Sun gazing can have some exceptional health benefits. It will not only enhance your physical health but it has potential to improve your psychological and spiritual development.
The theory behind sun gazing is that the sun produces the energy for life, so staring at it and absorbing its energy infuses the body with vitality.
Our early human ancestors, including the Aztecs and the ancient Egyptians, all practiced sun gazing. They revered it as a helpful and mystical practice that inspired their priests and shamans. Sun gazing is currently experiencing a modern resurgence as its practitioners discover its health benefits.
Post Update (2/19/16): Since we posted this article, we have received a response from a New York City-based Physics professor who provided us an illuminating and scientific review of the benefits of sun gazing- click here to scroll down and read his analysis.
Sun gazing means to stare at the sun for short periods of time during safe hours of the day, which are during the first hour of sunrise or the last hour before the sun sets.
It is very important to note that if you practice sun gazing outside of these proper times your eyes can be damaged by the UV rays of the sun.
A scientist named Vinny Pinto conducted a survey that included 56 participants called “The First Sungazing List Group Sungazer’s Survey“.
Some of the findings he disseminated included that:
Light is an intrinsic and independent phenomenon in our universe. Intrinsic means it can, and does, exist anywhere and where, from the vast, empty vacuum of space to the surface of our Earth with its gaseous atmosphere, to virtually every form of matter and material that we encounter on Earth, whether solid liquid or gas, whether microscopic or enormous.
Independent means that light is self perpetuating- after it has been produced, it has a natural tendency to propagate through space which is completely independent of the source that it was produced by.
The basis of sun gazing contradicts this principle. One can only sungaze when the sun is lower on the horizon and thus dimmer. It is dimmer because the light is attenuated by scattering in the atmosphere and therefore you are not looking at “pure” sunlight.
It is in principle the same effect as if you would look at the sun through dark glasses to attenuate the light. There is nothing physically different or special about waiting for the sun to be attenuated through a natural process.
Actually, the light at sunrise or sunset is in a sense even more artificial than midday sun viewed through a dark lens, because atmospheric attenuation changes the composition of sunlight instead of dimming it uniformly.
The reason for the red sun at sunrise or sunset is because the atmosphere has scattered away the blue colors of the light, leaving only red. Thus the reddish sunlight is not “true” sunlight because it has a drastically different spectrum of colors than the light produced by the sun and that which reaches Earth at midday.
Additionally, sunlight is not only dangerous to eyes because of invisible UV radiation, but because of its sheer intensity. The sunlight absorbing cells in our eyes are very sensitive and can be permanently damaged by high intensity light.
Our pupils shrink in order to limit the amount of light they absorb, which means that if you are capable of sun gazing it is because your eyes have self adjusted to attenuate the incoming light, a process which, while “natural” is once again is not intrinsically different than an artificial means of attenuating light.
The claim that light is the energy of life suffers from similar problems. The ability for plants to generate energy from sunlight is due to their chlorophyll which strongly absorb blue and red light while reflecting green light, which is the reason for the green color of plants. The light at sunrise or sunset has already been filtered of blue components, so it is precisely lacking in one of main components of the “energy of life”.
The idea that humans can somehow absorb this life energy is wrong not simply because we aren’t plants, but because it ignores the special place for humans in the grand scheme of nature. The flow of energy from the sun to plants to animals to humans is an elegant and symbiotic cycle in which life on Earths functions like an enormous rechargeable battery.
Plants take in CO2 and water, and use the energy from sunlight to convert these simple compounds to O2 and more complex organic compounds that serve as food for animals and humans as well as fuels for energy. When humans or animals eat, or fuel is burned, the process goes in reverse.
Humans eat (or fill engines with) the organic matter produced by plants and breath (or inject into an engine) the O2 emitted by plants. We (and engines) then expel CO2 and water, reproducing the original matter that had been transformed by plants.
The reverse process, instead of requiring energy, releases it to power the biological processes that humans need to function and work.
This energy is not necessarily in the form of light, but the quantity of energy is the same as that in the original light that plants took in (however, inefficiencies in the process mean only a fraction of this energy gets put to practical use).
It is really a beautiful process, but we are on the discharging side of the battery. As long as we are breathing in air and exhaling CO2, we are generating energy from food, not sunlight.
As for psychological and spiritual effects, the sun does have important role in maintaining hormonal balance and circadian rhythms, which affect our mood and state of mind.
But once again, not only will sun gazing not enhance these effects, the actual facts are much more interesting. Blue light from the day sky inhibits the production of melatonin, which helps maintain a proper sleep cycle by promoting wakefulness in daylight and sleepfulness at night.
Interestingly, this evolutionary adaptation is still with us despite the fact that artificial light in the form of fire was discovered at least hundreds of thousands of years ago, before anatomically modern humans even existed. As it turns out, fire contains mostly red-yellow light as opposed to blue, and therefore does not disturb circadian rhythms.
Thus the red light of sun gazing will have no effect on circadian rhythms either.
Melatonin is a precursor to serotonin, which is widely known for its role in happiness and depression. A hormonal imbalance of melatonin is thus hypothesized to play a role in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Moreover, the independence of light from its source suggests that even artificial light can be used to correct SAD, and there is evidence of this.
Sitting under an artificial light that produces a similar spectrum to the sun during the day has been shown effective in treating SAD, as well as wearing blue-filtering goggles in the hours before sleep.