“Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us. The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
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“How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! To behold this alone is worth the pains of any excursion a thousand times over. The highest peaks burned like islands in a sea of liquid shade... The lakes seen from every ridge-top were brilliantly rippled and spangled, shimmering like the thicket of the low dwarf pines... I strode on exhilarated, as if never more to feel fatigue, limbs moving of themselves, every sense unfolding like the thawing flowers, to take part in the new day harmony.”
-- John Muir, Wilderness Essays (Peregrine Smith Books, 1980) -- writings from the 1870s
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Do you find yourself craving sunshine at this time of year? Many of us do. And on sunny hikes we hear comments about how absolutely wonderful the sunshine is.
I bring up the subject of sunshine and full-spectrum light in these Updates at least a couple times each year, in part because of all the bad press the sun tends to receive.
Yes, it’s obvious that we have to be careful to avoid excess exposure or sunburn, which is really only a potential issue locally from mid-spring to mid-fall each year.
Too many people have internalized scare stories about the dangers of sunshine, such that some people plaster a thick layer of sunscreen on their skin in all seasons and avoid the sun like it’s a mortal enemy (in fact, many experts now say that we all should be getting some “unprotected” sun year-round, whenever possible).
Part of my point in bringing up this subject is that there’s ample research that reveals many benefits from imbibing full-spectrum sunlight that extend far beyond the importance of vitamin D, and that it actually appears to provide some protection against possible skin or other cancers. As often happens with the media, scare stories get much more play than reports about positive health benefits.
There’s a reason why so many of us crave sunshine during a season when sunshine is scarcest, namely in winter. It’s that we absolutely NEED sunshine!
In the past I’ve often quoted John Ott (1909-2000), who spent much of his life researching the effects of full-spectrum sunlight on living things, and reported in his books that such light is essentially like a nutrient that’s vital to our well-being.
Thus the message that some of us want to convey: namely that just as we may try to practice good nutrition to stay healthy, it’s extremely important that we regularly get out in natural sunlight (which we benefit from even on cloudy or rainy days).
Some of you who haven’t been hiking with us this winter plan to join us on spring trips. We’ve already had a number of gorgeous sunny days and bouts of spring-like weather this winter, of course. Is it time to book some sessions of Sun Therapy?
-- Charlie Cook