April 10, 2011

The Power of Blue

The ultimate national color therapy: The Men in Blue

Don't run away - this is not another cricket post! 

And no, although I was specially invited, I did not go around the country with the Indian team on their victory tour - or perhaps that is why they are still waiting to go. I told them clearly that I had bigger and better things to do; like this very important blog. Millions of people (roughly) are waiting for my weekly post - thank you, dear reader, for making it easy to keep my priorities straight. Thanks in particular to my charismatic reader Sol who gave me special strength to sit by my post when so many other temptations were lurking.

In my last post I wrote about my preference for the Indian cricket team, partially due to the team's magnificent jersey color of ultramarine blue. I am a blue person. Perhaps it is a vocational injury - after all I spend long hours at sea, admittedly often drunk on rum, but more often drunk on the plethora of blue hues of the ocean. In fact I am so clearly a Blue Person that one of my men, Sobrio, gets irritated with me if I wear anything else. Let me tell you about one such time.

One Sunday I wore a bright magenta pirate bandanna instead of my normal blue one (even pirates need to wash their bandannas once in a blue moon). I was standing in the bow gazing into the horizon through my monocular, minding my own business, when Sobrio approached, disturbing my delicious solitude. Even though I am his captain he looked at me with a certain degree of loathing. This is what transpired between us:   
-What's 'n yar skull? Pink, arr?!?  Where yar blu mind sailed way to, arrrr!?! Sobrio gruffed.
-Actually, it is magenta, I corrected him, disliking his lack of refinement.
-Maybe it's non me buzness, but that pink rag makes ya look like 'n old wench, he said with an air of finality as he turned to walk away.
-Watch yar words, arr, Sobrio - ya pompous gasbag - or ya'll wag yar way down the plank, I hissed, trying my best to sound pirately. That is my weakest spot - my father totally neglected my pirate jargon classes as I was growing up. But pompus gasbag was pretty good, really. I self-gratiously took a swig of rum and left all thoughts of Sobrio behind.
I admit - I am not the captain with the most forceful punch; some times I think my men keep me just for amusement. At any rate, I have stopped wearing that magenta bandanna. Personally I don't mind looking like an old wench, but I can't afford to irritate my men to the point where they might feel forced to mutiny. I have noticed that if I wear a dark magenta vest on the outside of my ultramarine blue pirate shirt, they don't mind. Balance is key, it seems.

Although apparently magenta is not an actual color - but leave the science for now. As a very fair-skinned Scandinavian, my choice of colors is limited. I can't wear red, yellow, orange, brown, white, or black. I stick mostly to shades of blue and magenta. Maybe that is why those two colors excite me most.

So, getting back to ultramarine blue. In its natural form it is a component of the semi-precious stone Lapis lazuli - that is why it is called Ultramarine - from the Latin azurrum ultramarinum, meaning "blue from beyond the sea". Lapis lazuli was mostly exported from the Badakhshan areas of what is today northeastern Afghanistan, where Lapis has been mined for 6000 years (!) In medieval times the Lapis would travel the Silk Road to Europe via the ports of Venice. Contracts from that time show its value to rival that of gold.

I have a friend who responds strongly to colors. She is highly intelligent, emotionally stable, of fine pedigree, and not even a tiny bit new-agish. She is convinced that colors have power, and told me that some colors even leave her feeling drugged. It is no wonder that in ancient cultures colors were believed to have therapeutic qualities. Today even to mention the concept color therapy - or chromotherapy - can cause hypertension in the scientific medical establishment. In fact, any mention of alternative medicine will get the serious doctors puffed up. At best serious doctors will credit any betterment in health from alternative medicine to the "placebo effect" - the step child of the medical establishment. However, the placebo effect is the crown jewel of psychosomatic medicine as it strongly suggests that psychosocial factors are heavily at play in matters of health. So, if colors can affect moods, then why not health? Let the experts disagree, but these are the suggestions about blue:

The Color Blue:
Cools down inflammations, fever, high blood pressure, stops bleeding, reliefs the bursting headaches, calms strong emotions like anger, aggression or hysteria. Brings tranquility. Anti-itching. Anti-irritation, anti-stress. Soothes suffering. The blue rays have also been called one of the greatest antiseptics in the world.
Source:  http://www.deeptrancenow.com/colortherapy.htm
The Medicine Buddha - the Stress Master Blaster

The ultramarine or Lapis lazuli blue is especially attractive and calming color known for its healing qualities. In Buddhism the Medicine Buddha, or Sangye Menla in Tibetan, is soaked in ultramarine blue. Blue light apparently has a demonstrable healing or relaxing effect on those who use it in visualization practice. To visualize a Blue Buddha will thus be the ultimate calming and relaxing practice, allowing the immune system to work its wonders. There are even powerful mantras one can recite to invoke calmness - click here to listen to one rendition of the mantra that goes (roughly):

May all beings benefit from the sublime love and power of Sangye Menla

In one of the main Buddhist sutras, Shakyamuni says about the Medicine Buddha:

I beseech you, Blessed Medicine Guru,
Whose sky-colored, holy body of lapis lazuli
Signifies omniscient wisdom and compassion
As vast as limitless space,
Please grant me your blessings.

     Source: http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/blue.htm

So, there you have it. My men keep me as a captain as they know I have a blue mind. Who wouldn't want to keep a captain who although low-scoring in gruffness and pirate jargon radiates omniscient wisdom and compassion?

Yours truly.

ps. Ok. So I'm going to sneak in one more cricket thing after all. The whole compassionate, wise captain rant got me back to it. If you want to see the epitome of a gracious, wise captain, please watch Sri Lanka's captain Sangakara's comments after the lost final:


  1. The Power of you...r writing
    makes me bananablue...? or

    Ehh..not. Ok. I admit my poem above isn´t good writing, BUT your essay is. Inspirational, interesting and lots of laughter. Especially this:

    "I admit - I am not the captain with the most forceful punch; some times I think my men keep me just for amusement. "

  2. Dear Fornavn; is that you, Sol, my charismatic reader, hiding behind that cute little poem? I thank you again and again, from the bottom of my heart- for listening to my funny stories!

  3. That was a nice read. If I need a color therapy - then I have to go Blue all the time - It seems to cure most of my weakness :-). Isn't that a garcious speech by Sangkara - loved it .

  4. Thanks, Shanthi - I think Sangakara is a kind of Medicine Buddha, no? Such a soothing person.