Sun Gazing: Benefits, Risks, and Alternatives

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:10
Learn to safely experience the health benefits of sun exposureIf you've heard about the practice of sun gazing, you might be wondering what the benefits are (and whether or not it's safe). Although some people believe in the benefits of...
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If you’ve heard about the practice of sun gazing, you might be wondering what the benefits are (and whether or not it’s safe). Although some people believe in the benefits of sun gazing, healthcare professionals agree that it’s not safe to look directly at the sun. In fact, it can cause serious damage to your eyes. Luckily, there are many ways to experience the benefits of sun exposure and meditation without gazing directly at the sun. We’ll go over the definition of sun gazing and the possible risks and benefits. We’ll also explain how to do a modified version of sun gazing, as well as alternative options that combine sunshine and meditation, so keep reading!

Things You Should Know

  • Sun gazing is a meditative practice that traditionally involves looking directly at the sun. Healthcare professionals advise against this because it can injure your eyes.
  • Risks of traditional sun gazing include injury to your eye tissue, and, in extreme cases, permanent damage to your vision.
  • There are many benefits to sun exposure and meditation that don’t require direct sun gazing. These include improved mood, increased energy, and better sleep.
Section 1 of 5:

What is sun gazing?

  1. Sun gazing is the meditative practice of gazing at the sun.
    It typically involves looking directly at the sun during the very beginning of sunrise or the very end of sunset to connect with the sun’s energy. Though there is not much scientific evidence on the benefits or safety of sun gazing (and, in fact, healthcare professionals caution against it), many people who practice sun gazing believe that it promotes spiritual wellness and increases energy levels. Generally, people participate in sun gazing as part of their spiritual or meditation practice.[1]
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Section 2 of 5:

Suggested Benefits of Sun Gazing

  1. Step 1 Improved mood.
    People who practice sun gazing believe that it promotes positive feelings of inner peace and relaxation.[2] There isn’t evidence to support that sun gazing specifically carries these benefits. There is, however, evidence that sun exposure in general can boost your mood. Sunshine promotes serotonin production, which can have positive effects on mood. In fact, it’s thought that decreased serotonin from a lack of sun exposure can cause seasonal depression during the darker winter months.[3] Sun exposure also promotes vitamin D production, and depression has been linked to low vitamin D levels.[4]
  2. Step 2 Higher energy levels.
    Those who believe in sun gazing report that it improves their energy levels.[5] Evidence shows that sun exposure in general carries these benefits. Sun exposure regulates your circadian rhythms, which can lead to a healthier sleep cycle and a decrease in fatigue.[6] Circadian rhythms are 24-hour daily cycles, and they’re affected by light and darkness. Research shows that exposure to sunlight in the morning regulates your circadian rhythm and promotes a healthy sleep cycle, leading to better energy levels during the day.[7]
  3. Step 3 Better quality sleep.
    People who practice sun gazing believe it improves sleep quality.[8] Though there is no evidence of this specifically, there is evidence that sun exposure in general positively affects sleep. It regulates circadian rhythms, leading to more restful sleep.[9] It also regulates your body’s melatonin levels, which contributes to a healthy sleep-wake cycle and improved sleep quality.[10]
  4. Step 4 Spiritual benefits and psychic abilities.
    Most people who participate in sun gazing view it as a spiritual, meditative practice. Those who engage in this practice believe that it can connect you to the spiritual power of the sun, leading to increased spiritual wellness and even psychic powers.[11] There isn’t much research on (or evidence of) the spiritual benefits of sun gazing meditation in particular, but there is evidence of the benefits of meditation in general.
    • Meditation has emotional benefits such as increased self-awareness, living in the moment more, and reducing negative emotions.
    • It can also help you manage conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.[12]
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Section 3 of 5:

