Ep25: The Science Behind Color & Chakra Therapies

May 12, 2020

What would our world be without colors? Imagine a sunset in grey, white and black, will it still be as pleasurable or relaxing for you?

I guess we’ll all agree that the answer is no. Colors are part of our lives that affects our energy and how we appreciate the world. In this episode, I will share the coolest research paper I made about color, energy, chakra, and how you can combine all these to help others heal and elevate their lives. We are nerding out and I am so excited to share the science behind color therapy and the chakras in our bodies.

After this episode, you’ll surely get more curious about colors and how it can help you and others heal and live a more colorful life. So listen in and enjoy!

Soul Stirring Quotes

“We find a lot of cool and interesting ways to help people open up to greater healing.”

“Talking about color and using color as a coach or a therapist to help other people gives you a lot of bang for your buck because it is so versatile.”

“Think about how you can begin to use the idea and framework of colors and Chakra to help other people to heal.”

“We can allow ourselves to get in touch with our experience with color without so much cognitive load on us.”

“Color therapy has a better chance of speaking to the unconscious part of ourselves.”

“Color appeals and applies to all human beings.”

Episode Timecodes:

  • 00:57 Heather’s big “why” in sharing about colors and Chakra therapy.

  • 03:53 Heather shares her research called “The Chromotherapy and the Chakras”.

  • 05:55 What is Chromotherapy? How does it work?

  • 09:17 Colors, energy, and your body.

  • 10:38 Colors, chakras, and your emotions.

  • 13:22 Why should we use color therapy to help others?

  • 14:50 Heather shares her fun activities using colors for clients.

Links Mentioned:

Connect with Heather

Email: hello@heatheraliceshea.com

Timezone: America/New_York

Website: heatheraliceshea.com


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Episode Transcript:

Today, we are talking about the science behind color and chakra therapies. One of the things that I have really been toying around with doing on the podcast is talking about alternative methods of healing, things that sort of fall outside of the traditional realm of medicine, whether that medicine is for the mind or for the body.

So I really appreciate your interest in listening to an episode that talks about the science behind, you know, healing with color and something as esoteric or strange as the chakras because I really think that as we expand into trying to bridge the gap between new ideas and new ways of doing things, and then also bringing in that, you know, sort of Western medicine, hey, doing the best we can to apply the scientific method to this stuff. I really think that’s where we find a lot of really cool and interesting ways to help people open up to greater healing.

So with that being said, I wanna talk a little bit about intervention that I have used with my clients in my coaching practice, as well as my clinical work as a mental health counselor.

I’ve always found it super fun to play around with color. And what I love about using color as a way of organizing our thoughts about ourselves and specifically using the chakra since the chakras, of course, you know, having a color associated with each. What I love about this is it’s something that we can all relate to. I think it lets our inner child come out and play. It is something that’s universal, right? Like, no matter who you are, where you are, how you were raised, what your history is, talking about color and using color as a coach or a therapist to help other people gain greater insight into how they can go about empowering themselves in the healing process, to me just gives you a lot of bang for your buck, because it is so versatile.

So if you are a coach or a therapist listening to this, I would invite you to do so. With the ear of, you know, taking in everything I’m about to say, and you know what we’re gonna cover on the pod through the lens of how can you begin to use the constructs and the idea and sort of the framework that the chakras and color gives you to help empower people to heal. And then, you know, if you’re just somebody listening to the pod, cuz you like intuition and you know, intuition slash science slash a little bit of woo slash a little bit of practical wisdom. If you’re someone listening to the pod for that, then I want you to think about what I’m about to offer from the perspective of how can you help yourself embrace these ideas and begin to apply some of the stuff we’re gonna talk about in your life.

Okay. So when I was in graduate school getting my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, the emphasis I really tried to take in my education was to focus on, you know, art, creativity. I investigated intuition in so far as I could in a traditional clinical program. So every chance I got really, I tried to write papers and research around, you know, energy-based methodologies and therapies that I thought were really cool. So in my art, my creativity and art class, I wrote a paper called chromotherapy and the chakras.

