Solar Meditations for Depression: The Healing Powers of the Sun
Solar Meditations connect us with the most powerful energy source within our physical awareness...
Life on Earth, is a Solar Meditation. The Sun is the source of all life on our planet.
"Why do we watch the sunrise? Why do we concentrate on it? In order to learn to mobilize all our thoughts, all our desires, and all our energies, and to direct them toward the realization of the highest ideal. A person who works to unify the many chaotic forces that pull him in every direction and to project them in a single, luminous and salutary direction becomes such a powerful centre that his presence, like the sun, is able to radiate through space. Yes, he who manages to control the tendencies of his lower nature can spread these blessings over the whole of humanity, and he becomes a sun. He lives in such freedom that he expands the field of his consciousness to include the entire human race, to which he sends the abundance of light and love that pour forth from him. "
We depend on the Sun for our lives. Not one living organism could exist on the Earth without the Sun. The very existence of light both within our consciousness, and within our world, is represented by the presence of the Sun. And yet, we take this amazing phenomenon for granted.
Cultures around the world celebrate the sun, each in their own way. It has been the object of worship, a cause for celebration, a symbol of strength and wisdom and truth. Greek and Arab scholars, and later Europeans such as Descartes and Newton all tried to understand light to gain a better understanding of God. Much of modern science's origins came from the desire to penetrate the divine nature of light.
Health Benefits of Sunshine
Now modern science has re-established (but not "discovered") the valuable benefits of sunlight both for physical and mental health.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a of depressive illness brought on by lack of light, typically in the dark winter months. There is not only a psychological effect of the absence of sunlight, but a physiological effect as well. Even for those whose depression is not necessarily related to SAD, sunlight can be very healing and an important factor in recovery.
Caution should always be practiced when exposed to the sun, especially in mid-afternoon and during the warmer seasons. Certain medications can cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, and also the anti-depressant herb St. John's Wort (if you have fair skin), so it is important to be aware of this beforehand.
You should get at least one hour of daily, direct exposure to the sun every day to alleviate depression. To avoid overexposure it is better to do this in the earlier hours of the day.
Although we are constantly warned of the dangers of looking directly at the sun, many practitioners of various sun-gazing practices seem prove otherwise. Common sense will tell you that staring at the sun for long periods of time, or during mid-day hours can be damaging. However, according to proponents of "sun gazing" there are safe, and deeply therapeutic methods for gazing directly at the sun. These practices exist across many different traditional cultures. Safest times are during the first, and the last hour of daylight (sunrise, and sunset), when the greatest amount of UV light is filtered out.
I am not suggesting that anyone practice open-eyed sun gazing. But please do your own research and take responsibility for your own well-being.
For a fascinating new article by Dr Joseph Mercola on Solar meditations or Solar Yoga and the many health miracles achieved by taking in sunlight through the eyes - check out the link below. He refers to a traditional master who has undergone many tests and observations by western scientists and doctors. He has apparently demonstrated that he can go without food and sustain himself on sunlight alone. One such study apparently verified that he fasted for 411 days - observed by an international team of scientists.
The sun is also our main source of vitamin D which is vital for optimum health. According to an article in ScienceDaily (May 26, 2005) — Scientists at The University of Manchester have unveiled new research which claims that going out in the midday sun, without sunscreen, is good for you. Ultra-violet radiation expert Ann Webb recommends short periods (5-10 minutes) of direct sun at high noon.
"Our calculations have found that the best time to be out in the sun if you want to maximize Vitamin D production and its benefits is midday. This is when the sun is highest in the sky and this is when there is more UVB radiation in the spectrum which triggers Vitamin D production in the skin," says Dr Webb.
Vitamin D - available in it's most potent form from sunlight on the skin - is being studied for it's likely benefits in protecting against osteoporosis, cancer, infections, diabetes, aches and pains, multiple sclerosis, and even schizophrenia. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that the human body makes on it's own (when exposed to ultra-violet B light from the sun.
The FDA recommends only 200 IU of vitamin D daily for those under 51 and 400 IU for those 51 to 70. However, many experts now recommend at least 1,000 IU daily for all ages and perhaps as high as 8,000 IU or even more in some cases. (200 IU's is about the amount of Vitamin D found in a glass of milk).
The strongest case for the health benefits of high dose Vitamin D3 can be found a the website of the Vitamin D Council
Note: The best type of Vitamin D is "D3" derived from sunlight, and from animals - especially fish. Vitamin "D2" is plant- based, commonly found in cheaper vitamin supplements, and is inferior in its benefits to your health.
Here is a simple solar meditation practice:
Close your eyes and breath slowly and mindfully.
Look towards the sun, with eyes closed, as you breath, and feel the sunlight permeate your being.
Imagine your body dissolving in light.
Relax and breathe for at least 5-10 minutes, until your mind and body are calm.
Solar Meditation/Visualization for counteracting negativity: If you are feeling plagued by negative thoughts or feel invaded or intruded upon by someone's negativity, try this:
Then, breathing slowly and mindfully, feel the warmth and light of the sun on your body.
Visualize the image of the blazing sun in the area of your heart, imagining the sun's rays permeating your inner world, shining outward through every pore of your body, and out into the outer world. Allow yourself to really visualize this inner light shining into all corners of the world, illuminating every dark corner, and overcoming all negativity with golden light and love.
After holding this image for a few minutes, and breathing from the belly, end with an exhalation and feel yourself connected to the earth, and rooted in your body. You will feel lighter, calmer and more empowered to deal with stressful people and situations after this.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation):
One of the most popularly practiced yogic practices, traditionally practiced, or course, while facing the sun. The first few minutes of this beautifully video, shot on location in India, shows the 12 sequential postures of the Sun Salutation. The rest of the video is worth watching, but shows other postures (quite advanced ones) that are not part of Sun Salutation.
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