What is sun gazing and why should I do it?
Sun gazing as a ritual has been around for more than 2,000 years and has been practiced by many civilizations across the globe - from India, to the Aztecs, to the ancient Egyptians.
What is the practice?
Sun gazing is the act of introducing sunlight into your eyes, when the sun's UV index is at its lowest points of the day - sunrise and sunset. UV is close to zero at these times because of the longer distance it travels to reach you. Being far from the earth, in its low position on the horizon, the sun's wavelengths need to travel through more atmosphere, becoming filtered as well as scattered before they reach you. This is why UV is not harmful to you or your eyes first thing in the morning, and early evening.
How to practice sun gazing safely
- Practice it within 30 minutes of sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset.
- Best to be done barefoot - on the ground, beach, grass, dirt - if possible. This grounds you to the earth, amplifying the effects.
- Remove contacts or glasses.
- Don’t sun gaze through windows because most glass filters the wavelengths.
- Start out slow, letting your eyes gradually adjust. Look directly at the sun for 10 seconds, increasing this slowing every day.
- Build up to no more than 30 minutes, with 10-15 minutes being a good goal to reach.
- If the sun is too bright, look slightly away, about 15 degrees, either side, up or down. As you adjust to its brightness you'll eventually be able to directly stare at it.
- On cloudy days, the sun still provides benefits. Stare at the position where the sun is behind the clouds.
- Take advantage of the spiritual benefits of this ritual too, by setting your intentions to the sun, as part of a daily meditation practice.
The benefits from sun gazing
There are physical and psychological benefits to practicing sun gazing every day. For most of us this includes more energy, better sleep (because it resets the circadian rhythm), and lower stress. Some report a huge reduction in appetite and, if you're interested in extreme cases, NASA confirmed in a study, with a team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania, that Hira Ratan Manek was able to survive largely on light over a 100 day period with only small amounts of buttermilk or water. This is why sun gazing is also known as the HMR Phenomenon, named after Manek.
But...for most of us, just practicing sun gazing every day for up to 30 minutes will bring significant benefits like these, so don't feel like you have to be a superhuman...
- Increased energy levels
- Optimized circadian rhythm leading to better and deeper sleep
- Better mood due to boosted production of the hormones serotonin and melatonin
- Improved eye health
- Lowered stress
- Boosted immune system making you able to fight illnesses and recover quickly
- Decreased appetite and possible weight loss
- Increased awareness and clearer thinking
- A positive mindset and increased confidence
How NOT to do sun gazing
Sun gazing is entirely safe, but there are rules you should follow to make it so.
- Practice it only in the safe hours, when UV light is at its lowest. This means not beyond 30 minutes after sunrise or 30 minutes before sunset.
- Never look at the sun via a medium, such as a magnifying glass, telescope, binoculars, SLR camera lens. These implements concentrate the sunlight which can burn your eyes.
If you want to learn more
Matt, our Founder and CEO of Ra Optics, has spent over 8 years researching the healing powers of sunlight. With this knowledge, he was able to resolve his underlying health issues and led him to create The Light Diet - 8 steps to optimizing your health with the power of light. For more information on his incredible journey and discoveries, listen to his podcasts and take action to better your own life, physically and spiritually.
The Light Diet Podcasts
Finding True Fulfillment with Ben Greenfield