HEALING WITH DESIGN AND COMMUNICATIONS: AN EDUCATIONAL APPROACH
The ideas presented in this essay cross many boundaries. But why should I write this paper now when we are at the very early and controversial stages of a quest to understand how we behave, think, reason and respond using physics, brain theory and vibrational therapies? The reason is that I believe this essay brings together diverse experimental data and theory that support a new educational model for designers. A model that successfully combines design and communication art with innovative healing therapies
Not all communication arts heal, but all healing arts have root in communication. The idea that graphic design has curative powers may not be the first thing on a designer's mind, but it is a power that, if harnessed, can be among the most responsible things a designer can do. Steve Heller, in response to, Healing with Design and Communications: An Educational Approach
INTRODUCTION TO ENERGY
When Communication Arts and Healing Arts merge the potential for vast systems of healing and learning can occur. In the recent past, vibrational studies and therapies have focussed solely on the individual. Believably, Vibrational Medicine combined with Communication and Design techniques opens the doors for systematic healing and learning far beyond individual therapies. Through the appropriate uses of sound, light, color, pattern and symbol, it is possible to change vibrations and currents in the mind and body. To understand this theory, we must explore the nature of medical science in its current and evolutionary state and its relationship to both Newtonian and Quantum Physics. If designers, like the medical profession, will begin to incorporate the multidimensional systems of life - molecular biology, biochemistry, quantum physics as well as ancient modes of healing - with design strategies, the potential exists to extend the framework of Communications into a vast system of creativity, learning and healing.
In the recent past,
medicine has viewed the human body as a biomachine, a mere clockwork of
biological gears and parts that can be tweaked and replaced. A new,
world view emerges, however, that regards the body as a complex, energy
system. Both Quantum Physics and Eastern Medical Practices view reality
as a continuous flow of change. There are observable, definitive
connections between emotions, sensations, nerve impulses, chemical
reactions, images, sound and light. The human body is composed of
dynamic chemical, electrical, light-based, biomagnetic, spiritual,
subtle and magnetic energy systems that work together to create harmony
in our bodies in relation to our environments. Therefore, energy is the
common link between mind, body and soul.
Accordingly, the body has a unique energetic relationship to the world, taking in, processing and emitting various forms of energy on a constant basis. Vibrating protons and electrons that make up every cell in the body form everything in life. Matter, itself, is simply congealed energy, slow moving molecules frozen in form. Thus, biochemical molecules that make up the human body are forms of vibrating energy; they emit wave patterns of varying frequencies. If everything has its own unique frequency system, then it stands to reason that the human body is a vast system of energy that resonates, expands and contracts to other frequencies emitted from other substances around it. These patterns, or scientifically measurable energy fields, that make up the body include properties of light, color, sound, heat magnetism and electromagnetism. Since energy moves in the form of wave patterns or frequencies, then, movement, thoughts, and emotions must elicit specific brainwave patterns. As such, our energy fields are already reacting to any external energy with which it comes into contact before we are even consciously aware of it, if ever. William Collinge states, Einstein showed through physics what sages have known for thousands of years: everything in our material world - animate and inanimate- is made up of energy, and everything radiates energy energy is the bridge between spirit and matter.
From ancient practices to contemporary scientific thought, the body is viewed as a system of energy to which new vibrational approaches are being introduced regularly for increased emotional and physical health. Vibrational medicine simply provides a scientific model that suggests possible ways that health or illness might be affected via the body s energetic relationship to the world around it. The mental body, where and how the mind receives, processes and distributes information, has a correlating effect on the physical body. Psychic distress often manifests itself physically when left untreated. The fundamental rule in treating the body energetically is in treating the whole individual, taking into account experiences and environment. Therefore, every identifiable system in the body must be kept in relative balance, internally and externally, in order to promote proper health and functionality. The use of vibration- light, color, sound, and biofeedback - on the body reveals the importance of restoring normal vibratory frequencies to help achieve that balance.
