Sunsets remind us to cherish life—cherish the small, special moments, because nothing lasts forever. The sun’s warm glow will eventually fade into darkness but, by slowing down to pause, we can infuse some wonder and awe into our daily routines. The best part of all: sunsets are easy and free, offering tremendous physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Here are a few reasons to sun gaze more often:
Nature is fuel for the soul. The sun is the force of all life and staring at it can energize you and help you feel better. Research shows watching the sun pass over the horizon stimulates the pineal gland as the direct sunlight hits the eye, moves through retinal-hypothalamic tract and then hits the brain. This boosts the secretion of melatonin and serotonin, our “feel-good” hormones.
According to studies by psychological scientists of Stanford University, breathtaking moments influence participants to be more patient, less materialistic and more willing to volunteer their time to help others.
The effects that awe has over us can change our subjective experience of time by slowing it down and bringing us into the present moment, which, in turn, influences our decisions and makes life feel more satisfying than it would otherwise. It’s easy to get carried away in the motions and feel like each day is flashing by. However, amazingly, by taking the time to gaze out into the colour-soaked sky, we’re actually empowering ourselves to regain control of the clock and, also, gain a blissful sense of love for our surroundings and our life, even if it is fleeting.
Greater engagement with beauty helps relieve stress and tension. When you stare at a breathtaking sunset, you are allowing your brain to take a break from fretting over the past or worrying about the future.
Observing a sunset is the same as practising mindfulness. You can even turn it into a meditation by taking several deep breaths, relaxing your body and calming your mind. Intentionally focus on the sunset and let go; really tune into how the colours and light change as the sunset builds in intensity and then fades.
There is a reason sunsets are standbys of poets, romantics and writers—they’re inspiring! Mahatma Gandhi once said, “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”
Sunsets give us hope. No matter how challenging or heavy our day can be, we can still end on a high note with beauty, abundance and positivity by making the effort to drive, walk, or look over our balcony at the sun descending in the sky.
The goal of life truly is not fame or fortune. The goal of life should be to match your heartbeat to the beat of the universe and soak in as many magnificent views along the way. So, don’t feel guilty next time you pause and take in the powerful effects of a sunset. Your worries will be sure to diminish, while your well-being improves. —Meg Lewis-Schneider
Photo by Jessica Bate.