And it’s a pretty well research paper, if I do say myself and it’s all about it’s super short and I’m gonna read it here on the podcast and then kind of break it down. It’s written in, you know, kind of academic ise, but I know that my audience, I know that you listen to, this are super fricking smart and you know, are gonna love nerding out on all of this highfalutin $5 language.

So I’m gonna read the paper and we’re gonna talk about it. And why I’m excited to share this is I think that as alternative healers, we know that a lot of these energy-based methods work, but we don’t really know how they work or why they work. We just know they work. It’s like Zicam, right? Like nobody knows why it helps mitigate the common cold. We just know it does. And so we use it.

So the purpose of this podcast is to really help us get a grounded idea of, you know, how we can use systems that we really enjoy, like the chakras, like, you know, fun stuff like using color to help people step into their power for us to kind of root that into, grounded language that helps us talk about it in a way that is just, you know, more approachable and more, maybe I don’t wanna use the word realistic, but kind of, right? Like we’re taking it out of the realm of woo woo land or something that’s sort of this Eastern philosophy and applying Western paradigm insofar as we can so that we can understand it.

So I’m gonna read the paper and by the end of it, you’re gonna understand a little bit of how color therapy works, you know, where it began and how we can really begin to apply it to our lives. So you’re gonna hear the word chromotherapy, which is just a fancy $5 word for color therapy. And I will read the paper and then stop kind of, as I read and sort of, you know, add in parts and, you know, embellish and explain where I think it’s needed. Okay. So.

Chromotherapy or color therapy is an alternative method of healing that utilizes color frequencies of visible light to cure diseases of the mind and body. Current research suggests that mankind began formally investigating that therapeutic properties of light and color as a method of healing in 2000 BC. According to McGinness 2007, sunlight and color have been used as healing agents since the beginning of recorded time practiced in Greece, Ancient Egypt, China, and India. Typical color therapies in modernity consist of simple treatments, such as sitting in a painted room of that is painted as soothing color or using technological devices that emit electromagnetic color frequencies into specific parts of the body in order to restore health. And I have about five research papers listed there to support that claim. And I am not gonna read their names cuz top of them I can’t even pronounce.

Okay. So now we move on to color therapy in theory, how it works. Quantum physics as described by Einstein’s famous equation, E equals MC squared helps us understand that what we call matter and what we call energy are dual expressions of the same fundamental substrate of which our known universe is made.

Okay. So basically all that’s saying is energy and matter are exchangeable under certain conditions. Okay. So it’s, they’re basically tomato, tomato, they’re just under different conditions. The part of the substrate, we call atoms vibrate at a frequency below the speed of light and are therefore physical, making up the material world that is perceptible to human sensate functions, i. e. hearing, seeing, touch, taste, smelling. The part of the substance we refer to as subatomic particles, e. g. photons, vibrated a frequency above the speed of light and are therefore energetic, nonphysical, quote pure light energy, as the research suggests.

Simply stated everything in the universe, whether physical or nonphysical is energy and the nature of that energy is light. Therefore, the phenomenon we call color is an interaction between energy and matter comprising our physical world. The colors that are primary light source, i. e. the sun, emits has seven spectrums of color that are visible to the human eye. Those colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, ROY G BIV hala. Okay. That last part wasn’t in the paper. The human eye can detect light wavelengths between 380 NM and 780 NM. Each of the four mentioned seven colors and any combination thereof have a narrower and specific wavelength in which they operate within this larger wavelength spectrum, the 380 and the 780. For example, red operates within 635 and 700 NM wavelength. Therefore, any object holding this wavelength will appear you guessed it, the color red.

Okay, so now we’re gonna move into the part where this, all this maps onto the human body. Color, energy, and the human body. Chromotherapy theory postulates that the human body has seven subtle energy i. e. subatomic, anytime you hear the word energy, just think subatomic, has seven subtle energy centers in the body located vertically along the spine that correspond to each of the seven colors of visible light. These energy centers are referred to as chakras. To put it in another way, the subatomic particles of our nonvisible, energetic body that make up the atomic particles of our visible, material body emit an electromagnetic frequency that corresponds with each of these seven colors.

