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Sun Gazing: An Ancestral Healing Practice

My mom caught me early. I promised not to do it again. After all, she warned, staring at the sun will blind you. So I believed for the next two decades.

Until I came across Ayurveda. Not only did ancient humans stare at the sun, but they did it to improve their eyesight and health. This practice—called sun gazing—passed through generations, withstanding thousands of years of trials.

Similar to charging a battery, sun gazing charges your mitochondria increasing your energy and healing the body. Click To Tweet

I now practice sun gazing regularly, and my vision hasn’t deteriorated. On the contrary. If anything it’s improved.

But you must do it right.

Today I’ll cover the basics of sun gazing, why you should try it, and how to practice safely.

What is Sun Gazing

Nick Sun Gazing NYC Early Morning Sun Rise
My first session of sun gazing in NYC.

Sun gazing is a fancy name for the practice of watching the sun rise and set. Done properly it realigns the circadian rhythm, produces feel-good chemicals, improves sleep, activates the pineal gland, and can even regenerate vision.

To address the elephant in the room: isn’t staring at the sun dangerous?

Yes and no. Throughout most of the day you absolutely, positively should not stare at the sun. As I wrote about in choosing healthy lighting for your home, bedroom, and office, the sun’s rays change throughout the day. For the first and last 30 minutes of the day, there is zero ultra violet light emitted. Eye damage comes from over exposure to UV, so sun in the narrow pre-day and pre-night bands is safe.

The practice is one of those “miracle cures” hiding in plain sight. It’s less known because it challenges the status quo of natural light being dangerous. Sun gazing realigns humans (circadian rhythm) with the earth’s natural rhythms. The way we lived pre-electricity. Sleeping with the onset of darkness, and rising with the sun.

Sun gazing is all about connection: to the cosmos, planet, and humanity. Click To Tweet

In my research, some benefits repeatedly come up.

Benefits of Sun Gazing

Sun gazing sets the tone for an effective day

There are two categories of sun gazing benefits:

  1. General sunlight exposure
  2. Specific to sun gazing

Dusk and dawn resemble watercolor-like glows. They soothe the nervous system and ease the transition into the day or sleep. Light during these hours is high in the healing infrared spectrum, and lower in the harsh ultraviolet. The infrared spectrum balances the destructive artificial blue spectrum omnipresent in daily life and spewed out by technology (see my IrisTech review for software that makes technology less damaging).

Benefits of sun gazing include:

  1. Better sleep. Serotonin from morning light increases nighttime melatonin and sleep quality.
  2. Deeper connection. Activates the pineal gland which is associated with bliss, feeling connected, and transmuting melatonin into powerful spiritual metabolites.
  3. Normalized hormones. Light (and vitamin D) bring hormones into balance.
  4. Heals skin. Infrared light reduces inflammation and increases natural collagen production.
  5. Natural antioxidant. Sun gazers have naturally higher levels of melatonin, one of the most potent antioxidants.
  6. Increased alertness and cognition. Morning light stimulates the hypothalamus and improves brain function.
  7. Reduced inflammation. Standing barefoot on the earth (as recommended while sun gazing) allows electrons to flow freely, using your body as a “ground”.
  8. Improved mood. The feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin spikes in response to sunlight, potentially inducing happiness, joy, and a general feeling of peace.
  9. Reduced appetite. Regular sun gazers report eating less. This effect takes 6+ months of daily practice.

How to Sun Gaze Safely & Effectively

Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult your doctor before trying sun gazing.

The Three Rules of Sun Gazing

  1. Timing is crucial. Only sun gaze within the first 30 minutes of the sunrise, and within the last 30 minutes of sunset. Staring at the sun outside this window is dangerous and not recommended.
  2. Stand barefoot while sun gazing. Solar rays are full of energy and information. Standing with your feet on the earth, or submerged in natural bodies of water is like a surge protector for the body. It helps dissipate energy when it builds too high.
  3. Transition slowly. Start by looking at the sun for ten seconds and work your way up by another ten each day. Continue slowly building up to 30 minutes.

Prefer visuals?

Step 1: Start Small

I made the mistake of starting too big. I felt “off” because I stared at the sun far longer than recommended.

How to start sun gazing (step by step):

  1. Find a good spot

    The least obstruction of the sunrise or sunset the better. Parks are one great option.

  2. Go at the right time

    Practice when the UV index ≤1

  3. Remove glasses or contacts

    Eyewear obstructs the light and change its natural properties.

  4. Remove shoes and socks

    Make contact with earth to take advantage of grounding the electron flow.

  5. Carefully look towards sun

    For your first time, either look to the side of the sun or with eyes closed for only 10 seconds.

  6. Relax

    Take a moment afterward to reflect before going about your day.

Step 2: Build Exposure

After a few sessions, you’ll get tempted to skip straight to staring longer. Resist the temptation as the body needs all the time to properly adapt.

Most of us spend our days indoors and wear sunglasses at the first sign of bright light.

Start with ten seconds, and add ten more every session.

If you skipped grounding initially, find a patch of bare earth and expose your feet.

Better to progress too slowly than risk permanent eye damage.

Step 3: Have Patience

Sun gazing isn’t a quick miracle fix.

Some effects are immediately apparent: I felt heightened clarity, peace, and calm energy. I left my second feeling focused and compassion for others.

Benefits like repairing vision, and reducing appetite take months.

The profound benefits take daily practice of:

  • Mental benefits: 3 months
  • Physical benefits: 6 months
  • Spiritual benefits: 9 months

Sun Gazing: A Lifelong Practice For Optimal Health

Awaking before the sun itself is empowering. And in line with 4,000+ year old Ayurvedic principles. After every session, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction and restful alertness watching the golden orb lift above the horizon.

I take a brief moment out of the chaos of modern life to appreciate something small. At the same time, I bask in the healing infrared light spectrum and get stimulating energy unlike that of an espresso. My skin blemishes are disappearing, I sleep better, and begin my day elated.

I encourage you to research sun gazing become giving it a try. When you do, start slow and safe. Let me know how it goes.

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