You may have seen a number of memes and articles floating around the internet and social media these last few weeks, all talking about sun-gazing. You may have also seen the terms sun-eater and Breatharian. Besides the obvious looking at the sun action, what exactly is this you ask?
Sun-gazing, as postulated by its followers, is the act of looking at the sun and being able to live off of it. They say you can rid yourself of diseases, become clear in the mind, sustain life with no food (like a plant) and also acquire super-human abilities. It supposedly takes a lot of discipline and gradual dosage increases over months and years to obtain the highest levels.
Although its meditative aspects might be quite calming, what I’m really interested in is the safety of the practice. The first concern is the most obvious. It requires looking at the sun. Doctors, opticians and optometrists regularly recommend not looking directly into the sun
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11419039 , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15575813 ). The practice of sun-gazing suggests 10 seconds the first day, while slowly increasing after that to over 40 minutes after 90 days. Even though they suggest doing the gazing during dusk and dawn, damage is still possible and increases with prolonged gazing. Developing cataract problems is of great concern (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14569187 ).
The second and most important concern is the reduction or complete avoidance of food. I think the idea of living only off the solar energy of the sun to be unattainable. Sun-gazers claim that it is like plants, but just like plants, our bodies also need nutrients and water. These nutrients provide much more than energy that our bodies use. Nutrients also help in the multitude of bodily processes and also as part of the building blocks of our bodies themselves. Without calcium, for example, we wouldn’t have bones.
There have been a few cases of persons having severe complications because of this and also death. Recently, a Swiss woman succumbed to the perils of this practice (http://www.torontosun.com/2012/04/25/woman-living-only-on-sunlight-dies ). A woman named Jasmuheen, who is a self-proclaimed expert on the practice, fell ill to the effects of dehydration, stress and high blood pressure within 48 hours during an episode of Australia’s 60 Minutes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasmuheen). After 4 days, the doctor cancelled the test due to weight loss, dilated pupils, slowed speech, and the risk of kidney failure. It is because of these two concerns, that this practice is something that I would say is not worth the risk.