Scientists are experimenting with light therapy to treat mental and physical health.
They use light boxes and assign research participants to sit in front of the boxes for an hour every morning at a specific time.
- Light therapy has been shown to help boost mood (increase serotonin), reduce depression (the effect size was similar to antidepressants), treat insomnia and PTSD. Light therapy helps with chronic pain and reducing inflammation.
- Researchers find large individual differences in how sensitive different people are to light. (Large effects were observed in some people. Others did not respond to light.)
I experimented with meditating on daylight to support healing.
The meditation was during daylight. Before we began, I instructed participants, if there was daylight in the room, to turn off artificial lights. Then sit comfortably and close their eyes.
In the first step of the meditation, after checking in and settling in, I guided participants to bring their awareness to the light in the room, keeping their eyes closed. Inhale light. Pause. Exhale. Pause. Each time you inhale, inhale light.
We continued this breathing visualization throughout the practice.
Most of the 25 minutes involved a progression of very gentle neck movements. At three different transition points, participants rested, then brought light to lighten or heal whatever needed healing.
Ironically, I realize that my meditation had parallels to the scientific research.
Study participants could use their computer (in between the two light boxes), or do whatever they wanted.
My meditation class had to leave their computers on, to hear the meditation.
More importantly, in the scientific research, healing through bright morning light was passive. All that was asked of the participant was to sit there, for the right amount of time.
In the light therapy meditation, the movement steps were so subtle that describing them used up most of the available space for guiding. And following the steps kept the minds highly focused on doing the movements.
Throughout the entire practice they were inhaling light. Somewhat similar to sitting in front of two light boxes while doing something else.
In the discussion afterwards, participants described how aware they were of where the source of natural light was in the room. As they moved raised and lowered, turned, and tilted their head, they were noticing the interaction with the source of natural light in the room.
There are endless ways to use light for healing in meditation.
I realize that these Deep Experience explorations are my explorations at least as much as they are explorations for my participants.
The light boxes photograph is from this research publication:
Burgess, H. J., Rizvydeen, M., Kimura, M., Pollack, M. H., Hobfoll, S. E., Rajan, K. B., & Burns, J. W. (2019). An Open Trial of Morning Bright Light Treatment Among US Military Veterans with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Pilot Study. Pain Medicine, 20(4), 770–778.
If you decide to do the meditation, I am always interested in hearing about your experience.