Health and proper functioning are believed to be held and restored when each of these chakras or energy centers are vibrating within their proper wavelength spectrum. Color therapy works by assisting these energy centers back into resonance with their natural color frequency range. Again, whole slew of references there supporting that claim.

Now we’re gonna talk about, so we’ve talked about color therapy, how it maps on energetically, how we connect specific colors with the human body and the energetic system in the human body. So now we’re gonna move on to how emotions map on. Color, chakras, and emotions. Research supports the claim that color and emotion are incontrovertibly linked, and that this link exists in universal fashion, across cultures. For example, red and black invoked feelings of anger and signified death and cooler colors like greens and blues, universally invoke feelings of calm and trust. Color has been shown to produce changes in the nervous system with longer wavelengths like red acting as a stimulant. In short, colors invoke specific emotions. Colors influence our emotional states. Color affects the functioning of the physical body. And color can help mitigate and manage dysfunctional and dysregulated emotional challenges faced by individuals regardless of their cultural background.

In other words, the energy centers of our body emit specific colors and those colors have specific emotions associated within the framework of chromotherapy. Emotional dysregulation can be ameliorated, that’s a $5 word for healed by using color as a system wide remedy for distress. Okay. So what we’re saying, there is color maps onto the human body via our chakra system and that within that color, associated with those specific parts of our physical body, emotions are actually tied in.

So we’re kind of seeing this whole mind body framework come into play here, using color and the chakras as a guide to start helping us improve all in our emotional health. So this next part talks about like how we would go about using it. So theoretical orientation and color within the counseling setting. But I also think we can talk about this within the coaching setting too.

In terms of nesting chromotherapy within a particular theoretical framework, research supports the notion that color therapy was born of psychoanalytic theories and is based on the idea that conflicts exist within and between the unconscious and conscious mind. In other words, at times, there are unresolved differences between how we feel on an unconscious level and how we think and feel at a conscious level. Color therapy allows one to discover these unconscious conflicts via analyzing images, symbols, and the use of color used in your client’s artwork.

Color therapy or more broadly art therapy allow one to experience their feelings before they can even articulate them, thereby circumventing resistance and aiding healing. In addition to psychoanalytic theory, the humanistic and existential traditions are also congruent with chromotherapy theory. So this is just saying that, okay, so why would we want to use something like color therapy? Why bother, right? Why not use another intervention?

And what is so neat about color therapy is it just maps onto that unconscious mind. We don’t have to sit and necessarily understand what’s wrong. We can just allow, you know, ourselves to get in touch with our experience with the color in a way that doesn’t have so much cognitive load on us. Right? Like we’re upset and we don’t really know why we’re upset, but that doesn’t mean we don’t always have to have, you know, a conscious ability to articulate what is wrong in order for us to begin the process of healing. So, color therapy works with that part of our mind that we might not be consciously aware of. But that unconscious part of ourselves that’s in conflict color therapy just has a better chance or opportunity at speaking to that part of a person.

It’s not asking you to understand it on this, you know, conscious level, right. It’s just saying, hey, let’s have an experience. Let’s see which of these colors resonate with you, which, you know, you can use colors to sort of have a person, have an initial reaction to something and then after that person has the experience of working with color and exploring color, then you get to have conversations about what came up for them. And then after you do that, the insight comes.

So now what I’d like to do is offer you if you are a coach or a therapist, some cool ways that you can begin to use color that is super duper fun with your clients. Okay. So one of them is you can have all seven of these colors out, or even just, I don’t even know tons of crayons, markers, whatever you want. It doesn’t have to just be the seven. It can be however many colors you want and ask the person to draw a picture and use the color that they are the most attracted to and use the color they are the least attracted to. So have ’em look at the colors and then, ooh, okay, I’m really attracted to the color red right now. I wanna use the color red and ooh, you know, the color yellow makes me feel ah. Okay. So you would ask them to draw something using these two colors. You give them some time to do it, you know, 10, 15 minutes.

