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Working with Color and the Chakras

March 19, 2019
abstract rainbow colorful pattern background

Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. – Oscar Wilde

I wanted to post something fun and light-filled this month (it’s important not to become so weighed down by the pain of the world that this becomes impossible), and so decided to focus on colors – literally light in all its radiant glory. Colors are a big part of working with the chakras in both energy healing and spiritual traditions, and they are a modality anyone can embrace.

If you google colors and the chakras you will of course get the rainbow spectrum mapping that has become pretty much synonymous with the chakras in the West:

Root/1stchakra – red

Sacral/2ndchakra – orange

Navel/Solar Plexus/3rdchakra – yellow

Heart/4thchakra -green

Throat/5thchakra – blue

Third Eye/6thchakra – indigo (or sometimes purple)

Crown/7thchakra – violet (or sometimes white)

This sequence is called ROYGBIV- the actual spectrum of light as it appears progressively in a rainbow. As common as this color/chakra mapping currently is, it is not based on traditional chakra teachings. It evolved in the West in the last century, as Eastern chakra teachings migrated here and mixed with first Theosophy and then both the Human Potential and New Age movements. You will not find this chakra/color mapping in any classic Hindu or Buddhist text. Instead, within them you often find that different colors are visualized in the same chakra depending on the purpose of an exercise or meditation, rather than one chakra being associated with only one color (there are also variations in the number of chakras in each mapping, although all the in-body chakra mappings are a subset of this one.)

Rainbow chakra mapping

The fact that this rainbow mapping isn’t thousands of years old does not invalidate it however, and as I mentioned in my Chakra Levels posts I find this model very helpful when working with the chakras progressively and for empowering certain kinds of physical healing. The progressive nature of this mapping captures the shift in density and frequency that the chakras represent – the root chakra being the slowest vibrating and ‘densest’, therefore connected to our physical body and material world, while the crown is the fastest vibrating and lightest, tied to spirit. Working with these color gradations is often initially helpful for sensing the chakras physically, and is also great when working with the upward and downward pathways – upward for spiritual flow and downward for manifesting flow.

However, the more traditional way of working, in which different colors are visualized or received into a chakra depending on the deity or mandala one is working with, is also very powerful. In these cases, if you’re focused on a white light deity for example, you might be visualizing white light coming into your heart chakra, or if you are focused on an orange yantra, you might visualize orange light coming into your navel. Blue, white, and red feature prominently in a lot of Tibetan Buddhist chakra meditations, not always in the same locations, and gold and white are used a lot in Hindu deity meditations, in almost any chakra, but particularly the third eye and crown. There are truly infinite combinations.

Colors function on multiple levels – on one hand, they are vibrational, and do seem to have similar vibrational effects on pretty much everyone, regardless of age or culture (for example colors in the blue family are universally the most soothing.) But colors also have a cultural component – red tests quite differently depending on someone’s culture, as it is associated with good fortune and brides in the East, but in the West is considered a more martial and aggressive color. White is associated with weddings here, while in China it’s linked to funerals. These kinds of associations impact how we react to these colors.

What this means is that you should experiment. If you’re familiar with the chakra ROYGBIV mapping you can use the color of one chakra within another chakra to ‘infuse’ the energies of the first chakra into the second – for example, you could visualize red in the 3rd chakra to ground your will power, or green in the throat to bring heart to your communications. You can play with receiving a color into your entire body, not just one chakra, when you really need that energy to be dominant – yellow into your whole body before a sporting competition for example. You can also experiment with flow, and other colors that don’t appear in this mapping. Colors are the play of light, and by experimenting with them you empower your own fluidity in the dimensions of light that make up our world and beings.

Here are some of my favorite ways to use color and the chakras:

  • Visualize a dot of white light in each chakra that gradually grows larger – one at a time or simultaneously. This is for purifying, clearing, and empowering connection to Source/enlightenment (a way of connecting with the innermost layer of the chakras in the 3 level mapping I like to use.)
  • Draw red light up from earth into your root chakra, and then from there up through each chakra and through your crown up into the sky. This is a way of bringing the root energy through your entire system for energizing and clearing blocks to personal growth.
  • Bring gold light down from the sky into your crown, and then down through all of your chakras and into the earth. This brings awakening and clarifying energy all the way down into your body.
  • Visualize the rainbow spectrum (ROYGBIV) of light from root to crown one chakra at a time to reconnect to spiritual joy and expression.
  • Visualize the rainbow spectrum of light from crown to root one chakra at a time then working on manifesting a goal – moving from spirit/idea to matter.
  • Imagine your entire body receiving one color of light – literally from every direction into every cell. Practicing receiving in this way is soooo important – I find that women in particular have a difficult time just visualizing themselves receiving energy and light unconditionally in this way. See light flooding in from above, below, and all around you into your very cells. Decide the color of light according to what you most need. If you’re familiar with the common contemporary chakra associations you could pick one of those colors:

Red (root) – grounding, stability, support

Orange (sacral) – passion, creativity, sensuality, fluidity

Yellow (navel) – determination, organization, will

Green (heart) – love, compassion, connection

Blue (throat) – clarity, self-expression, honesty

Indigo (third eye) – insight, stillness, boundarylessness

Purple (crown) –  purpose, faith, spiritual connection

Others I like, based on other traditions:

Lavender – soothing, like a balm

Light green – gentle healing

Pink – nurturing, loving

Gold – enlightening

Play! bring colored light into your very cells and see how you respond. And see if you can really feel into the depths of these colors – we are so used to screens nowadays, and the limited perception of color they provide. There are an infinite number of colors – some colors humans cannot normally perceive, but it seems some animals can. See if you can stretch your perception to receive them.

Wishing you much color and joy in your life as Spring blooms.




5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 20, 2019 3:42 am

    Very interesting, I am an interior designer and work with color therapy theories all the time, I do feel like there is a vibrational component. I look forward to trying out absorbing a color in this way.

  2. Sara permalink
    March 25, 2019 1:40 pm

    Hi Lisa, what a lovely post for spring. I am trying to find resources on how this 7 chakra/rainbow system became the default in the west, do you know? I studied with a Tibetan Bon teacher for a long time and as you may know that system is quite different. I am just curious…thank you! – Sara

  3. March 26, 2019 2:52 am

    Hi Anon, I hope you enjoy playing with this, thank for commenting.

  4. March 26, 2019 2:56 am

    Hi Sara, I have also studied and worked with Tibetan systems, including a Tibetan Bon one. It is interesting that it has become so solidified here in the west. It is a useful mapping I think, but people can get too rigid about it. Here’s the best article I have found on how this system developed, but I have not validated the research myself:

    Cyndi Dale’s Complete Book of Chakras has a lot of info on alternate systems too. Thanks for commenting!

  5. May 17, 2019 6:05 am

    Thank you for this helpful article! It is really interesting to learn about colors and chakras.

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