The Spiritual Benefits of Sunbathing

It makes sense that the light of the Sun, our nearest star, gives us the most generous cosmic benefits this life can offer. This awesome nuclear-power station nearly 100 million miles from our Earth has granted us our whole solar system, and all plant and animal life. Pretty good for a medium-sized, middle-aged ball of yellow fire.

Yes, our star rules life itself. How can it not rule our spirit?

We can feel the Sun but cannot touch it, although it can touch us. Our Sun is the source of energy, physical and spiritual. We all know people whose dream it is to live on a sunny beach, forever. It’s so relaxing, they say. A “sunny” personality is a happy one. Who doesn’t love a sunny day after a week of rainy ones? The Sun genuinely does relax us and make us happy. We are built to live with the Sun and revel in its gifts.

No Nude Sunbathing Sign

The Demonic Sun

Yet lately the Sun has acquired a bad reputation it never had before, and has become an evil star. We are advised for health reasons to avoid most sunlight, warned not to go out between 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. when the sun is brightest and UVA and UVB rays might burn our skins. The Sun, we are told, if we are not careful will do two of the scariest things that our First World culture can think of: age our faces, and plant deadly cancers on or beneath our skins! Let’s add sunglasses for good measure — and UV-rated clothing and hats.

So we slather on ourselves and our children SP-50 sunscreen so we won’t be “exposed” on our short trips between the house and car, because the “damage” is “cumulative.” The Sun’s rays give us a new reason to stay indoors and sedentary. When seeing sunbathers, we mutter about cancer. When someone is diagnosed with melanoma, we figure she tanned too much for the sake of vanity. We sure do judge.

On the other hand: Lack of sun makes people sick. A lack of sunshine causes rickets. A modern disease, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is caused by winter’s short rations of sunlight. To cure it we stay indoors and use “light boxes” or “happy lamps” that emit light emulating the Sun’s.


Let There Be Light

Every culture, and every divination method, defines the Sun as positive, as possessing the greatest powers and representing the highest possible good. That includes astrology, Tarot, and palmistry, in which the Sun Line, also called the Fame Line or Line of Apollo, indicates worldly success. The Sun is invariably considered a “masculine” symbol and ruled by a god, while the Moon is feminine and goddess-ruled.

The Sun and religious practices are solidly linked. Sun worship is probably the oldest religion and Sun deities the oldest deities. The faith of the ancients was rewarded; we, their descendants, are here and live in a great civilization. So Sun worship must have benefits. Today’s advocates of the “Paleo” lifestyle recommend lots of outdoor activity, saying human bodies were designed to soak up sunlight.

If that sounds repellent to you, know that our culture has learned just in the last 30 years to fear and devalue sunlight. Dermatologists have declared sunlight a carcinogen. Yes, too much of it, to the point of burning, causes cancer; so can too much of anything. Ours is also a culture of increasing depression and anxiety. At their roots is a sense of powerlessness, increasing even as we proclaim more and more often our faith in God.


Why do we now shun, as if it’s sinister, our world’s most basic source of power and light, God’s first creation according to the Bible? Now so many people are measurably deficient in “the sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D, that doctors have backpedaled and agree that we allow ourselves more sunlight, in moderation. Half an hour three times a week will do it, or 15 minutes a day.

You do not have to wear a bathing suit or have a lounge chair, but you must be outdoors. It won’t work through a window. Sit at a café table, take a walk or a bicycle ride, sweep the sidewalk to collect your benefits. And for this practice, eschew the tedious ritual of applying sunscreen.

No, Not Sun-Gazing!

A current fad for staring into the Sun, directly at it, for 45 minutes, is called “Sun-gazing,” and it is said to be a traditional yogic discipline that gives you superpowers such as the ability to fly, and enlarges your “third eye.” This is obviously untrue. Do not try “Sun-gazing.” There is a reason why the Sun is difficult and painful to look at directly. Its brightness and radiation can scar your retinas and cloud your corneas — that is, make you blind.

Sun-bathing, meaning deliberate and controlled exposure of the skin to sunlight, with the goal of finer health and a stronger spirit, is what we mean.


 Spiritual Benefits

In astrology, the Sun counts as a planet, and your Sun sign is the most fundamental thing about your birth chart — which also includes the Moon and eight other planets. But the Sun, naturally, is number one, and it represents your true self, your presence, your ego, your intelligence, strengths, direction in life, and self-esteem.

If feeling a lack of any of these things, try taking in the Sun, starting with five minutes and building up to 10 and then 15 to 30 minutes, until your skin feels warm. Rebuilding one’s trust in the Sun takes time.

It is normal at first to fear exposing your skin to the Sun for the sake of your body, mind, and spirit. Lying in the Sun you might feel impatient or sweaty. If you have spent years indoors, in your first few sunbaths your feelings will be very mixed. Weeks will be required refill your body with a healthy level of all-natural Vitamin D. But sooner than that, your spirit will brighten and toughen. You won’t cry so much, or be triggered so often. Physical strength — ruled by the Sun — will follow better bone health and fewer aches and pains. Know too that you are lowering your blood pressure and your risk of dementia.

Morning sunlight helps those with sleep problems. Morning sunlight banishes from the body the melatonin that makes you sleepy and helps reset your interior clock. Our body clocks are based on the Sun’s cycles. Light and darkness trigger the hormones that make us sharp and awake or drowsy and sleepy. We are designed that way.

Vitamin D supplements and sunlight eventually produce the same desired effect of, first, bone protection, and then other benefits, such as improved balance and cancer protection. For those with light skin, 30 minutes in the glorious Sun equals 10,000 IU of Vitamin D; darker-skinned people need about twice that time to reap the benefit. And it is free.

Other benefits of sunlight:

  • Reduce depression
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Reset the internal clock
  • Boost immunity
  • Potential for weight loss through mood control

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