Kaleidoscope Healing Powers


BY:  Marcia Clark, Artist


              Kaleidoscopes are art for body, mind and spirit.  They fill us with delight and often take us back to our childhoods and the wonder we experienced when looking through our first kaleidoscope.  The youthful toy creates joy for people of all ages and in all stages of their lives…whether the kaleidoscope is a simple cardboard scope with fuzzy mirrors or a piece of art with sophisticated optics.

            People soon discover that there is more to the fun and wonderment that is found in viewing the ever-changing patterns in their kaleidoscope…they discover the hidden power of the kaleidoscope.  The mystery and magic of the kaleidoscope fosters calmness and balance, helps us focus, enhances creativity, raises our spirits, helps us relax, and reduces stress.  Looking through the kaleidoscope engages both right and left sides of the brain which also aids in problem solving.

            Kaleidoscopes offer an outstanding opportunity for gentle healing.  A primary element in the healing process rests within the multitude of colors in the object end of the scope.  Ancient healing systems have long held that the varying wavelengths of different colors contain healing properties for targeted organs and organ systems.  For example, the color green is generally associated with the heart and healing.  A person seeking to calm and strengthen the heart would do well to spend quiet time viewing a scope, which features greens.  Someone seeking energy may want a scope with the warm colors of red and yellow and orange.

            Focus and Calming:  Directing ones gaze into a scope has the beneficial effect of focusing diffused energy.  When the visual field is reduced, it helps energy become contained and laser like.  Not only are distractions minimized, but also the presence of a defined geometric field enhances the ability to organize information.  By example, a child

seems fascinated with the slow flow that an oil wand scope produces and is relaxed for short periods of time.  Another element in this process is the fact that this is art that the individual participates in.  They look at the scope, which engages their sense of delight.  As they turn the scope and change the patterns, their mind is engaged.  As the patterns change, the right and left brain engage assisting in focusing, creativity, and relaxation.

            In the United States in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, there was a request from teachers working with hyperactive children.  The teachers thought that if they could get the children to look through a kaleidoscope for a short period of time that there would be a result of increased calmness and attention.  School administrators, staff psychologists, and teachers reported that if the child looked through a scope for 2 minutes, that they could gain the child’s attention for 2 hours.  Their findings showed that this simple activity lowered the child’s blood pressure, heart rate, and that their excitability levels were lowered and stabilized for a time.  This activity centered the youth, and it was found that this worked for all children.  The colors used in the kaleidoscopes were the cool colors of blue and green and purple or a combination of pastels.  These cool colors were found to be relaxing where the warmer colors of red, yellow, and orange are colors that energize and increase activity levels.

            The power of the kaleidoscope to aid in calming, focusing, relaxation and decreasing stress can also be attributed to the mandala pattern that is presented in the 2-mirror configuration of certain kaleidoscopes.  The mandala (flower pattern) has been used in religious meditation for thousands of years in the mid and far East.  It is also represented in the rose windows in major cathedrals in Europe.

             Scott Cole, a kaleidoscope artist and educator tells of a corporate executive who received a kaleidoscope from his wife.  He promptly took it to his office and placed it in a drawer.  After returning from his regular luncheon meetings, the executive found it difficult to relax and focus on his work.  One day he found the scope and began to look through it.  He found that this simple activity enabled him to make a transition from being diffused to being focused and balanced and thus able to return to his workday.  His colleagues began to visit his kaleidoscope and also found the healing power in looking through the scope.  Another corporate executive keeps her kaleidoscope on her desk and uses it routinely when she is feeling in a stressful situation, and finds that she returns to a state of balance and relaxation.  She says that when a staff member or colleague come to her office frustrated, angry, or tense she gives them her scope to view, and in a few minutes they are calmer and more focused.

             Beauty and Healing:  “Beauty feeds the human spirit.”  The magnificence of the color and pattern within the kaleidoscope restores the spirit and opens the soul to further joy.  When one is struggling with an acute or chronic illness, the result of beauty provides a welcome change and can stimulate endorphin release that can aid in healing.  I have given kaleidoscopes to several individuals who were undergoing chemotherapy or were dealing with a frightening illness.  One woman who took her kaleidoscope into her chemo treatments with her reported that she felt a sense of calmness during this stressful time.

             Another woman dealing with cancer uses her kaleidoscopes to elevate her spirits.  She says that, “When I’m feeling out of kilter, I look through the scopes and the beauty of the designs and light coming through never ceases to generate a feeling of awe and appreciation.  It’s similar to looking at a fine or favorite painting.  The emotional response is quite positive and generates energy, which lifts my spirits.  I feel refreshed and restored and I’m sure that this enhances healing.”

             Glenn Straub, a kaleidoscope artist and gallery owner tells the story about a scope he created called “Cathy’s Quilt.”  A woman and her husband asked him to make her a scope in the 4-mirror quilt pattern, as she was a quilter.  This was an extremely difficult mirror system to construct, and Glenn reports that he took quite some time working to get the mirrors perfect for her scope.  The woman’s husband returned to Glenn’s gallery and asked about the progress of her scope.  He then reported that his wife, Cathy, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had only 6 – 8 weeks to live.  Needless to say, the scope was completed within the week and sent to her.  She lived long enough to make a quilt for Glenn.  In fact, she lived 8 months, longer than ever anticipated.  She and her husband feel that this extra time that was given was due to the fact that she spent at least 2 hours each day looking through her kaleidoscope.

             Creativity and Problem Solving:  Kaleidoscopes are an avenue to creativity.  Simply out of habit, most people hold the kaleidoscope to their dominant eye, but switching the scope to the non-dominant eye stimulates the right hemisphere of the brain and unlocks creativity.  This can be compared to drawing with your non-dominant hand, which produces greater detail and creative perspective.  When we have greater access to our problem solving abilities – we are better able to manage our situation (health, work, and family) and explore alternatives that are beneficial to us.

            A writer and speaker uses her scopes to support creative problem solving and says that when looking for solutions to challenges, looking through her scopes seem to expand her thinking and thus she is more creative.  She then finds more alternative solutions and this in turn decreases her level of stress.  When stress levels go down, far less cortisol (stress hormone that is damaging to the immune system) is released.  She says, “By allowing me to tap into my creative problem solving ability, my scopes are supporting healing and health maintenance.”

             Not only do kaleidoscopes fill us with delight…they are truly hidden healers that help people relax and focus, they aid in creativity and problem solving, they reduce stress, they uplift our spirits, and they bring balance.  I believe that kaleidoscopes are a bridge to another level, to another place; and that is the place of the spirit.  Kaleidoscopes are art for body, mind and spirit. 


Note that this article is reprinted here with the writer's approval.  It was also included as a chapter in Dr. Hirotomo Ochi's book "Healing and Kaleidoscopes", published in Japan in 2002.