What is colour and how does it affect us? – Part One

As we enter autumn, nature feasts our eyes with a glorious display as she changes ‘clothes’ on her extraordinary catwalk. Everyday we are surrounded by colour and yet we so often take it for granted.

Colour is the same as sound: simply 40 octaves higher and the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Each colour has a certain wavelength and frequency of vibration: red has the longest and slowest frequency and violet has the shortest and quickest. At either end of the visible spectrum are many colours that we cannot see: infrared light and radio waves are beyond red, while ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma waves are beyond violet.

Primary colours – those which cannot be mixed or formed by any combination of other colours – are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colours are the combination of two primary colours: yellow and blue make green, red and yellow make orange, and red and blue make purple.

Interestingly, white light is made up of the blend of three primary colours: red-orange, green and blue-violet whereas black paint is the combination of red, blue and yellow.

Complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined, cancel each other out and produce either white or black. However, when they are placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those particular two colours and are therefore very important for healing. Try this experiment: stare at one of the primary colours: red, blue or yellow for a few moments and then look at a blank piece of white paper. If you look at red, you will see an after-image of green, if you look at blue, you will see an after-image of orange and if you look at yellow, you will see an after-image of violet.

Like everything else, colour is energy that we perceive in a particular way. We are most aware of colour entering us through our eyes but it also enters us through our skin, meaning that blind people are also affected by colour. Try holding your palms over a square of coloured paper or cloth and closing your eyes. Then try to distinguish between warm and cool colours and the feelings they give you.

There are many ways to become more aware of colour. We can walk out in nature and really look at the trees as they change; we can choose clothes more consciously to alter our mood; we can ponder our food cravings and observe which colours we instinctively need to eat; we can look at our homes and the colours we have chosen and see how these affect such aspects as our abilities to relax, make conversation and feel amorous.

Colour nourishes the body, affects the emotions, clarifies the mind and feeds the soul as Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American poet (1883 -1931) so beautifully wrote: “O let me bathe my soul in colours; let me swallow the sunset and drink the rainbow.”

So, whether it’s looking out of a window or enjoying a glorious walk through the woods, feast your soul, mind and body on colour and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Love Laurelle