Color Therapy Basics

The Meaning of Colors

Here is a quick overview of the various colors and their meanings:

Red

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. Red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.

  • It has very high visibility that’s why stop signs, stoplights, and fire equipment are usually painted red.
  • In heraldry, red is used to indicate courage. It is the color found in many national flags.

Orange

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

  • To the human eyes, orange is seen as a very hot color, so it gives the sensation of heat.
  • Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. It is highly accepted among young people.
  • As a citrus color, orange is associated with healthy food and stimulates appetite.
  • Orange is the color of fall and harvest.
  • In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.
  • Orange has very high visibility, so you can use it to catch attention and highlight the most important elements of your design.
  • Orange is very effective for promoting food products and toys.
  • Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.
  • Red-orange corresponds to desire, passion, pleasure, domination, aggression, and thirst for action.

Yellow

Yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy.

  • When overused, yellow may have a disturbing influence; it is known that babies cry more in yellow rooms.
  • In heraldry, yellow indicates honor and loyalty. Later the meaning of yellow was connected with cowardice.
  • Dull (dingy) yellow represents caution, decay, sickness, and jealousy.
  • Light yellow is associated with intellect, freshness, and joy.

Green

Green is the color of nature. It symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility.

  • Sometimes green denotes lack of experience; for example, a ‘greenhorn’ is a novice.
  • In heraldry, green indicates growth and hope.
  • Dark green is associated with ambition, greed, and jealousy.
  • Yellow-green can indicate sickness, cowardice, discord, and jealousy.
  • Olive green is the traditional color of peace.

Blue

Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.

  • Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness.
  • In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.
  • You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water).
  • Blue is linked to consciousness and intellect.
  • Blue is a masculine color; according to studies, it is highly accepted among males.
  • Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America.
  • Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite.
  • When used together with warm colors like yellow or red, blue can create high-impact, vibrant designs; for example, blue-yellow-red is a perfect color scheme for a superhero.
  • Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
  • Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

Purple

Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition.

  • It conveys wealth and extravagance.
  • Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic.
  • Almost 75 percent children prefer purple to all the other colors.
  • Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial.
  • Light purple evokes romantic and nostalgic feelings.
  • Dark purple evokes gloom and sad feelings. It can cause frustration.

White

White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, and purity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation.

  • White can represent a successful beginning.
  • In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.
  • In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow.
  • You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products.
  • White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations
  • Angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes.
  • White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products.
  • White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.

Black

Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes).

  • It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, ‘black death’).
  • Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes).
  • In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief.
  • Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but the black background diminishes readability.
  • A black suit or dress can make you look thinner.
  • When designing for a gallery of painting or photography, you can use a black or gray background to make other colors stand out.
  • Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.

Other Colors:

  • Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship. It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
  • Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
  • Gold evokes the feeling of prestige. The meaning of gold is illumination, wisdom, and wealth. Gold often symbolizes high quality.
  • Aqua is associated with emotional healing and protection.

Submitted by Raetta Parker

How Color Effects Us

“Colours win you over more and more. A certain blue enters your soul. A certain red has an effect on your blood pressure. A certain colour has a tonic effect. A new era is opening.” ~Henri Matisse 

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Physical color in the environment affects our moods, relationships, and well being. As a tool for healing, color can be gazed at, beamed as healing light, meditated on, bathed in, worn, used in art, and in ritual such as candle magic and mandala work and painting. The colors you wear and see in your surroundings have a huge but perhaps largely subconscious effect on your moods, actions, and mental emotional states of being and function. We can use color as a tool to create wellness and contentment, to incite passion or anger, to calm and soothe, to express frivolity or seriousness.

Marketing experts, psychologists, advertisers and designers have long used color, to affect you directly. The color in your surroundings has amazing power to affect your moods and decisions. The packaging on anything you buy has had the color scheme carefully worked out to encourage you to buy it.

Restaurant color themes are often designed around appetite promoting colors such as reds and oranges and colors designed to affect how long you will want to stay in the particular room depending on the kind of turnover they need. The colors of your food can increase or destroy your appetite.

Researchers exposed a group of volunteers to a range of colors and lights. They found that blue and green made male subjects feel happier, while blue, purple and orange did the same for women. Everything is made up of electromagnetic energy vibrating at different frequencies that correspond to sound, light and color.

We are drawn to the colors needed to create balance in our lives, the goal in all healing. Colors attract … certain clothing and accessories, colors in our homes, and even the foods we eat.

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