Here is a wonderful piece about Sun Soaking by mind, body and spirit author and educator William Bloom, its something i feel we all need to practice right now in the depths of winter and in the snow chaos all around. (Well the chaos is mainly in the UK right now where everything has ground to a halt, in Norway they are so used to snow that they just carry on as normal, but that means i'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that my family can still fly out from London tonight to join us for Christmas here in Oslo.) But wherever you are have a read, its good stuff:
As we move deeper into the winter months some of you may begin to miss the sunlight and even go into that form of melancholy and low energy, known as SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is a natural remedy for this, which might work for you — it works for me — and which also teaches some useful lessons for other areas of our lives, personal and spiritual.
I am sure that many of you will be familiar with these strategies, but this is what I do. It does not matter what else is going on in my life, if the sun is out, I make sure that I go and sit in the sunlight for fifteen minutes every day, my face directly towards it. I wrap up warmly, plonk myself in a garden chair and absorb the rays. I learned this years ago from a young Norwegian friend who told me that this was the way that he survived the long Scandinavian winters. I do it first thing in the morning or during work-breaks.
When I write ‘absorb the rays’, that is exactly what I do. Using my imagination and visualisation, I work with my body’s subtle sensations so that I imagine and feel that my flesh, muscles and bones are absorbing the sunlight. I breathe it in. In particular, I feel it coming into my eyes and travelling down the optic nerve and into my brain. I absorb the sunlight into my brain cells and then visualise it going down my spinal cord and into the rest of my nervous system.
This is not simple sun-bathing. It is sun-soaking.
I also practice a strategy from internal martial arts and qi gong, known as ‘bone marrow breathing’ and I sense the sunlight sinking into my bones and bone marrow. As I inhale, the sunlight comes into my bones. As I exhale, the sunlight is absorbed and distributed.
Whilst, I am focused on the sunlight, I know that I am also absorbing into my body the natural healing energy and vitality that permeates the natural world and the universe. At the same time, this triggers the production of endorphins, the ‘miracle’ hormones of wellbeing. This is very good for my health. It feels great.
Now you may be familiar with these strategies, but here is the point. Do you actually practise them regularly? Every day? Do you do what is good for you? Over the years, over and over again, for example, I keep meeting healers who never use their own strategies on themselves.
‘I have a toothache,’ one of them says.
‘Have you directed healing energy into the roots and pain?’ I ask.
Typically, they reply that they have not. This is interesting, isn’t it, this forgetfulness we may have about looking after ourselves. Sunlight and healing energy are there for the taking. You don’t have to do anything except be open to receiving them.
So here is another crucial question, which may be relevant both to your relationships and your spiritual life. Are you open to receiving good things? Do you allow yourself to receive people’s love, affection and positive comments? Do you also allow yourself to receive the healing energy that permeates the whole universe?
In spirituality, one of its most central practices is to connect regularly with the wonder and energy of life — with God, with spirit — and be able to just relax, be empty and receive its blessing of positive energy and love.
You do not have to do anything special to receive this love except be open to receive it. This basically means that you stop buzzing around for a while, calm down and place yourself in a receptive state. In some spiritual traditions, this is called ‘emptying’ — just being an empty pot and allowing yourself to be filled.
Most of you know about these strategies, but as I wrote above, many of you may not do them. Often, I have noticed, this forgetfulness is accompanied by self-sabotaging.
Perhaps you lack the self-discipline to do what is good for you. Perhaps you take your work too seriously. Perhaps you feel some kind of psychological block to receiving and absorbing good things. Perhaps you feel unworthy or are simply just not in the habit of receiving.
Well, let me give you a brotherly nudge, my friends. Absorb the good energy from the sun. Chill out and absorb the benevolent healing energy of the cosmos. They are abundantly available. Just because you are alive and part of the cosmos, you are able to access and absorb them. All you have to do is open up and let it all in.
And here is another important reminder
Even when it is hidden by cloud or during the night, the sun is always there. This is a bit like a pantomime when the audience shouts, ‘It’s behind you!’ Whether you can see the sun or not, we are always part of the solar system and the great golden disc, the solar deity, is ever present.
Just open your heart, visualise and sense its presence even when you cannot see it.
So, in the long winter nights, especially when your own internal weather is moody and melancholic, lighten up. Cheer up. The sun, the healing energy and the unconditional love that fills the cosmic ocean are always there. Relax and receive.
All my love