Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Power of the Sun

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You know that famous quote, "You never know what you've got till it's gone" ?? Well, I couldn't be more thankful for the sun these days!! After weeks of rain in Maui, the Hawaiian sun is back and hotter than ever!!! Between flash floods, blizzards and snow on top of Haleakala, I was beginning to get a bit worried...  With Spring officially 1 day away, our current 10 day forecast is 80 degrees and sunny EVERY SINGLE DAY and I couldn't be more happier! Sunshine truly is the best medicine! I found this amazing post from one of my favorite blogs: Bldg 25, and absolutely had to share!
Post image for The Healing Powers of the SunI am a sun lover. A sun worshipper if you will. I love everything about it. I love the sting of hot summer sunlight that beams through my window and wakes me up in the morning. I love how the northern winter sun dances atop the ocean in a mesmerizing shimmer. I adore how each day I am greeted with both a sunrise full of promise and a sunset full of peace, a spectacular show put on by beams of light bouncing off of and through clouds in the sky. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the sun warming your face on a cold winter’s day. It’s the sunlight and warmth of summer that we crave in the colder months.
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The sun is the life force of the earth. Without the auspicious combination of a number of factors — including the sun’s size, paired with our planet’s ideal distance from it, and the 24 hours the earth takes to spin on its axis allowing us to receive sunlight regularly — it can be said that life as we know it simply would not exist.
Without the sun, plants wouldn’t photosynthesize and produce oxygen for us to breathe. Without the sun we wouldn’t be able to see. Without the sun, the earth would simply float away out of orbit in the solar system. It’s no wonder that the adoration of the sun was one of the earliest and most natural forms of religious expression. In many cultures, light has long been a symbol of consciousness and illumination, and the opposition between light and darkness has informed the spiritual world of all peoples across almost every belief system no matter what you prescribe to.
The connection between the sun and the divine (or whatever your personal spiritual interpretation or higher being may be) also appears throughout yoga traditions, and any yogi, ancient or modern, will be familiar with sun salutations, a sacred prayer to the sun expressing reverence for the life-giving solar energy. Through asanas, one is said to be offering salutation to the divine, represented here by the sun, as a source of light, removing the darkness of a clouded mind.
Yin and yang. Light and dark. The sun and the moon.
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The sun’s ultraviolet rays hitting our skin literally encourages hormonal changes in our bodies. Like all animals on earth, our biological processes are profoundly affected and even controlled by cycles of sunlight and darkness. When the sun comes up, the sunlight hits the optic nerve (through closed eyes). The light is then sent into the part of the brain which is in control of melatonin, the sleepy hormone. In response, our melatonin levels decrease and serotonin levels (the happy hormone) increase.
Sunshine boosts levels of serotonin which is why we tend to feel happier and more energetic when the sun shines. And the more sunlight the human body is exposed to, the more serotonin the brain produces. Regular sun can even stave off moderate depression (yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing!), particularly if combined with exercise, which naturally releases endorphins, such as a morning walk along the beach.
We’re even capable of producing our own vitamins from the sun, specifically vitamin D which is essential for bone health. Though before you run outside and spend the entire day in the sun to do some healing, always remember to never over-expose yourself to the sun, and if you’re like me and are out in it almost every day, then you have to accept that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I won’t bring up my childhood memories of Australia’s “Slip Slop Slap” campaign from the 1980′s featuring a seagull with a killer-cute lisp (okay maybe I will), but I will say use SPF and wear cover-ups. Think pretty caftans, loose white cotton shirts over swimmers, wide-brim hats and sunglasses. 
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Written by Miann Scanlan