Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ~Oscar Wilde
There is no question that as a human, you are a sensual being. You rely on your senses to help you both survive and enjoy the pleasures of life. Ayurveda, the ancient mind-body healing system developed in India, teaches that the body and mind are constantly exchanging energy and information with its environment. As a result, the five senses are considered gateways that can be used to help balance, nourish, and heal yourself.
Given their importance, it’s important to become conscious of the sensory impressions you are exposed to every day, favoring impulses that promote harmony versus discord. An easy way to begin practicing well-being through the senses is starting with the sense of sight and the power of color.
As children one of the big questions was always, “What is your favorite color?” This determined which crayon you would use the most, what shirts you liked, or what hair ties you wore. Something as simple as opening a fresh box of crayons and gazing upon the explosion of hues evoked some emotion—usually pleasure. Color was an important part of the canvas of your early life. If you think about it, it still is.
As you grew older, your color preferences may have shifted to reflect more practical uses or maybe they became an important part of how you express yourself. Either way, it has remained in the background of your consciousness, offering subtle influences. Take a moment to notice the colors that surround you. What feelings, if any, begin to arise? Do you notice a lack of color? Is there a dominant color? This is the first step toward bringing awareness around what kind of information is being gathered and its effect on you through the gateway of sight.
The Energy of Color
You can get technical and ponder the wavelengths and frequencies of the visible light spectrum (color). As a result, each color produces a specific energy output that influences its surroundings in different ways. Research has been done providing more insight into the effects of color such as this study that showed red (compared to gray and blue) improved motor function. Similarly, plants are also affected by the energy of various colors. This study showed that red and white mulch (compared to black and blue) improved the yield of cucumbers.
Just as plants have an innate response, so do you. You don’t grow in the same way, of course, but you respond physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember, you are in constant dynamic exchange with your environment and color is no exception.
Meanings of Colors
Ever notice how people who wear the brightest colors are often colorful themselves in demeaner and vibrancy? This is often a direct inner reflection of who they are; the colors they gravitate toward seem to complement their personality. Just being near this person and taking in the bright colors can often help boost your mood.
Sometimes, however, bright colors can trigger contrary emotions. Each individual is unique and you have your own needs and functionality to honor. Start to take notice of the effect colors have on you, and which colors attract or repel you.
Exploring the world of color means you will soon discover there are associated characteristics. You might be aware of them already—most of this is instinctual. As you read through this list, take note of any colors you have been embracing.
- Red: Energy, courageous, vital, aggressive, self-confidence
- Orange: Joy, wisdom, resourcefulness
- Yellow: Intellect, cheering, clarity, innovative
- Green: Balance, harmony, nature, compassion
- Blue: Knowledge, health, decisiveness, calming, loyalty
- Purple: Serenity, faith, royalty, peace
- White: Purity, innocent, optimistic, illumination
- Black: Silence, elegant, powerful, authority
You may have your own interpretation that is not on this list. Always use what works best for you. A fun exercise is to notice the colors in your daily life and note the impressions they give you. It may change day-to-day because you are an ever-evolving complex being.
The Influence of Doshas
Ayurveda recognizes five elements of nature—space, air, fire, water, and earth—as existing both inside and outside of you, serving as building blocks of nature’s diverse expressions. These five elements are organized into three mind-body principles called doshas in Sanskrit. The three doshas known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are responsible for every function of the mind and body. With the understanding of the power of the senses to promote healing, special attention can be placed on colors that bring balance to each dosha utilizing the power of sight.
Images and patterns are also taken into consideration to increase balance and harmony. Think about the last time you witnessed a beautiful sunset and how peaceful you felt. In contrast, think about a picture or movie you saw that was upsetting and notice how you feel it in your body and not just your mind.
If your dosha is mainly Vata (elements of air and space) often need grounding so mild pastel shades and earth tones are settling for you.
If your dosha is mainly Pitta (elements of fire and water), you often have a fiery nature and benefit from cool, soft colors, such as blues, greens, and white. Notice the colors resemble the ocean, which is pacifying for you.
If your dosha is mainly Kapha (elements of earth and water), you are often steady and grounded—too much so sometimes. Bright, strong, bold colors with vivid shapes and designs help to break up the feeling of being stuck you commonly experience.
You don’t have to necessarily know your dosha to determine what will be most beneficial to you. Simply look at the color charts and notice which one(s) you are drawn to and go based on that. Your inner knowledge is usually spot-on since it knows you best.
Live a Life of Color
If there is something in your life that you want more of, try incorporating the associated color into your life. For example, if you may want more creativity, orange is the color you would want to work with in whatever way suits you. It can be as small as using an orange cup for coffee or as large as painting your entire room. If you are unsure of the color you need, pick the first one that attracts you without thinking about it too much. Just having the intention of what you want it to mean will do all the work for you.
You can use the wisdom of Ayurveda and the concept of doshas to help provide some guidance as well. Here are ways to integrate color to begin enhancing your life and well-being:
- Food: Making your plate as colorful as possible is health promoting.
- Meditation: Try doing a visualization through the chakras.
- Clothing: Choose a color for the day for extra support—red for energy or black for authority.
- Walk in nature: Take a mindfulness walk in nature and notice all the colors down to the tiniest bud.
- Home: Ask yourself what vibes you want to create in each room and decorate using colors that correspond.
Obviously, there is no panacea and part of life is trying different things to see what helps to lighten the burden just a bit. This is simply one avenue into a whole world of self-exploration you can explore. Channel your inner child and be in awe once again of the colorful world you live in!