Author: Tessa Petros
On a typical day, a typical person thinks about food at least twenty times a day. Starting from the time you wake up. "What am I going to have for breakfast?” you think. Then you look in the refrigerator, pull out the milk and realize you don’t have anything to take to work for lunch. So you start thinking, "oh... well I have to go out to get a sandwich at lunch time". While you’re waiting for your lunch break, you’re thinking about what deli you want to go to. Then you start fighting with yourself: “No, wait, I want a burrito instead --no, wait, I'm gunna be healthy and go for a salad instead. Ya a salad”. Only one hour to go! During your hour the thought of the burrito sounds better and better when compared to your salad, but you decide on the salad at last. Lunch finally comes! So you start walking toward the local lunch joint to get your salad. As you’re waiting in line you read the menu and you choose your salad, then still waiting you start reading the other choices. “Oh, the sandwiches do sound nice”, you think to yourself, “what should I get”. The choices are zooming in and out of your head. The Cashier asks you, "what can I get for you?” You say, "I’ll take the salad, No, the veggie sandwich... No, I mean yes... The veggie delight, with extra cheese". What a relief lunch is covered. As you’re waiting for your lunch, suddenly you realize you don't have any food at home... dun, dun, dun and you start thinking of the chore of grocery shopping after work...
I know this is a bit silly, but I bet most of us can relate to the situation above. As you can see, food, the thought of food, and the making of food takes up so much time during your daily life... Why not take a break? Fasting, give it a try! Of course freeing up some spare time is a good thing but maybe not convincing enough a reason to skip eating all together. But good news, there are so many other great aspects of fasting. Fasting can affect our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Fasting will rest the digestive system, allow for cleansing and detoxification of the body, create a break in eating patterns - while shining a spotlight on problem areas, promote greater mental clarity, cleanse and heal "stuck" emotional patterns, and lead to a feeling of physical lightness and increased energy level. It also promotes an inner stillness, enhancing your spiritual connection. These benefits of fasting are not limited only to traditional fasts like water or juice, but can be attained through cleansing diets of raw food or fruits as well; although the effects will be less pronounced as they occur over a longer period of time, but they will be there.
Fasting is a wonderful antidote for our usual over-indulgences. There's nothing wrong with enjoying our food, but excess food on a continuous basis does create a burden for the body. When it must handle more than is comfortable and appropriate for it, it will suffer. Our bodies are amazing fat storing tools, and we are meant to use our stored fat in times of need to survive. Because most of us don’t have lives that require us to live off of our stored fat, we just go on collecting it, along with a build-up of toxins and waste.
When our bodies are overworked from the constant eating and digesting, they tuck their other jobs away for another day. Whatever tasks can be postponed will be. And more work is dumped on our bodies at every meal and every snack time, whether the body is ready for it or not. This is why fasting is a beautiful gift to give to yourself - a vacation for your overworked and under-appreciated body.
During fasting, we rest our systems from the constant onslaught of food. We usually think of food as giving us energy, so it can be a new way of thinking to understand how the food we eat actually requires energy. Digestion, assimilating and metabolizing - these passive activities require a great deal of energy. It is estimated that 65% of the body's energy must be directed to the digestive organs after a heavy meal.
Free up this energy and it can be diverted into healing and recuperation. It can detox and repair cells, tissues and organs, eliminating foreign toxins. This is what the body will do during a fast. It will take advantage of that time and energy to do some housecleaning. The overloaded and overworked system, unable to properly handle all the toxins, has been storing any excess in the tissues to be dealt with later. This is one of the great benefits of fasting, it offers the body a chance to play catch-up.
Fasting isn't necessarily a “cure” for anything. What it does do is “set the stage” or create an environment in which healing can occur. Our bodies know how to heal themselves. We just have to "get out of the way" and let the process happen. Fasting has a way of balancing us on all levels of our being.
Believe it or not... Fasting can even give us more energy. When you have passed the stage of dealing with detox symptoms, a fast will have you feeling lighter, more energetic, more enthusiastic, and you will even require less sleep.
Because fasting improves mental clarity and focus, it can become a tool in your life to give you greater freedom, flexibility, and energy to get done the things and projects that are important to you. Many experienced fasters find it helpful to fast whenever they need an additional boost for a major project or deadline. For example, writing a paper, preparing for a big presentation, or getting ready for a long trip. Artists and writers often talk about fasting during great creative inspiration; that it helps keep the momentum going. This may not be the case for a beginner, it is important that you give it a try a few times first so that you know how your body is going to react during a fast. You may find that you suffer from a "detox headache" and require more time just relaxing.
Emotionally you will feel calmer, clearer and happier. Fasters often report that depression lifts and goals begin to feel more obtainable as obstacles are put into proper focus. Doctors have reported patients experiencing improved concentration, less anxiety, sleeping better and waking refreshed.
Let’s not forget the powerful effects of fasting on our spiritual connection. Fasting allows us to take our attention inward; we listen to our bodies and become quiet. That quiet quality time you spend looking inward will, if you are willing, give you a greater sense of kinship with your inner being. Connecting your body and mind. Balancing your body and mind.
Without the addition of heavy foods into the system, and after any major detox symptoms have passed, the body takes on a lighter, less dense feeling. This helps to create a separation from ordinary physical reality and all the worldly possessions; instead you begin to sense the presence and power of the things beyond this world.
Mediation and prayer become clearer. You begin to intuitively feel that you are loved and supported every minute of your day and of your life. Recognition that there truly is a higher plan or purpose will become more real as it is intuitively experienced rather than only intellectually understood.
Your experience will be deeply personal and unique. Sometimes subtle too. You have to pay attention to the little things; you have to be quiet enough internally to pick up the teachings of a changed attitude or perception.
For those who want to live a yogic lifestyle, fasting will help you. For those who want to bring your life, your spirit, your mentality and your health to the highest level, fasting is necessary.
Fasting, why not try it! What is the harm? I bet you will like it!
You can start with short-term fasting. Even short fasts will help you enjoy the many benefits of fasting, allowing the body, digestive tract and organs a chance to rest and repair and heal. You will begin the process of rebuilding your inner connection to your physical body as well as your inner spirit.
The benefits of fasting reach into all areas of our lives. Whether you want to fast for health or increased mental clarity, you will get benefits of both, only maybe not all in the first day. Fasting is an ongoing practice that grows and deepens over time, delivering more and more meaningful benefits every time you try...
To engage in healthy fasting we don’t need to be the picture of health or vitality. In most cases all that is necessary is average good health. There are also precautions for healthy fasting, so please don't just stop eating today without getting the proper information on how to start and stop a fast. If interested in learning more I suggest you go to your local library and check out a book or two on how to fast. One book I can recommend is Eat-stop-Eat by Brad Pillion; this is an online book about how to fast for weight loss. But it does have great information and detailed ways of healthy fasting... You can also consult your Doctor for information on healthy fasting, especially if you have pre-existing health problems. In all I hope that your eyes are open to trying this age old practice, and you will be willing to, if not incorporate it into your regular life, just try it once.
The views expressed are solely those of the author. Yogapoint.com may or may not agree with all statements.
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