What Is Sun Gazing Meditation and Does It Have Health Benefits? (2022)

Sun gazing is a meditative practice that involves looking at the sun during off-peak times. However, medical experts don’t recommend this type of practice due to the risk of permanent eye damage.

Sun gazing is a method of meditation that attempts to harness the healing power of the sun. Participants look directly at the sun, most commonly during sunrise and sunset, in an effort to connect with its energy.

However, there’s no research that supports any health benefits of sun gazing, and any form of it can result in permanent eye damage.

We’ll examine the risks and benefits of safe sun exposure and meditation in general as well as the risks of practicing sun gazing.

Warning: The consensus in the medical community is that looking directly at the sun can be damaging to the eyes, potentially causing irreversible retinal damage and vision loss. This is not a recommended practice.

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What is sun gazing?

Color therapy expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain explains that sun gazing is similar to other meditative practices like moon gazing meditation.

This type of meditation uses a focusing object to enhance the benefits, which can be gained without looking directly at the sun and its harmful UV rays.

While gazing at the sun can be very harmful, gazing at other objects without UV radiation can potentially be beneficial.

An older 2014 study connected focusing on an object during meditation to an enhanced focus of the mind. Though this could include focusing on any kind of object instead of the sun.

However, the benefits of meditation, such as stress reduction, self-awareness, and improving sleep, can be seen in many different practices.

Safety precautions and risks

Most traditional healthcare professionals and ophthalmologists don’t recommend sun gazing.

Studies have shown that ocular diseases like cataracts, certain eye cancers, and photokeratitis are associated with exposure to radiation from the sun. It can also cause immediate damage to the retina.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) advises to never look directly at the sun and to always wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV or UV400 protection when outdoors.

Ultimately, the benefits of meditation that focuses on an object could be harnessed without directly looking at the sun. Consider outdoor meditation that focuses on an object in nature or try a focusing sound or visual cue.

There are lots of meditation apps that can help.

There are many benefits to safe meditation in general. Here are just a few:

Stress, depression, and anxiety reduction

Reviews of studies on meditation suggest it can help improve measures of anxiety, depression, and pain.

Including meditation practice alongside traditional treatments has potential as a low cost method of complementary support for those living with anxiety.

Emotional health benefits

Numerous studies have shown that meditation can improve emotional processing.

A 2019 study of brief mindfulness meditation showed improvements in certain elements of emotion processing such as intensity, emotional memory, and emotional attention bias.

Sleep improvements

A 2019 review of studies suggested that those with sleep disturbance may benefit from mindfulness meditation, though more research is still needed to confirm the benefits.

Ultimately, meditation could prove to have benefits for all kinds of conditions and situations and is considered safe for most healthy people. But gazing at the sun does not have to be a part of it to see these benefits.

Benefits of safe sun exposure

There’s no scientific research to suggest that sun gazing meditation offers any benefits. However, limited and safe sun exposure without looking into the sun can be beneficial.

Evidence suggests that general sunlight exposure can:

  • combat fatigue and drowsiness
  • improve sleep quality
  • increase vitamin D and bone health
  • improve or maintain mental health

Additionally, a 2018 study found that just being outside has numerous health benefits, including perceived benefits for mental health. This means that a meditative practice outdoors could be beneficial even without gazing at the sun.

Improve sleep and circadian rhythms

Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining many functions of the body, including circadian rhythm and sleep duration. More research is needed to fully understand the relationship, but low vitamin D levels can be a cause for concern.

A study from 2014 also found that exposure to sunlight could be an effective countermeasure for fatigue and drowsiness.

Benefits for mental health

The mental health benefits of sun exposure include:

  • increased dopamine and serotonin
  • an improved mood
  • a reduction in depressive symptoms

An older 2011 study of 68 adults found that those who received the most sun exposure in the 30 days prior had the highest density of dopamine receptors in the reward regions of their brains.

A 2019 review connected sun exposure with a decrease in seasonal affective disorder, or depression provoked by seasonal change.

A 2021 study also found that people who enjoyed daily sunlight over a 30-day period experienced a decrease in depressive episodes.

It’s important to note that these studies all refer to sun exposure, not the practice of sun gazing itself.

Medical experts don’t advise this practice at all, but you can incorporate a meditation practice that includes nature and focusing on a safer object.

How to meditate in nature

Prepare by taking some deep breaths. Take the time to stretch and loosen up your body. Then follow these steps:

Meditation steps in a natural setting

  1. Try using a visual focal point that is not the sun. Consider looking at a tree, flowers, or general scenery (like your local vistas or skyline).
  2. Focus on your breathing and relax your body.
  3. Let your meditation come to a natural end and finish with a few body stretches.

You can also add movement to your meditation.

“If standing stationery feels too intense, then introduce movements like stretches,” says Begum-Hossain. “It’s best to end with some stretches when your meditation comes to a natural end.”

Takeaway

There isn’t much research into sun gazing meditation and how it could benefit your body and mind since the dangers are ever-present.

Most of the benefits can be gleaned from general non-sun gazing meditation, being outdoors, and enjoying nature. Many people believe connecting with natural forces can be incredibly healing, both physically and mentally.

Most medical professionals don’t recommend sun gazing at all and suggest trying other meditation practices instead due to immediate and long-term permanent risks to your eyes.

Frequently asked questions

Is sun gazing good for your eyes?

No. The UV light from the sun is harmful to the eyes. Ocular diseases, including cataracts, some types of eye cancer, and immediate retinal damage, are related to exposure to the sun’s radiation.

Most medical professionals don’t recommend looking into the sun for any reason and to wear protective sunglasses whenever you’re spending time outside.

What are the benefits of looking at the sun?

Though there are benefits to being outside and getting safe sun exposure using a strong SPF sunscreen, there are no proven benefits to eye gazing.

Looking directly into the sun, even during non-peak hours like sunrise and sunset, can be permanently damaging to the eyes. It’s better to focus your gaze on other objects that aren’t as harmful to the eyes.

What is the purpose of sun gazing?

Some people believe that staring into the sun has potential health benefits, but this hasn’t proven to be a safe practice. There are no studies that have proven any health benefits to sun gazing.


Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.

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