The Health Benefits of Sun-Gazing

Harnessing the power of light to brighten the winter months

Experiencing natural light as much as possible is one of the best ways to boost your mental health during the winter months when SAD Seasaonal Affective Disorder is rife. When the days are shorter there is less opportunity to get your dose of Vitamin D from the sun, but when it stays hidden behind the clouds all day, natural light will still give you a positive boost of serotonin, making you feel happier.

Natural light therapy owes its healing properties to the sun and being able to harness sunlight as part of your daily routine can have profound effects. One way you can do this is trying 'sun gazing' a meditative practice that works by looking at sunlight. Before you try it yourself, have a read of this article to ensure you're full prepared and know how to do it safely. 

Sun gazing meditation

The sun is the sole source of energy to the earth and the solar energy it gives us has been revered since the earliest civilisations. For early people, their routine was determined by the movements of sun during the day, governed by sunrise and sunset. In more recent times having such a strong connection to the natural rhythms of the sun has been lost. Sun gazing is a form of meditation that allows us to re-connect with this natural life force. In its most basic form it involves looking at the sun and being charged by its energy, which we can then take away, and harness in our day.

The benefits of sun gazing

Benefits for mental health
Being in the sun increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, which lift our mood. The fact that this meditation takes place alfresco means we have to go outside which is always beneficial for mental health. In some ways where you choose to do your sun gazing will improve your mental wellbeing even more. If you can only watch the sun from say a busy street it’s likely to feel less impactful than being in a natural landscape perhaps by water which is where I do my sun gazing, or on a hill where you’ll feel closer to the sun, if you can get to this type of space then the overall mental health benefits will be greater.

Benefits for eyes
Light enters our body through several ways and one of these is through our eyes. Within the eye’s retina, there are photosensitive cells which connect with our pituary gland, this gland links to different areas of energy in our body for example, our brain. When light is received by the pituary gland it makes the mind and body feel more balanced.

Benefits for spirituality
On a spiritual level, harnessing solar energy re-charges us and literally lifts our spirits. When we’re in the meditative state of sun gazing we can focus on our inner desires and being able to do this can help us manifest and attract the right energies that we need in our life at that time. This could relate to our career, relationships, or personal growth.

Our body clock
Being connected to the sun and sunlight through sun gazing allows our body’s circadian rhythms to function properly. This is when our body is in sync with daylight hours and night time and is the energy that makes our body clock wake up at a regular time in the morning and go to sleep when its dark. When your body is in sync in this way your metabolism is better which is beneficial for your overall health.

Step-by-step to sun gaze

Before you begin

· For sun-gazing to be effective it’s essential that you observe the meditation outside. Even if sunlight floods in through your windows, the glass is a barrier to the energy that the sun rays radiate, so go outside into a spot where you can fully observe the sun. Similarly, it’s advised that you don’t wear glasses or contact lenses.

· Purists advise that sun gazing is done barefoot as that way you’ll be more connected to the earth. As sun gazing occurs outside this may not always be possible, if you have a private garden or balcony it may be fine, but in a public space it’s less likely to be feasible, so don’t worry about this too much, make a decision that works best for you.

The ritual

*Prepare as you would with other meditations by taking some deep breaths and stretching out and loosening up your body

*Keep your eyes open and look directly at the sun. To start with, aim for just a few seconds. Then look at the sun again, this time for a little longer. Repeat and increase the time you look at the sun for. A beginner may be able to build up to around five minutes after a couple of sessions, while a more experienced sun gazer may be able to look directly at the sun for half and hour, build up to the length that best suits you.

*If looking at the sun feels uncomfortable then look away, instead focus on the area surrounding the sun, such as the halo or space around it. You also don’t need to keep your eyes fully open, if you need to squint then you can.

*Each time you do the sun gaze focus on your breathing, keep your body relaxed and allow the sunlight to radiate onto you. Take a moment to let the light energy enter and flow through your body. This will wake up your skin, your blood, your chakras, your organs, your muscles and your bones.

*If standing stationery feels too intense then introduce movements like stretches, in facts it’s best to end with some stretches when your meditation comes to a natural end.

Safety concerns to consider before undertaking sun gazing

The main aspect to be aware of when sun gazing is the time of day you do it. Staring at the sun when it’s at it’s brightest (usually midday) is when the UV rays are at their strongest and this can be harmful to your eyes and skin, causing damage to both. The two best times to do sun gazing are just before sunrise. This first early morning sun of the day has the lowest UV rays. 

Similarly at sunset when the sun is present but not glaring with a blinding light, you can also observe sun gazing safely. If you have particularly sensitive skin or other concerns then you may want to wear an SPF on your face before you sun-gaze, which is beneficial for skin every day, as remember that sun rays and UV rays can still affect us on non-sunny days, or when the sun is hidden behind clouds.

How you'll fee after sun gazing

* Energised – one of the main benefits of sun gazing, particularly when you observe in the morning, as the solar energy acts as a fuel for the rest of the day. This may explain, why some people experience a feeling that their hunger is supressed, they don’t feel the need to eat as much because the solar energy is keeping them going. Solar energy also reduces tiredness and lethargy.

* Happy - the general mood-boosting feeling you experience from any form of light or colour therapy, which is that sunlight increases serotonin and dopamine making us feel happy. 

*Better clarity and focus – this in part is related to sun gazing taking place outside as time spent in the fresh air will clear your head. But at the same time, when you focus your mind and body on the sun you will form a deep connection with it and this energy will naturally calm your mind and encourage the sensation of clarity and focus. 

*Improvements to your health – the sun has healing properties and certainly when the practises of chromotherapy, or colour therapy were first recognised it was based on the beliefs that the sun can cure illnesses and this is something recognised by ayurvedic and TCM practitioners who undertake colour therapy treatments. A lack of sun can lead to vitamin D deficiency which impacts bones leading to conditions like rickets - so exposure to the sun is essential for human life, just like drinking water.

Does this article sound familiar? Some of  these words appeared in an article about sun gazing on US website Healthline, which I provided advice and information for.