I recently saw the feature length documentary, Eat the Sun, and was inspired to explore the practice of sungazing.
The practice of sungazing closely resembles its name. At sunrise and/or sunset, when the sun is closest to the earth, sungazers stand barefoot on the earth and look directly at the sun for 10 seconds. Every day, 10 seconds are added and some sungazers eventually reach a duration of 44 minutes. 
The theory is that the sun is the force of all life, and staring at it can infuse the body with large amounts of energy. So much so that one of the sungazers featured in the film, Hira Ratan Manek, claims to have gone eight years without eating. He has been “eating” a steady diet of solar rays, and claims that this is all he needs for nourishment.
Our ancestors understood the relation between the sun and health. From the Aztecs to the ancient Egyptians, many past societies revered sungazing as an esoteric practice for high-ranking priests and shamans. Today, it is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and sungazers claim it has its benefits.
- Boosts production of melatonin and serotonin. Research shows sungazing stimulates the pineal gland as the direct sunlight hits the eye, moves through retinal-hypothalamic tract, and then hits the brain. This stimulates the pineal gland, also known as the “master gland”. This boosts the secretion of melatonin and serotonin, our "feel-good" hormones.
- Increased energy levels. Modern day sungazers say the practice has boosted their vitality. This is probably related to the secretion of the aforementioned hormones.
- Increases the actual size of the pineal gland. Not only can this practice boost hormone levels, it has also been shown to increase the size of the pineal gland. Normally, as we age, the pineal gland shrinks. However, brain scans of a long-term practitioner of sungazing show that this 70 year-old man has a gland three times as big as a normal man.
- Promotes weight loss. One of the historical theories for sun gazing was that the body and mind could be nourished by the sun, reducing the need for food. Similarly, some modern day sungazers say they have lost excess weight, and some even report a total loss of the desire and need to eat.
Sungazing is an interesting practice that touches the spiritual and psychological realms, which are very personal things. Everyone is wired a little differently and this practice isn't for everyone, nor is it something I recommend. If you choose to partake, do your own research, be careful, be cautious, and document your experience.
- Sungazing.com. How to sungaze. 2011.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.