The Sun is the giver of life.
Here at Botanical Trader, we know this fact of life very well. Our wildflowers bloom because of the Sun’s warmth. Our potent herbs dry under its light. Its shadows cast along the Snowy Foothills as it melts what’s left of winter.
The hours we take to steep our oils and set our salves are marked by the our daily rotation ‘round the Sun. The clock that was once an Ancient Egyptian sundial in honor of the almighty Sun God Ra.
Our 365-day journey through the seasons lets us know when to harvest our black cypress bark in the crispness of winter and our wild rosemary in the light of spring. A calendar that mimics the intricate wonder of the Aztec sunstone in worship of Totec.
Whether Ra, Totec, Helios, or Surya – our Solar center has the power to create, sustain, and destroy the universe.
As we draw closer to it below the equator, or further from it up above, we’ve been feeling inspired to make it the center of our sacred self-care practices.
According to Chinese wisdom, the Sun is a key source of Yang energy (Qi). Yang is potent, active, and warming. It’s the energy that fires our immune systems, our digestion, and our passions. Yang is the will to get up the in the morning and make life happen.
Those definicient in this energy may show signs of fatigue, lack of motivation, poor digestion, and coldness – whether that means in attitude, an aversion to cold temperatures, or proneness to cold flus.
While nutrition and herbs can work wonders to treat Yang deficiency, good ole-fashioned sunlight is a healer. In fact, Ayurvedic practitioners consider sunlight to be the most powerful (and free!) healing remedy for any condition related to Pitta (aka Yang) deficiency.
But deficient or not, it’s just all-around-good for your health. It doesn’t take a wise healer or modern scientist to know that Sun feels amazing. You can walk outside, turn your face to the Sun, and discover that for yourself!
But did you know, that the Sun:
- Improves Sleep: As the Sun regulates the circadian rhythm, the more daylight you get, the more melatonin your body produces when it’s time to sleep
- Elevates Mood: On a chemical level, Sun exposure releases serotonin to the brain. On an energetic level, that Yang energy ignites our passion and motivation to “see the light” in life.
- Maintains Strong Bones: Vitamin D from a pill supplement just doesn’t cut it when compared to our skin’s natural absorption of sunlight. Once filtered, Vitamin D promotes our bone’s calcium absorption. Brittle bones are a sign of coldness in our body’s energy (Vatta), so Mr. Golden Sun is just what the doctor ordered.
- Strengthens Immune System: Vitamin D is also a friend to the immune system, which relies on the energy of fire to fend off infections, illnesses, and even cancer and autoimmune responses. TCM knows that we become susceptible to colds, flus, and viruses when cold wind enters the body. But a dose of Sun is a fierce protector.
- Lengthens Life: Balanced dreams, happy mind, happy body – these all amount to longevity of life! As the giver of Life, the Sun has the power to give us more. Long known by the ancients, this phenomena was studied by the Melanoma in Southern Sweden group. Over a period of 20 years, they found that women who received daily, conscious sun exposure lived 6 months to 2 years longer.
Conscious, Daily Sun Exposure
So what about what we’ve been told about the dangers of cancer? We know this all too well here in Australia, where we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer.
This is not a myth. And unconscious sun exposure plays a key role.
So how can we maximize these benefits to feel the pure joy of the Sun? Why, with conscious practice, of course!
Conscious Sun Connection is a mind-body-spirit practice. So, with soundness of mind, let’s protect our bodies!
In terms of sunscreen, we recommend sunscreens that use organic, non-toxic chemical ingredients, as our pores absorb whatever we put onto our skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a product with an SPF of 30 or higher. I personally use SPF 30 to optimize the Sun’s benefits. But this depends on your complexion.
Long before SPFs were tested in labs, traditional skincare wisdom recommended oils. Ayurveda prescribes warming or cooling oils depending on skin type. These work quite nicely as they create a natural barrier:
- Thin, dry, or mature skin ~ sesame, avocado, almond oils
- Sensitive, acne-prone, red undertones ~ coconut and sunflower oils
- Thick, cool, oily ~ sunflower or safflower oils
Once you have your sunscreen/oil, we’ll want to moisturise for maximum absorption. We can treat this with the same level of care that we would our normal skin routine.
- Apply toner (i.e. rosewater, witch hazel, or your favorite natural toner)
- Lovingly pat into skin to absorb
- Massage quarter-sized amount of sun protector with full presence
This is an act of self-love!
Time to Shine!
Even Robyn Lucas, Ph.D. of the Cancer Council of Australia recognizes that frequent sun exposure is beneficial. And just like the traditional forms of wisdom do, she recommends walking the middle path.
Depending on your skin complexion, 5-30 minutes of daily sun exposure can yield a whole word of benefits. If you’re hesitant to expose a fair-skinned face, then even opening your palms to the sun for 10 minutes invites in the magic – the pores here and on the feet are the largest on the body.Energetically, the early morning rays of sunrise and the mid-afternoon beams of light are the most healing, as they mark peaks of existence.
Sun exposure is just as much about invoking the spirit as it is nourishing the body.
We have a lot to learn from the Sun. Regardless of external validation or superficial circumstance, the Sun shines. It’s the Sun’s very nature to shine. On the path of letting go of attachments to money, expectations, and perceived limitations, we too step into our greatness and shine in our authenticity. This doesn’t mean feeling joy all the time (although I’m all for letting more in!). It means always honoring your light and shining anyway. In doing so, we embrace the freedom of being and become love itself.
Let’s align with shine. We might offer gratitude, a prayer, or our very first breath of the day to the Sun:
Surya Namaskara: The Yogic practice of Surya Namaskara literally means Sun Salutations – a humble prayer to be in harmony with the to the Sun’s everlasting light and power.
Arghyam Ritual: You might start your morning with this beautiful Vedic practice, which entails offering a copper vessel of water to the Sun by pouring it around yourself in a clockwise circle, bowing to the Sun, and holding your hands at your heart in prayer.
Conscious Breath: You might simply breath in the stillness of its light as you feel your shine glowing brighter and brighter.
For more on Surya Namaskara and other morning light rituals, check out Routine + Rituals: Your Magic Morning.
Learn from the Sun
Align with your Shine
May we all be happy, healthy, and free