HOLISTIC SUN CARE: LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE SUN
HOLISTIC SUN CARE: LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE SUN
The sun is one of our most needed sources for life on Earth, without it we would not survive, let alone thrive. It is one of the main elements needed to grow our food, it is our main element in order to produce vitamin D in our bodies, it activates feel good emotions in our bodies, and is said to energise us! So why in modern Western Culture are there so many people fearing this vitality source?
If we are not taught the holistic health benefits of the sun, we will not know to value it as a society, and not bother to include it into our daily/weekly routines, even more disturbing (and unfair) is how much fear of the sun is being instilled into us, as a society, through general Western media due to the uprise of skin cancer, how much of the information portrayed to us is true, and given from a holistic perspective? And how much is funded from sunscreen companies?
The ancient’s view of the sun was quite different to our modern-day one. From the dawn of history, the sun has been worshipped by nearly every culture… Bunn, M 2010 Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health, p 215, para 2.
Having grown up in Western Culture, I too developed a fear of the sun, not wanting to spend too much time in it, although loving the outdoors, I learnt to always put sunscreen on when at the beach or pool, wear a hat, and still I got burnt, it almost felt normal to get burnt, like ‘oh man the sun got me this time, maybe I should have re-applied my sunscreen more often’. Getting burnt is NOT normal, or something that just happens. I constantly heard and still hear people tell me that my olive skin allows me to handle the sun much better than fair skin. I do not agree, it is each person’s tolerance level that gets built through continuous exposure to sunlight that allows that person to be in harmony with the sun. My skin can go very fair in Winter if I do not visit the beach and expose my body to sunshine, and if I do I keep a subtle golden glow (from the sun, the food I choose to eat, and the natural-only products I use on my skin), by exposing my skin year round to the sun, I am able to experience longer periods in the sun without the need for sunscreen, and without burning (traumatising) my skin.
I also have a feeling the heavy chemical sunscreens, synthetic body scrubs, synthetic body lotions and creams are what are contributing to sun cancer, our skin is our largest organ, everything we put on it gets absorbed straight into our blood stream. Think about hot skin under the sun, pores opening up wide with the heat, acting as direct channels into our blood stream, on top of that, think about people smothering layers of toxic chemical sunscreen onto their skin, not only are they loading their bloodstream with toxic chemicals (that will need to be filtered back out by the body!) But they are also preventing their body from synthesising vitamin D, which is one of the biggest assets for balanced immune systems - so we have toxic chemicals, and a body not strong enough to filter those chemicals back out, this concept makes me think of dis-ease in the body.
‘Our bodies need sunlight to manufacture the all-important vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a major role in all our vital bodily functions. These include gene expression, cell replication, calcium absorption and bone health, as well as the regulation of our immune system. Quite recent research has shown that immune system T cells do not become active without sufficient vitamin D. Direct sunlight exposure assists us in fighting infection, stimulates our brain chemistry, regulates our internal body clock, and even promotes balanced weight management through its effects on metabolic and thyroid function.’ Bunn, M 2010 Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health, pp 211 - 212, para 4.
How I currently Enjoy a Harmonious Relationship with the Sun
I build up my tolerance, personally I still prioritise some time in the sun and at the ocean even in Winter these days, however even with this Winter exposure I am mindful when summer hits to not go and spend extended periods of time in the sun – I go out into the sun, I take a long shirt and a hat with me if I want to stay at the beach for longer or are with friends who plan to be there for longer, I’ll enjoy my bare skin in the sun for a period of time - this might be just 15 - 30mins on the first summer days, which then builds to an hour or three, as soon as I feel I’ve had enough (you just know!) but you can also test by pressing your fingers firmly onto your skin, to see if the contrast of the skin not being pressed is red, if it is you have most likely had enough sun, time to cover up. I’ll cover up with a loose, long sleeve shirt, and wear a wide brimmed hat, that usually does the trick, especially sitting crossed legged on my towel, if my legs are still getting too much sun, I’ll either move to the shade or place a sarong over them. After a few of these days, the skin builds up its tolerance effortlessly, and I still get to spend time in Nature with friends. By the middle of summer I can spend hours in the sun without traumatising my skin / without getting burnt. I did spend 3 hours in the middle of the day one of these summer days and I felt I reached a point where I had enough, but we were exercising and having lots of fun so I stayed in my swimmers, my chest was red that night (not painful), the rest of my body was normal tone and not in any pain, I thought I was going to wake up with a burnt chest, but surprisingly my body was fine the next day, I had a slightly darker tan. This experience supports the idea that Mark Bunn presents in Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health, where he states that …when we get regular exposure to UVB sunlight, we optimise our vitamin D level, which further assists our bodies to resist illness over time. With adequate vitamin D and appropriate skin defences, even if we were to get too much sun on a particular dar, our bodies will generally have the ability to counteract any damage before it becomes hazardous’ p 220 para 3. I do not encourage people spending too much time in the sun, I am simply sharing my experience that supports this idea of the powerful healing effects of vitamin D in the human body. It is also worth noting I had no desire to spend much time in the sun the following two days, I trusted that feeling, and enjoyed activities in the shade.
It is also worth noting that if you work week days inside, and then go to the beach on week-ends only, you may only be able to tolerate 15mins in the sun, the key is to build up your body’s natural synthesis with sun light, so finding a way to include sun exposure on week days would really help this.
‘When we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies produce substances such as melanin that protect our skin from UV radiation. Melanin is like our own natural sunscreen. When exposed to UVB sunlight, we also synthesise vitamin D, which….is directly correlated with protection from many serious diseases including most common cancers. Yet we are commonly advised to cover up or stay indoors during the middle of the day because it increases our risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. This is despite the fact that melanomas occur on parts of the body that get the least amount of regular sun exposure. Even if this anomaly was due to melanomas spreading, illness tends to manifest in the weakest part of the body–the ‘weakest link in the chain’ analogy. Why are the least exposed areas the weakes link? The most likely reason is that the sun, in repeated small and safe doses ,actually protects us from cancer.’ Bunn, M 2010 Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health, pp 219 - 220, para 4.
I came to this realisation with approaching the sun from a holistic perspective, and then read Mark Bunn’s book Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health 2010, which was a nice synchronicity as his view was inline with my findings, and really resonated truth within me. Truth known by the Ancients, having to be re-taught in modern Western Culture. Overall I feel so much happier, alive, and inspired with life now that I am re-teaching myself to live in harmony with the natural elements and cycles of Earth - it bring me joy to see children that have skin glowing from the food they eat, the sunshine kisses, salty water soaks! I deeply believe that our natural state is vibrant health, and desire for more of us to experience the joy that this natural state brings into One’s experience. Namaste.