Boost Your Connection to Nature with a Sun Ritual
This feature has been excerpted from 21 Rituals to Connect With Nature by Theresa Cheung, Krysia Newman and Alexandra Wenman (Watkins Publishing, RRP £10.99) and has been reproduced with permission from the publisher. 21 Rituals to Connect With Nature is available now.
by Theresa Cheung
These are confusing and unusual times. Freedoms often taken for granted have been curtailed and access to the outside world – to nature – has been limited. We are facing unprecedented challenges, yet this time also offers us a wonderful opportunity to press reset and look at life from a different perspective.
How many of us are used to interacting with the outside world on a purely transactional level? We are aware of the immense and essential part that nature plays in sustaining every living thing on our planet, but with the complexities of our day-to-day lives it can be easy to take that for granted. Now that we find ourselves confined at home for long periods, connecting with nature has never been so important. In this difficult time, it will help us sleep better, improve our mood and keep us sane. This is a great opportunity to reconnect to our roots that will help us not only now but continue to enrich our lives as life gets back to normal in the months to come.
The aim of nature rituals is to guide and inspire you to deepen your connection with nature, wherever you are right now. You don’t need any previous experience of practising rituals. You don’t need to be a yoga master or a New Age practitioner or therapist – you just need to be you. Just bring your consciousness, positivity and open mind, and nature will do the rest.
This ritual focuses on the sun and how watching the sun rise or set can be transformative for your body, mind, heart and soul. If you’ve never watched the sun rise or set you are missing out on the greatest natural show on Earth. It is an utterly spell-binding experience.
Perform your own sunset or sunrise ritual
Pick a date when you will commit to watching either the sun rise or set and write that date down in your back-to-nature journal or in your diary. If you love getting up early, watching the sun rise will be your obvious choice but, if you are not a morning person, you may prefer a sunset. It doesn’t matter which you choose as both are glorious.
Once you’ve decided on the day, find out what time the sun will rise or set on that particular day. Use a timer to remind you to get up in the morning or go outside in the evening. When the timer goes off, take your phone, set it to airplane mode and go outside. Or take a camera with you instead. Find somewhere safe and comfortable where you can watch the unfolding scene. You can sit down on the ground to perform this ritual, or on a chair, or you can stand – whatever feels most natural to you.
As you watch the sun rise or sink, don’t look directly at it as this isn’t good for your eyes. Simply gaze mindfully at the tapestry of colours painted above you in the sky and how they blend. Let all stresses and anxieties fade away from your mind. Imagine golden light reaching from your heart to the sky and forming an invisible bond.
If you are watching the sun rise, it rises in the east and you will see it emerge from over the horizon and change from a deep red to orange and pink and other colours as it rises up in the sky. Notice rays of light breaking through the clouds. Lose yourself in the scene and visualize hope rising within you.
If you are watching the sun set, it sets in the west and you will see it slowly glide down toward the horizon and paint the sky around it with a stunning celebration of fading light. Enjoy the experience and allow it to fill you with feelings of deep peace.
When you feel the scene is reaching a high point, take a photo or two. You may feel a tingle of excitement or find yourself getting emotional because what you are witnessing is so very beautiful. This is entirely natural and beneficial as the success of this ritual depends on your emotional connection with the sunrise or sunset. Allow yourself to connect your heart and the wonder of nature in this way.
Once the sun has risen or set, say thank you out loud to the sun and return to the activities your morning or evening demand of you, but be sure to take that slice of natural heaven you witnessed with you.
Studies have shown that watching the sun rise or set can ease stress, boost mood and encourage you to feel more generous to others and grateful for what you have. Exposure to natural light, particularly in the morning, can also boost chances of getting a good night’s sleep by regulating hormones. If you connect emotionally to the experience you are more likely to gain positive benefits.
It’s often said that it is impossible to watch the sun rise or set and not dream. Gazing at the blending of beautiful colours splashed across the sky can ignite your creativity and imagination and expand your awareness, reminding you that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Each time you watch the sun rise majestically or retire gracefully you will be filled with a sense of spontaneous awe and gratitude for the gift of your life and for the Earth that sustains it.
If you need more hope in your life, nothing beats the energy and brilliance of a sun rise, and if you need calm and peace, a gorgeous sunset is the best medicine.