The study of Brain Wave Biofeedback can be used as the foundation for frequency theory. Defined as the science of quantifying subtle electrical information from the brain and activating a corrective frequency to normalize or stabilize brain frequencies, it is proven to enhance function and wellbeing. What Biofeedback demonstrates is that the brain emits waves and responds to different frequencies and that in altering frequencies in the brain you can alter emotion, function and behavior in very subtle ways. Research shows that the brain s electrical signals are subject to change and that people can be taught how to change them. Therefore, designers, through a concept known as bioentrainment, can utilize these vibrations to effectively regulate normal patterning on an energetic level for designing products and environments.
According to bioentrainment, the brain responds to oscillating light, sound or magnetic field energies by becoming entrained, or in sync, with the frequency at which the energy is pulsating. Entrainment is a phenomenon of resonance in physics. It is more easily defined as the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. This principle exists universally in chemistry, biology, medicine, psychology, sociology, astronomy and architecture. The classic example shows that when individual heart muscle cells are brought close together they begin pulsating in synchrony. Mozart s music has a similar effect on the cells in the body, producing a harmonious, elevated vibration that opens the mind for learning; this is regarded as the Mozart Effect. The process of reproducing the entrainment effect using audio technology was developed in the early 1970 s; with that came the process of creating audio-entraining binaural beat frequencies.
Brainwave entrainment and binaural beats occur naturally in our environment. Via sonic entrainment, brainwaves are synchronized to achieve states of relaxation, productivity and learning. In essence, normal vibratory frequency is restored to the mind. Sonic entrainment can effect the body on an emotional level which can then correspond to a change on the cellular level. Sound can transform negative repressed emotions to a state of equilibrium that has direct and immediate effects on our physiology. Entrainment music has the potential to  resonate with the listener s feelings energetically,  transform negative into positive, and  promote states of liveliness or serenity. Therefore, designers, as sound coordinator s, can match appropriate brainwave frequencies to transform the moods of individuals or large groups of people.
Light therapy works in a similar way. Syntonics reveals that varying frequencies of light will effect different energies in the body. The most basic form of light, sunlight, is critical to our health on both a cellular and material level. Sunlight, containing all wavelengths of light, consists of the entire electromagnetic spectrum on which we depend to exist. Numerous studies have shown that only natural light and full-spectrum artificial light have an altering effect on the body. So as light changes in the natural environment so do the body s daily rhythmic patterns involving mood, fertility, enzymatic and hormonal stems. Studies in Syntonics demonstrate the use of different portions of the light spectrum to treat an array of mind and bodily conditions, specifically through the eyes.
Harnessing full spectrum lighting and implementing it in all aspects of environmental and product design can only improve the way people function in the world. Artificial lighting that does not utilize full spectrum patterns can cause malillumination, whereby depriving the body of the most basic nutrient essential for continued growth and development. Studies show that when florescent lights are replaced with full spectrum lights in classrooms, ADD and hyperactivity decrease while learning, memory retention and optimism increase. Such studies demonstrate how a tiny adjustment of environmental design, such as lighting, could incur profound change in both attitude and health.
Another design adjustment would include color. Color comes from light as a distinguishable frequency in the electromagnetic field. Light visible to the naked eye is known as the visible spectrum, which consists of the colors red, orange, green, blue, indigo and violet. Each color found in the visible spectrum has its own wavelength. Each color frequency produces its own energy having a specific effect on the body. The body absorbs color through the vibration it emits. Through color we receive most of the energies we need to maintain the health of mind, body and soul. The National Institute of Mental Health has done studies showing that our mental health, behavior, and general efficiency depend largely on color balance.
Accordingly, one often uses color to describe physical, mental, emotional or spiritual states of being but can color actually alter these states? Yes. Color can excite, sedate, balance and motivate. Color preferences can reveal information about psychological states. Color/light therapists use these principles to restore cells to a level of balance and to stimulate healing processes. By learning how each color influences the mind and body, designers can effectively use color to alter energetic and physical states.
The effective use of color in design is not a new concept. Marketing and package designers associate color with sense response. For instance, the color red is often used in fast food restaurants as it stimulates nervous system and increases appetite. The objective is knowing how to use the vibrational frequencies of colors to promote health and healing on a large-scale. Studies reveal that when disruptive students are placed in blue classrooms, their aggression subsided dramatically. Even more interesting reports show that when England changed the color of its bridges from black to blue, suicide rates decreased by 50%. These studies prove that small changes in our education as designers can be instrumental in saving lives.
