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Everything You Need to Know About Sun Gazing Meditation

There’s a new health and wellness trend that’s getting a lot of buzz: sun gazing meditation. But what is it exactly? The practice is all about tapping into solar power by peering at the sun for grounding and healing purposes. 

Since the sun is a vital element for most life on Earth — it powers the photosynthesis required for plants grow, provides us with essential vitamin D, and offers a sunny day to bask in when you’re feeling down — the thinking behind sun gazing meditation is that focusing on this ball of energy will energize our lives. Typically, this is done at times throughout the day when the rays of light are softer (think: peeking through your curtains at sunrise) in order to prevent eye damage.

At first blush, sun gazing meditation sounds like another way to connect with nature in a nurturing way, similar even to the practice of grounding. But does it offer all the benefits it claims? What about the danger of looking directly into the sun — something we’ve been told not to do since grade school? We’re breaking down all the details. Here’s everything you need to know about sun gazing meditation.

The Research 

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It’s no secret that humans have been fascinated by the sun for millennia. Proponents of sun gazing point to its origins in ancient cultures that revered the sun and its power. Most famously, the Incas in Peru worshiped their sun god, Inti. Meanwhile, the Japanese imperial family is believed to have descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu, in Shintoism. And the Mayans’ sun god, Kinich Ahau, was thought to be a god of healing and medicine. 

While countless other cultures and religions also recognize the important role of the sun, the practice of sun gazing meditation itself is most often attributed to the Vedic religion (also known as ancient Hinduism). In this religion, sun gazing is practiced as a daily routine to boost serotonin and melatonin. Notably, those in the Vedic religion only advise sun gazing during the first hour of sunrise when the UV index is low in order to protect the eye’s retinas. It’s recommended that beginners start with just 10 seconds a day. In a short and small survey, one researcher found that 35 out of 51 participants reported “increased or greatly increased energy” after sun gazing.

However, since there has yet to be any large-scale or scientifically verified studies on the health benefits of sun gazing, the jury is still out on whether the potential risks outweigh the benefits, even when practiced in small doses.

Swap Out The Sun(gazing) 

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Rather than practicing sun gazing meditation, there are other ways to swap out the sun and harness the benefits of meditation. For starters, try the cosmic alternative of moon gazing meditation. Since the muted glow of the moon is a more soothing night light to the soul, the practice helps you unwind and slow down after a busy day. Monitor the lunar calendar if you’re particularly over the moon about this option. While you’re at it, take your Crystal Cove yoga cushion and yoga mat outside and enjoy a soothing yoga or meditation session under the moonlight.

Meditation itself can initiate change and reduce stress while increasing calm, supporting quality sleep, and focusing your attention. This is all proven, too. A 2014 study shows that by turning our attention to the breath, meditation helps focus the mind, improve emotional processing, and lessen feelings of anxiety and depression. Even better, meditation is a practice you can develop over time, and even as little as 10 minutes a day is beneficial. 

Of course, simply spending time in the sun also does wonders for your mental health. Sunlight resets your circadian clock — the internal mechanism that regulates your 24-hour sleep-wake cycles — makes you feel happier, and allows you to absorb beta-endorphins that promote relaxation and improve well-being. Turns out, you don’t need to stare into the sun to reap the benefits of sun gazing.