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Colour your life up

easy ways to use colour psychology to live a vital life

This year I got a beautiful Christmas present from a dear friend, a book called "The Secret Lives of Colour", by historian Katia Sint Claire http://www.kassiastclair.com/books/. It is beautifully written and full of anecdotes.

I love colours. I feel them. I think about them. I use and mix them on my palette. I cannot even cook without thinking of the colours that will make the meal more attractive. I love mixing lipstick shades. If I meet someone new, one of the first things I want to know is what is their favourite colour.

"The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most" - John Ruskin

My house is full of colour. I paint the walls in shades that match my mood. I've had walls in all sorts of moods. For example, I went through a stressful period at work, so I painted the dining room in celadon (a sophisticated green used in Chinese ceramics wich Xu Lin, a poet, described as "carving light from the moon to dye the mountain stream". Greens make me feel calm and energized at the same time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shades_of_green. I've also had more fiery periods when my kitchen became magenta and the living room old pink.

Last time a painter came to help us with some house works he looked surprised when I showed him the tone I had chosen for the corridor: it was a deep shade of Prussian blue, with a hint of pine green and teal. "Are you sure?" he said. "I have never been asked to paint with this colour on a wall. Wouldn't you try this kind of beige which is very much in fashion these days?". Hell no. There is nothing beige about me...

Everything influences us: the psychology of colour

The psychology of colour is based on the mental and emotional effects colours have on us. Obviously, there are cultural and personal meanings to take into account, but even without following any prescribed recipes we can add colour psychology to our everyday life.

You may simply start by noticing how the surroundings affect you. Some places feel calm, others irritating. For example, I get extremely uncomfortable in an orange space (and the combination with heavy jazz can drive me crazy).

Generally, warm colours (red, orange) are proven to accelerate blood pressure and can thus be energizing but also invoke strong emotions like anger, while cool tones can be soothing. I find blues and purples foster my creativity. Lately, because where I live the winter is long and dark, I've needed to add some objects in deep warm yellow to my office.

If you want to know more about the common meanings and symbolism of colour, I found these charts very well done: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/resources/color-meanings-symbolism-charts/#.XDxwKVzds2x

How to use colour to increase focus and productivity

Most zen meditation and Buddhist teachers will say the same: focusing on the past deprives you of enjoying the present, focusing too much on the future does not allow you to live in the moment. Goals are per definition future-oriented. It may be that when you get up the first thing that comes to mind is a list of to-do's. This is fine, you cannot avoid dealing with deadlines and planning for what is important or urgent. Your to-do list will not stop, but you can make your day more productive by managing your energy.

Rather than focusing on goals, it is much more productive to focus on

your intention for the day from the point of view of

the emotional energy and character strengths that you want to invoke that day.

This is my personal morning colour practice. I enjoy it very much, it combines kinesthetic intelligence and physical awareness and can be used every morning or even before any challenging task or situation:

  1. After you have slowly awakened and taken care of your personal morning hygiene rituals, take a few minutes to prepare your mood and intention for the day.
  2. Take a deep breath and stretch your arms, reaching as far as you can. Inhale and exhale deeply.  Practice a few stretching yoga positions to elongate your body.  (there are several yoga or Pilates short practices that do not last more than a few minutes).
  3. Remind yourself kindly about the day ahead.  What is important today? Are you seeing clients? Having an important meeting? Giving a presentation? Need to take care of children? Are you entertaining family? 
  4. Once you have identified what is important for the day, think of the qualities and emotional state that will help you the most.  For example, if I have a public speaking appointment, I imagine the qualities of a good speaker: centred, calm, authentic.
  5. Then I think of a colour that matches those qualities.  I may want to radiate brilliant yellow energy, or the day requires me to be calm and collected and I will concentrate on a deep blue shade.
  6. Close your eyes and imagine you are breathing in the light that carries the colour and energy you will need that day.  It helps to move your arms rhythmically in soft movements while breathing in and out that beautiful energy. (you may also try combining this with some Xi-gong breathing exercises).  

If you are sceptical about imagining colours, simply meditate and about a time when you experienced the quality you are going to need that day. Take a few breaths while picturing yourself as energetic, patient, brave, calm or whatever other quality will serve you best that day.

Carry that intention with you. If you are exposed to events that make you disconnect to this emotional state, just invoke the colour you attached to it, and the experience will come to mind more easily.

Several of my clients have implemented this colour practice and they love it. It helps to cope with grey offices and the stress caused by the red-faced characters that abound in corner offices or take so much space on the news.

If you are curious about my painting palette you can check here or follow me on Instagram at mirnart@wisergems

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