And then at the end of it, you say to them, what was it like? Which color were you attracted to? Which were you repelled by? What was it like to create with a color that you were attracted to? What was it like to create with a color you were repelled by? And what does that remind you of? What were you thinking when you went through the process? You know, how did you feel when you began the process? How did you feel towards the, you know, the last bit of the process, you know, what changed for you? What didn’t. And so from that perspective, then you can talk to the person about. What came up as they were creating with these colors. And it’s really amazing what will come up for people. They’ll say things like, well, the color red reminded me of when I was a kid and, you know, we used to go to this lake and there was a bridge and the bridge was painted red. And I always loved that lake. And I always loved that bridge. And that was a great time in my childhood. And I’ve always loved the color red because of that. You know, so then from there you can say, okay, what did you love about that lake? Oh, it made me feel safe. Okay. Well, what, you know, in what way do you feel safe in your life today? In what way do you not feel safe in your life today? Right? Let’s and then from there you apply that to the current problem that they’re dealing with and their present day life. And thereby sort of providing insight into what is going on today in their life.

So it’s just a way to open up the client into a conversation that’s gonna bring up areas or aspects of their lived experience that they’re not necessarily consciously thinking of all the time, but that the color will invoke. It’s almost like it gives them permission to, and also direction to explore these experiences that they’ve had or emotions that maybe are just there underneath the surface that they’re not aware of.

Another really cool way of using it is let’s say, you know, your client has a problem with speaking their truth, right? Like they’re really trying to learn how to speak up for themselves. That is the, to speak your truth, that’s associated with the throat chakra, which is the color blue. So what you could do is you could say to your client, hey, would you be willing to wear blue this week, you know, you could have it as a bracelet. You could put on blue socks, you could wear blue shirts, you know, would you be willing to make a concerted effort to wear the color blue this week to symbolize your commitment and your desire to start opening up and speaking your truth more.

And that is such a cool way to have them anchored in the commitment to, really well, one feel empowered to speak their truth, but also to remember to do it, right? It’s almost like a totem symbol.

When I started using color therapy, both for myself and with my clients, I had little pop band bracelets with beads on it, and each of them, I had one for each chakra color, the ROY G BIV, and you know, according to how I felt that day I would get up and put a bracelet on that really resonated with me. You know, I would look at the colors and I would say, oh, you know, I’m feeling the green one today. Okay. I know that’s my heart chakra. Right and heart chakra is all about compassion and connection. And it’s also about intuition too. In addition to our third eye chakra, which is the color indigo, I could tell where I was at sort of in my day and in my life based on the colors that I really resonated with. For instance, I went through this whole period of my life, where I was super into the color yellow and that’s of course our solar plexus. So what this really said to me is, oh, okay, where am my life, am I learning, you know, to really stand my ground and implement my will in the world because that’s our solar plexus, right?

It’s our ability. It’s our, I am. It’s, hey, no, I’m here. This is me. I’m here. And I have a say so. And I have a will that I’m going to exert in the world. So these are just a few ideas on how you can begin to play around with it. But like I said earlier, you know, when I started reading the paper, what is so great about this is it works for everyone.

You know, we live in a time right now where you know, different strokes for different folks. There, it is very, very hard to, you know, I think to speak everyone’s language in life right now. We are all so unique and so beautifully complex and individualized, but color. Color is something that appeals and applies to all human beings.

So I am going to take this paper that I wrote and in the show notes, there’s gonna be a link to it. So you can download the paper and, you know, there’s a reference list. If you wanna look at the research articles that I use to write this paper, please feel free to do so. And I would really encourage you to do more of your own research into the chakra system. Of course, you know, I didn’t cover exactly what the chakras are in this podcast. I do have a previous podcast with Tamara Arnold. I can’t remember the episode number of that, but I would highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about the chakras in color therapy to listen to that episode, I did with her.

She does a great job of walking you through the chakra system. So if this appeals to you, please take this, you know, as the first step in using color and the chakra system, as a way to begin helping your clients open up to deeper conversations that allow them to get to know themselves and what they need in a more profound and better way.

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.