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I’m not particularly a fan of the sun. Yup, Ol’ Sol and I have had a less than stellar track record over the past 29 years. First off, the sun makes me want to hibernate with a sun ray induced migraine. I sunburn faster than my one year old. I mean, even my scalp sunburns through my hair. In addition to my near allergy to daylight, I am NOT a morning person. Every cliché of the groggy girl stumbling through the halls to the coffee maker fit me to a tee.
So why, exactly, am I contemplating working a daily session of gazing into the morning sunrise into my routine? Why, I am so glad you asked!
Why Gaze at the Morning Sun?
There are two schools of thought surrounding morning sun therapy. One is known as heliotherapy, or sun bathing. This therapy is rather simple and involves simply basking in the morning sunlight and watching the changing colors of the morning sky. The other, sun gazing, takes sun therapy to a bit of an extreme and involves some rather controversial practices.
With sun gazing, at sunrise and sunset, when the sun is closest to the earth, sun gazers stand barefoot and still, and look directly at the sun for 10 seconds. Every day, 10 seconds are added and some sun gazers eventually reach a duration of 44 minutes. Let me clarify – this is NOT the method I intend to pursue.. not completely anyway.
I am planning on incorporating a healthy blend between the two extremes into my morning routine, which reaps the benefits of both practices. Both aspects of heliotherapy and sun gazing entails looking at or near the rising sun once per day – and only during the safe hour. The safe hour is anytime within a one hour window after sunrise.
Because the sun rays are free from harmful UV and infrared rays, which can be damaging to your eyes, morning sunlight, along with sunset sunlight, are the safest times to reap the benefits of the sun. Likewise, the gentle morning glow is free from the harmful effects of the midday sun, which is known for its role in increasing incidences of skin cancer, skin damage and premature aging.
I’ll explain how I intend to incorporate sun gazing into my daily routine after first answering the question I know you are dying to have the answer to… why even make it a goal to look into the sun anyway?!
Benefits of Sun Gazing and Heliotherapy
Since the dawn of time, humanity has drawn a strong correlation between the sun and health. From the Aztecs and Mayans to the ancient Egyptians and Romans, many past societies revered sunlight and claimed health and spiritual benefits to being in its natural rays. In some circles sun gazing was regularly practiced as an esoteric and holistic remedy.
Up until the past century or so, people lived and worked outdoors in the light of the sun. Their bodies were uniquely tuned in to nature, and they operated off of an internal clock that was set by none other than the sun itself. Now, however, we wake up in our homes to artificial light, get in our car and drive to indoor workplaces, and the only time we spend outdoors in the rays of natural light is simply walking back and forth to our vehicles.
Today, with modern science validating ancient assumptions, the benefits of being in the sun and its direct effect on human health is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Those who practice sun gazing in the mornings or during sunsets have been shown to have lower blood pressure, regulated blood sugar, healthier cholesterol levels, higher immunity and an increased white blood cell count.. and that’s just what has been proven through clinical studies!
Some of the other claimed benefits of watching the sunrise include:
– Relief of stress and tension
– Increased energy
– Boosted production of the feel good hormones serotonin and melatonin
– Improved eyesight
– Stimulation of the pineal gland
– Increased size of pineal gland (which generally shrinks with age)
– Increase in relaxation and focus
Sun gazing also has the added advantage of giving you a healthy dose of vitamin A and D during the one hour safe period window. Vitamin A is necessary for the health of the eye, and in fact is the only vitamin that the eye requires. Research also shows that sun gazing stimulates the pineal gland as the direct sunlight hits the eye, moves through the retinal-hypothalamic tract, and then hits the brain. This stimulates the pineal gland, known as the “master gland”, and boosts the secretion of melatonin and serotonin.. our “feel-good” hormones.
How I Plan To Sun Gaze
As wonderful and awesome sauce as all of this whole standing barefoot in the forest and gazing unblinkingly into the sun for 44 minutes straight sounds (ummmm, NOT), I am planning on taking a more practical approach to my daily dose of sun therapy.
First of all, like many Americans, I live in a rather crowded residential neighborhood. So unless I clear the confines of my neighborhood and sprawling city, I don’t have access to a straight view of the sun till it’s well into it’s one hour safe window. But I DO have a great view of the gentle rosy morning sunlight from my front porch.
And while I would love to assume some postcard perfect yoga pose while soaking in my morning sunlight, I am now the proud mother of a rather rambunctious one year old who likes to toddle around and generally get into any and every kind of mischief. (We’ve already had our share of running right into the road scares, and she’s only been walking for about one month now!) So I will have to enjoy the sunrise while chasing and otherwise occupying myself with my baby girl.
So my sun gazing goals look a little something like this:
Wake up before the sun. Change the baby, grab a cup of coffee, and head outside to water the plants and play in the yard with my overly-energetic-in-the-mornings toddler. If I get a spare moment to bask in the morning light, I’ll direct my gaze toward the approaching sun, and maybe do my morning Bible study on the front porch if Tessa will let me. Once the light loses it’s rosy glow, I’ll head inside to resume my morning routine of housework, editing photos for my photography business, blogging, and generally being a stay at home super mom.
My goals from this endeavor? I’d like to see how a regular dose of rosy sunshine and early rising effects my sleeping patterns, my energy levels, and the general tone of my day. I plan on starting this routine TOMORROW! I’ll update in about a month to report on my personal experience with sun gazing, so keep an eye out for my follow up post!
Have you tried sun gazing? Are you interested in giving it a whirl? Want to try a one month sun gazing trial with me? Share below!