Even the imagery a designer chooses can have a powerful effect on wellness. Medical use of imagery has existed in many cultures for many centuries from ancient Egypt to Biblical times, Freud, Jung to the present day. Connections have been correlated between emotions, sensations and images determining that chemistry follows thought. Imagery representing optimism, enthusiasm and humor strengthen our healing systems. Adversely, imagery evoking pessimism and helplessness weaken them. The effects of this formula were demonstrated in an experiment using two test groups. One group was shown a film on Mother Teresa and her life s work; the other, WWII power struggles. The first group had lower stress levels and a heightened immune responsiveness. The second group showed a weakened immune response and depression. Thus when you influence the mind you influence the body. [Energy Medicine, Eden p. 248]
The new, world view teaches us that illness is not only attributed to toxins, germs and bacteria but also to chronic dysfunctional emotional energy patterns and unhealthy ways of relating to ourselves and the environment. If we can find ways to design better environments and systems of communications we have the opportunity to improve the quality of people s lives and the life systems of the planet. We can achieve this by better understanding integral relationships between body, mind spirit, health and illness and how energetic influences, such as color sound, motion, light and imagery, effect them. The exploration of Vibrational therapy reveals the power that elements we use in design have in altering energy frequencies and therefore states of learning and being. We live in an environment of increasing technology and geophysical forms of energy. The more compounded these levels of energy become, the more difficult it is for the body, mind and spirit to achieve an energetic equilibrium. Knowing the impact of the external environment on energy fields requires that we make more conscious efforts as to how we, as designers, are contributing vibrationally to natural environments. It further demands a greater sense of responsibility and attention to each individual as a highly sensitive and resonant antenna in relation to other individuals.
The power to create long-lasting, positive, and meaningful change as designers is in our hands if we can only harness the energies of light, magnetism, electromagnetic fields and other environmental energies that correspond with our bodies. If, as designers, we can begin to work with the energy systems appropriately and positively we have a greater chance of restoring balance both within the body and in the environment. When we, as a Global culture, truly begin to use the knowledge of vibrational medicine to appreciate our place in the greater scheme of things, and to understand and respect the spiritual evolutions of all living beings on this fragile planet earth, we will start to heal on many different physical, social, emotional and spiritual levels. [VM, p. 406]
Gaynor, Mitchell. Sounds of Healing, Broadway Books
Andrews, Ted. How to Heal with Color, Llewellyn Publications, July 1992
Eden, Donna. Energy Medicine, J P Tarcher. December 1999
Gerber, Richard, MD. Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century HarperCollins, 2000
Liberman, Jacob, O.D., Ph.D. Light: Medicine of the Future, Bear & Company
Oschman, James, L. Phd. Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis Churchill Livingstone, 2000
Robbins, Jim. A Symphony in the Brain: The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback, Atlantic Monthly Press
Shaw, Dr. Gordon L. Keeping Mozart in Mind, September 1999
Scientific Journal Articles:
Ott, JN, "Color and Light: Their Effects on Plants, Animals, and People", J. of Biosocial Research, 7(1), 1985.
Cox, RH, Shealy, CN, Cady, RK, Liss, S, "Pain Reduction and Relaxation with Brain Wave Synchronization (Photo-Stimulation)," J. of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine and Surgery, 17(1):32-34, 1996
Avery DH, "A Turning Point for Season Affective Disorder and Light Therapy Research?", Archives of General Psychiatry, 55(10):863 (1998).
Wohlfarth, H, "The Effects of Color-Psychodynamic Environmental Modification on Disciplinary Incidences in Elementary Schools over One School Year: A Controlled Study", The International J. of Biosocial Research, 6(1):44-53, 1984
About the Author
Chase A. Rogers founded her design studio, Fuelfactor, as a means to express her many interests in the form of innovative design practice techniques. Academically trained as writer, artist and designer, Chase finds joy in many mediums of expression. Her designs for print, packaging and new-media are about understanding, on the deepest levels, the impact and implications of the chemistry between the brand, the visual/emotional cues of its message and ethical design.