What are Your Colors?

By Laura Gordon

I’ve been contemplating sacred space over the last little while and want to share with you some of my thoughts as well as the thoughts of others over the next few blogs I create.
As massage therapists we have a most intimate and yet impersonal connection with everyone who lies on our massage table. Have we created a place in which they can relax from the stress of their daily lives and feel safe – a sacred space? In school we do not devote much time discussing the influence of light, color, sound, and music in creating a room that is calming and soothing. So here is a brief look into it.
I’ll cover light and color first. Did you know that color has a vibration? It’s really a study all unto itself but the long a short of it, so to speak, according to a NASA website (http://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ems/visible.html) is: “Visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves (aka vibrations) we can see. We see these waves as the colors of the rainbow. Each color has a different wavelength. Red has the longest wavelength and violet has the shortest wavelength. When all the waves are seen together, they make white light.
When white light shines through a prism, the white light is broken apart into the colors of the visible light spectrum. Water vapor in the atmosphere can also break apart wavelengths creating a rainbow.”

From long ago to today, architects of Hindu, Buddhist, Islam & Christian religions have used light and colors to create a sense of the sacred such as the use of the sun’s angle creating shadows and light that “dance” across the room through screens of wood or stone carved in geometric shapes or through stained glass windows. Adding candles only enhances the effect.
Others have studied the physiological and psychological effects color has on the body with a focus on healing and enhancing spiritual awakening. The chakras, or energy centers of the body, are a good example of how each color of the seven major colors of the rainbow resonates with one of the seven chakras of the body.

How can we take this knowledge and create a space, a sacred space, in which to welcome our clients? Obviously we can’t afford to hire a team of artisans and builders to recreate a cathedral or temple as an adjunct to our place of business, but perhaps we can incorporate a few ideas from them.

Here are some questions and possible answers regarding color to ask yourself when it comes time to create your massage therapy room:
What color of the walls would be soothing? Below is some interesting information on the psychological effect of color taken from the website: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/colors1.html#ixzz1Lb7Rzn1Y. Keep in mind the following relates to primary colors which are “loud” and excite the visual senses. So read with the thought that a muted hue or shade of the color that speaks to you is the goal:
• “Red: The most emotionally intense color, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing. It is also the color of love. Red clothing gets noticed and makes the wearer appear heavier. Since it is an extreme color, red clothing might not help people in negotiations or confrontations. Red cars are popular targets for thieves. In decorating, red is usually used as an accent. Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.

• The most romantic color, pink, is more tranquilizing. Sports teams sometimes paint the locker rooms used by opposing teams bright pink so their opponents will lose energy.

• Blue: The color of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colors. It causes the opposite reaction as red. Peaceful, tranquil blue causes the body to produce calming chemicals, so it is often used in bedrooms. Blue can also be cold and depressing. Fashion consultants recommend wearing blue to job interviews because it symbolizes loyalty. People are more productive in blue rooms. Studies show weightlifters are able to handle heavier weights in blue gyms.

• Green: Currently the most popular decorating color, green symbolizes nature. It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision. It is a calming, refreshing color. People waiting to appear on TV sit in “green rooms” to relax. Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients. Brides in the Middle Ages wore green to symbolize fertility. Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth. However, seamstresses often refuse to use green thread on the eve of a fashion show for fear it will bring bad luck.

• Yellow: Cheerful sunny yellow is an attention getter. While it is considered an optimistic color, people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms, and babies will cry more. It is the most difficult color for the eye to take in, so it can be overpowering if overused. Yellow enhances concentration, hence its use for legal pads. It also speeds metabolism.

• Purple: The color of royalty, purple connotes luxury, wealth, and sophistication. It is also feminine and romantic. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial.

• Brown: Solid, reliable brown is the color of earth and is abundant in nature. Light brown implies genuineness while dark brown is similar to wood or leather. Brown can also be sad and wistful. Men are more apt to say brown is one of their favorite colors.”

How about the color of the fabric for window dressing or wall covering? Wall covering? Why not find a color and or pattern that is soothing and pleasing to the eye to drape or hang on a wall or across the ceiling? If florescent tube lighting is on your ceiling, hanging a swath of fabric covering the ceiling can be most effective and create a more nurturing environment.

If there is a window, how can the light that comes from the window be used to enhance the feel of the room? Natural light is a wonderful thing with which to work. If there is a lot of light that comes through the window, muting its brightness can be done using draped fabric either in a formal or casual style that suits the look you want to create, bamboo shades for a more relaxed and possibly Eastern Oriental feeling, frosted or shaded/colored glass for a modern look are just a few ideas.
Wall and window treatment is just a start but an important one. It sets the environment, quality and tone of your work before you even begin. Take time to start with the basics and build on them. After selecting colors and the use of light adding framed images, furnishings, etc. to enhance the room will follow.

In your commentary below answer the following questions for me:
1. What color you would select for your room and why. Include what you hope to accomplish with your selection such as “I hope to create a room that will embrace my client with serenity.”
2. Is location of your place of work  important to you?
3. Where do you plan to practice your massage therapy?
4. What kind treatment would you do to the windows?
5. What will be your source of lighting for your therapy room(s)?

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