Risks of Sun Gazing

  1. Step 1 Sun gazing can cause severe injury to your eyes.
    Though many people believe there are benefits to sun gazing, healthcare professionals agree that it is not safe to look directly at the sun. Staring at the sun can cause damage to your eye’s surface tissues, cornea, and lens, and in severe cases, it can even cause blindness.[13] Excessive exposure to UV rays also raises your risk of eye diseases, cataracts, eye cancer, and photokeratitis (which is like having a sunburn on your eyes).[14]
  2. Step 2 Too much sun exposure can cause risks involving your skin, as well.
    In the short-term, excessive sun exposure can cause a painful sunburn. Over long periods of time, too much exposure to the sun’s rays can increase your risk of skin cancer.[15] It can also cause changes in your skin’s appearance, such as wrinkles and fine lines.[16] Though there are benefits to sun exposure, healthcare professionals agree that the best way to protect yourself is to limit your sun exposure and take protective measures like wearing sunscreen.[17]
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Section 4 of 5:

How to Sun Gaze

  1. Step 1 Go outside around sunrise or sunset.
    Sunlight is strongest around midday to early afternoon, so it’s best to spend time in the sunlight earlier or later in the day to protect your eyes and skin.[18] Pick a place outside to stand or sit and perform your meditation. You can do this at home in a backyard or patio, or you could head to a nearby park. Try to pick a place where there aren’t too many distractions or loud noises, so that you can focus on meditating.[19]
  2. Step 2 Pick a focal point to gaze at that isn’t the sun.
    Although traditional sun gazing involves looking at the sun directly, healthcare professionals advise against this because it can cause severe damage to your eyes.[20] Instead, pick another nearby object to focus on. You could pick a tree, or a beautiful flower that catches your attention. While you’re focusing on the focal point you’ve chosen, take deep, slow, even-paced breaths.Try to calm your mind, and if you feel your attention drifting, slowly return your focus to the focal point.[21]
    • Focusing your attention is a key element of meditation because it helps you break free from distractions or anxieties to be in the present moment.[22]
    • Choosing an object in nature to focus on helps you practice this, while avoiding the dangers of looking directly at the sun.
    • Plus, you’ll be outside soaking in the early morning or evening sunlight, so you’ll experience the evidence-backed benefits of sun exposure.[23]
  3. Step 3 Keep it short.
    Prolonged or excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can increase your risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and eye injury.[24] To prevent this, keep your outdoor meditation session short. Luckily, you only need about 10-15 minutes of daily sunlight to experience benefits such as increased vitamin D.[25]
    • In fact, the skin can only produce a limited amount of vitamin D at a time.
    • Once it’s reached this limit, your vitamin D levels won’t increase any further, even if you stay in the sun.[26]
  4. Step 4 Protect your eyes and your skin.
    While you’re outside, make sure to take precautions to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s UV rays. Try to do your meditation during sunrise or sunset, so that you aren’t outside during the time of day when the rays are strongest. Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on your face and any exposed skin. Consider wearing a hat to further shade your face, and bring a pair of sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes.[27]
    • Remember, pick a focal point that is not the sun itself, and don’t look directly at the sun.[28]
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Section 5 of 5:

Safer Alternatives to Sun Gazing

  1. Step 1 Sit outside during sunrise.
    You can experience many of the benefits of sun gazing simply by being outside, rather than looking directly at the sun. In particular, there are many benefits to being outside during sunrise. You’ll experience the general benefits of sun exposure, such as improved mood and energy, but there are also specific benefits to waking up early enough to watch the sunrise. Research suggests that it reduces depression and even helps you lose weight.[29]
  2. Step 2 Take a meditative walk outside.
    To experience the benefits of sun exposure and meditation while getting a bit of exercise, try out a walking meditation. You can practice this in your neighborhood, at a park, or even while walking to work or the grocery store.[30] The goal is to think very deliberately about actions that are typically automatic. While you walk, focus on each of the individual steps, such as lifting your foot, moving your foot forward, and placing your foot back on the ground. Pay attention to your breath and bodily sensations.[31]
    • If you feel your mind starting to wander, gently try to refocus it on one of your senses.
  3. Step 3 Meditate outdoors.
    Engaging in any type of meditation outdoors will combine the positive effects of sun exposure and meditation. Practicing mindful meditation, in particular, can help you live more in the moment while reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.[32] Spend 10 minutes doing this type of meditation outside while the sun is shining to get some vitamin D at the same time!
    • Sit down in a quiet place and focus on what you’re experiencing.
    • Feel the flow of your breath, and let any thoughts that come up pass without judgment.[33]
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