Betsy Ross, when choosing the colors of our beautiful flag, chose some mighty powerful colors!
Ayurveda is based on five sense therapies, and teaches that what we take in through our five senses determines our health. In other words, we are not just what we EAT – but also what we SEE, SMELL, FEEL, and HEAR!
This makes Betsy’s choice of colors quite significant. So what about the colors in our faithful Stars and Stripes?
Let’s begin with RED:
Red is made up of fire and air. This means that if red had a taste, it would be HOT! Red is, in fact, the hottest color, making it exciting, intense. It stimulates the senses more than any other color. It makes a bold statement – beckoning to be noticed, recognized, reckoned with. It’s the color of power. Being hot, it increase pitta dosha, so if you have a lot of pitta in your nature, you may want to minimize it’s use, especially during the summer, which is already hot! Red is also light and dry, making it not a great choice for vata dosha either, as vata already tends to be light and dry. However, in moderation it’s a great choice for kapha dosha, which benefits from it’s hot, dry, light, stimulating nature.
The white color is made of ether (space), and ether is known for it’s lack of qualities. And, white is often considered to be lacking in color. White has no heat, no moistness, no stability, no heaviness. What it does have, though, is what Dr. Halpern describes as a “natural, effortless, expansive and flowing nature.” In his book, “Healing Your Life: Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda,” Dr. Halpern goes on to say that “In the mind, the color white increases the flow of creative ideas…Because of its light qualities, it is not very grounding and so those prone to daydreaming – having their head in the clouds – should use this color as an accent only. Too much use of the color white can also increase anxiety. At the level of consciousness, the color white creates clarity and removes the obstructions that separate our individual awareness from divine awareness. Thus, white is useful for meditation and is considered to be the most spiritual of all colors as it supports spiritual growth and inner peace. In the body, the color white is purifying and helps to remove toxins. It also supports weight loss.” White is too light for excessive use by a vata person. It’s a great choice though for pitta, who benefits from it’s lightness, as it reduces intensity and keeps the body and mind cool. It works well with the color blue, which also balances pitta. Kapha benefits from white also, as it’s light and subtle nature brings balance to the heavy, gross qualities of kapha. White can help with weight gain, increase clarity, open up channels of inspiration. The best use of the color white is to promote meditation and spiritual awareness.
Blue is a great cooling summer color. It’s made of air and ether, the coldest of the elements, making it the coldest color. Because of it’s light, mobile, dry and sharp qualities, blue is expansive and opens the mind to possibilities. It’s also purifying, and supports purification of the blood. This is a great color for pitta, who tends to run hot. Blue is too cool and airy for vata though. Kapha can benefit from it’s light, dry and mobile qualities. Interestingly, blue lights are commonly used to treat jaundice in new born infants, showing how color can have a strong affect on the physiology of the body, along with the mind!
How to bring colors into your world? Consider how you dress, how you decorate your living spaces, what colors you choose to surround yourself with. As you can see, your choice of colors has a strong impact on your body and on your mind.
Nice job, Betsy. Old Glory makes a powerful, bold statement, with a perfect balance of hot and cold, and is infused with an expansiveness that opens us up to endless possibilities and creative inspiration!
By Dr. Marisa Jackson-Kinman, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., California College of Ayurveda faculty member
Reference: “Healing Your Life, Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda,” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder and Director of the California College of Ayurveda
Image: “The Birth of Old Glory,” painting by Percy Moran, 1862-1935, Library of Congress