By Isabella Young
It’s another glorious day here on Kaua‘i. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky, and the ocean is all shades of blue. The air is warm and sweet, and the palm trees are gently doing hula. It’s the kind of day that beckons us to go outside and feel the warmth of the sun’s rays and its life-giving energy upon our skin. It’s the kind of day that makes us feel good to be alive!
The sun is a source of life, light, and information. In ancient wisdom traditions, the sun is central to life, and given utmost reverence.
“There is a current of love-energy that flows between Earth below and the Sun above.” — The Radiance Sutras
Just like plants and other animals, we all need direct sunlight to flourish. Exposure to sunlight improves blood quality and bone health. Sunlight improves sleep, mood and cognitive functioning. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are reduced. Fearing and avoiding the sun is unnecessary and counterintuitive, and creates serious health problems.
For optimal health, we need sunlight on our skin and in our eyes. Skin needs sunlight to make vitamin D, which is essential for many bodily functions, including the production of all hormones. Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) strengthens our immune system and our bones, and can prevent cancers, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is essential for optimal brain function, cardiovascular health and weight management.
Because most people work indoors and spend more time indoors interacting with electronic devices, most people are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is now an epidemic in the U.S. The remedy is simple and free. We need direct sunlight on our skin. Daily. Not through glass. Without sunscreen. The amount of time we need to expose our skin to sunlight each day to make adequate vitamin D depends on our skin pigmentation, where we live, the time of day, and the time of year. At least 15 minutes of sunshine on bare skin every day is beneficial for everyone. Avoid overexposure and sunburn.
It takes 48 hours after sun exposure to make Vitamin D. If we always cover ourselves with clothing or apply sunscreen, and immediately wash with soap after exposure to the sun, this process cannot take place. To ensure Vitamin D is made, it is best to wash our armpits and groin with soap, and use water to clean other areas after sun exposure.
Dietary sources and oral supplementation may be helpful when exposure to sunlight is inadequate or not possible.
Our brain uses sunlight to make serotonin and dopamine, which boost our mood and energy levels. Exposure to sunlight can help us to overcome depression and lethargy.
We need the full spectrum of light from the sun into our eyes for optimal brain health and overall well-being. We need morning sunlight to stimulate organs in our brain, which optimize brain function and regulate our circadian rhythm.
Hormonal balance, digestion, body temperature, stages of sleep and states of awareness are all affected by this 24-hour cycle. Lack of adequate sunlight, stress, electromagnetic pollution, international travel, and blue light from computer screens disrupts our circadian rhythm. Our bodies have natural rhythm, and when we are arrhythmic, there is increased risk of disease.
“The biological clock of the body needs to be continually calibrated by the pulse of the Earth that governs the circadian rhythm of all life on the planet.” — Clinton Ober
We need morning sunlight to stimulate the pineal gland to produce melatonin, which maintains the body’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin aids sleep, weight management, and re-mineralization of teeth and bone, Melatonin is an antioxidant and ant-inflammatory. Melatonin delays and prevents age-related conditions.
At dawn and sunset, when the sun is low in the sky, it is safe to receive the life-force energy from the sun directly through our eyes. This powerful practice, known as Sungazing, can improve our health and vitality. Always start with just a few seconds and increase gradually.
“At dawn, gaze into the Sun as it rises above horizon. Take several deep and slow breaths, expanding your ribs in all directions and filling your belly. Receive. Release. Relax. Set an intention. Give thanks. Drink a glass of water. Go about your day.” — How to Do Sungazing Step by Step. Why It’s So Powerful, by Spiritual Awakening. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCDarGYDo90
There are artificial lights that can provide beneficial light when sunlight is not available or accessible.
We are fortunate to experience many sunny days here on island. We can simply go outside to access sunlight and its health-giving benefits and healing power. Let’s go outdoors more often to enjoy the sunshine and bring our keiki, kupuna, pregnant mammas, anyone unable to get outdoors unassisted, and our pets. We will all be revitalized!
- Isabella Youngis a Kaua‘i-based writer and author of “Feeling Better Naturally,” a compendium of ancient and natural medicines supporting optimal health and well being. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.