only green….ah relaxation….

    • Beth – I know what you mean about the incredible variations of the color green. Many people think my favorite color is purple, but it’s actually green. I love it! Have you been to the all-green Zen Garden at the Chicago Botanical Gardens? I could sit for hours and just drink it in with my eyes.

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