The kaleidoscope relaxes and energizes at the same time. But whether it is soothing or exhilarating, it generates feelings and emotions that affect our attitudes and actions. The end result of this tempered balance eases anxiety and produces joy and beauty - even in the midst of turmoil or tragedy.
The kaleidoscope does more than entertain, and its positive role goes beyond that of combining art and science in one captivating instrument. Indeed, the kaleidoscope is increasingly recognized for its therapeutic and healing value. It is used in many cancer clinics, hospice groups, and children's hospitals. Nurturing, it seems, ranks next to nutrition for maintaining health and vitality. And, according to many, nurturing is also the ultimate function of the kaleidoscope.
Dr. Hirotomo Ochi, Director of the Institute for Age Control in Fukoroi City, Japan, is more than a casual observer of the healing powers of of kaleidoscopes. His research group at the institute conducted numerous experiments that showed the simple act of looking through a kaleidoscope can help lower stress. An "Iris Corder" was used for the experiments, which is a googles-type piece of equipment with a built-in camera and computer chip that accurately counts how may times the user blinks.
The science of optometry confirms that increased blinking of the eyes is directly proportional to task difficulty, which in turn produces stress. In a relaxed situation, such as kaleidoscope viewing, the number of blinks decreases.
The most notable change in the blink rate for both men and women occurred when they viewed the Geo kaleidoscope. Their blink rate decreased to half that during the cognitive task. But, there is more involved in the therapeutic value of the kaleidoscope than eye blinking and reflex time. Sight is the information-collection organ that occupies almost 80 percent of the five sense. Dr Ochi points out that while sunshine is by far the most beneficial source of light for the human body, people stay inside with artificial lights 90 percent of the time This adds further stress. He sees the power of the kaleidoscope to relax the body, refresh the soul, and renew the spirit as a very positive means of healing.
*reprinted from Kaleidoscope Artistry by Cozy Baker, 2002