E is for Elements

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Each of the traditional elements—earth, air, fire, and water—is associated with traits, meanings, and a direction on the compass. The information in this post is for readers in the Northern hemisphere. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, please use the opposite correspondences:

Earth is associated with the north, the season of autumn, and the colors green and brown. Zodiacally speaking, the element of earth corresponds to Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Considered the ultimate feminine element, the Earth is fertile and has the aspects of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Earth element is thought of as nurturing, stable, and full of strength and endurance.  

Air is associated with the east, the season of spring, and the colors yellow and white. Zodiacally speaking, the element of air corresponds to Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Considered the ultimate communication element, this masculine energy is wise and has the aspects of intellect, focus, and telepathy. It supports the powers of the mind—intellect and claircognizance.

Fire is associated with the south, the season of summer, and the colors red and orange. Zodiacally speaking, the element of fire corresponds to Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Considered the ultimate masculine element, fire is associated with strong will, vitality, and endurance. Fire creates and destroys; it can heal or harm; it purifies. And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it can transform.

Water is associated with the west, the season of winter, and the color blue. Zodiacally speaking the element of water corresponds to Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Considered the most cleansing of the elements, this feminine element (Goddess energy) is associated with emotional healing. It is used in many spiritual traditions for consecration—setting something apart as holy.

Spirit is sometimes referred to as the fifth element. Spirit transcends, yet is part of all the other elements; it has no direction, yet encompasses all directions; it’s beyond seasons and times, yet is all seasons and time. It is the source of human love and compassion.

Depending on the culture and tradition, elements are used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation, and Zen practices. And while sometimes identified differently than I’ve described here, the basic meaning is the same.

Which of the elements do you resonate with the most?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan


© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

The Color of Wellness – Continued

Tobermory Bay, Isle of Mull, Scotland

When the ferry pulls into the bay in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, you can’t help but grin at the colorful buildings as they greet you from the waterfront.

People react to color. It triggers responses at the subconscious level—personal associations, memories, and vibrations. We express ourselves through the colors we wear and surround ourselves with. We’re irresistibly drawn to certain colors and repelled by others. Psychologists have found that colors affect our preferences, character, behavior, and personality. The world-famous psychological test—The Lüscher Color Test—bases color as indicators of basic personality traits.

Color also affects our response to food. For example, in fast food restaurants the décor is often designed around appetite-promoting colors which include red, yellow, and orange. We see these colors so often in marketing campaigns that we not only associate those colors with food, but with the idea of increasing the portion size on our plate. As a society we’ve come to refer to this as “super sizing.”

Each color has a variety of shades. For instance, pure colors are bright or high chroma. Muted colors are lower intensity than the pure colors. Shaded colors have even lower color intensity than muted colors. Every shade of color can speak volumes about your personal style, without you saying a word. And while color perception is highly personal and connects directly with individual memories and emotions, it has a universal language.

We’ve all heard the sayings: “Red with anger,” “Red-blooded,” “Yellow-bellied,” “Golden experience,” “Green with envy,” “Give the green light,” “Feeling blue,” “A black mood,” “White as sheep,” “White elephant,” and “A colorful character.”

Color has remarkable therapeutic benefit. The pineal gland secretes serotonin which has an uplifting effect. It helps us to stay aware and alert. It’s stimulated by daylight and the colors yellow, orange, and red.

Melatonin—a naturally occurring hormone that helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles—has a sedative effect. It’s stimulated by night and the colors green, blue, and purple. People suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—a specific type of depression in winter months—have high levels of melatonin due to lack of sunlight. They respond well to therapy with a full-spectrum white light.

Color produces moods, feelings, and sensations that almost everyone recognizes. Many people use color to transform the place they live into a place they love. In each of the next seven “classes” we’ll take a close look at specific colors and how they can help to unleash the unlimited potential and possibility of different aspects of your fundamental nature.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

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.