Qi: Light and Color
By Jenny T. Liu, M.A.



Imagine if you could see the full spectrum of wavelengths from infrared to ultraviolet. You would see that we are submerged, as Dr. John Pierrakos describes, "in a sea of fluid tinged rhythmically with brilliant colors which constantly changes hues, shimmers, and vibrates." You would see that everything glows and is constantly interacting and mutually affecting each other. You would see brighter or darker areas in your home as the energies flow through the space around you. At any given time, we are surrounded by infinite frequencies and are in essence connected to everything around us. Light or color is the essence of energy or qi. F. Birren, author of Color and Human Response, points out that "all civilizations since the beginning of man's existence worshipped the sun and from the sun came light and color." Ancient cultures across the world hold the belief that light or color is the source of life. Isaac Newton discovered this in 1666 when he passed a beam of light through a crystal prism which revealed the visible color spectrum.

In the Taoist philosophy of feng shui, everything is made of energy or qi. Qi is categorized into the Five Elements which is also known by their colors: earth is yellow; fire is red; water is black; wood is green; and metal is white. The names for different colors are a convention for people to refer to different wavelengths of light. Adhering to this mode of thought, everything is made of a variation of light energy or color.

Living things have adapted to light since the existence of the sun. Because of our physicality, we often forget that we are actually beings of light. Our eyes are not the only receptor of light. Our skin also absorbs light. Humans are also equipped with a pineal gland in the brain that is sensitive to light. Known as the third eye, the pineal gland produces neurohormones that control all of our body's cycles. The pineal gland is influenced by variations of small magnetic fields (less than .5 gauss, similar to the electromagnetic field that circulates the Earth's surface) which causes it to produce more or less neurohormones. Illuminating the head modifies the gland's hormone production even if the light is not directly reaching the gland. This demonstrates the electromagnetic characteristic of light.

Dr. T.R.C. Sissons explains that "Light does not merely lend illumination to human existence but exerts a powerful physical force, affecting many compounds within the body, some metabolic processes, the life and generation of cells ‹ even the rhythms of life. Light is ubiquitous, it can be manipulated and it is not entirely benign."

Humans, animals, and plants are all phototropic or constantly moving towards light, and cannot live without light. Plants need sun to grow. We indirectly live off light since animals and humans eat plants for energy. Apparently light is vital in maintaining bodily function.

We need to be exposed to the full spectrum of light in order to thrive. From Hasting's book, Health for the Whole Person, we are told that "different wavelengths stimulate different aspects of our physiology, all playing a vital role in our functioning." A condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) stems from the lack of exposure to full-spectrum light. SAD is often the result of the winter season when the days are shorter. People tend to sleep more, become sedentary, crave carbohydrates, gain weight, and avoid social interaction. Psychologically they are depressed. SAD has been cured by regular outdoor walks and daily exposure to full-spectrum lights.

We especially need natural light with its subtle variations that act on our well-being. The rhythm of dark and light from day and night and the full-spectrum of light is essential to our circadian rhythms (biological clock), endocrine, immune, sexual and nervous systems.

Attaining a balance of yin-yang or light and dark is innate in the feng shui philosophy. Although we cannot see the electromagnetic frequencies of the earth or planets, it is important for us to live in an environment that allows us to be synchronized with these forces.

In feng shui, based on their year of birth, every person has a specific frequency that is associated with the Five Elements. The Earth also has an electromagnetic field that circulates along its meridians. These frequencies vary in the eight directions and are also associated to the Five Elements through color: north - black; northeast - yellow; southeast - yellow; east - blue; southeast - green; south - red; west - white; and northwest - purple. Ideally, everyone should be properly aligned with the appropriate earth and cosmic forces.

Our response to color is an innate part of our biological system. As an earlier form of color therapy, feng shui uses color to affect a person's physical and psychological well-being. In feng shui, colors are specific wavelengths of energy associated to the Five Elements that are used to balance energies or stimulate specific reactions in ourselves.

In feng shui, we expose ourselves to colors that are harmonious with the body's qi, or that promotes our body's weaker frequencies. Because colors are frequencies similar to the biomagnetic frequency of the body, they can be synchronized or used to adjust and enhance our body's qi.

Similarly, in modern color therapy, colored light is shined into the eyes to stimulate or relax the eye nerves which in turn relax the body. Different colors have different effects. Blue/violet are known to reduce headaches; red increases blood pressure; yellow, green and blue relieves digestive ills and yellow is beneficial to certain mental disorders. Interestingly, these correspond with ancient feng shui color associations: violet or purple is associated with the head; red is associated with the heart; and yellow, green and blue are associated with the digestive organs.

Of course, there are also psychological and subjective responses to color which play a key role in feng shui. Because color can affect the mind through its symbolic meaning, it can be utilized to empower the mind. The colors in our wardrobe, room or artwork are often used in feng shui to enhance people's well-being or to assist in positive visualization of a goal.

Jenny Liu holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Design from UC Berkeley and a Masters Degree in Architecture from UCLA. She is an expert in the 5,000 year-old Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, who also shares her knowledge through seminars, workshops, periodicals and the Internet. Awarded for her Master's Thesis on Feng Shui, Ms. Liu is a fourth generation practitioner with her own consulting firm.

For more information, please see her website at http://www.liu-fengshui.com or for the library of her articles http://www.spiritweb.org\Spirit\feng-shui.html . If you have questions, you can also reach her at (818) 282-8536.

Return to the May/June Index page