While people in some countries are starving for free, here, many of us are privileged to pay for detoxes or body flushes by buying schmancy marketed teas, diets, even foot pads. But it seems now we’re back to the good the old fashioned fast. Is fasting good for your body? Could a 3-day fast, fer instance, even bring you closer to god?
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GW/BW — I have a weird question I hope you can stretch your format to answer. I’m asking because I saw you guys use meditation as part of your company’s de-stress program, so thought you might know. My question: I want to do a 3-day water and juice fast. Do you know the benefits for physical, and do you think it will help me in a meditative or even spiritual way? I did this once safely way back in college; I’m 40 this year. I’m healthy and not overweight, but just want to get “clean.” — Fast Eddie
Dear Fast Eddie,
Big ups for checking out our online stress management program (shameless plug!). Mediation is just one tool we use in our de-stress book and program, but while we haven’t talked about it, fasting is another excellent way to get back in touch with your body. That’s a foundational piece of how we coach de-stress clients to make changes in their life – through the wisdom of the body, somatically. Yours knows everything you need to know, you just have to be quiet enough to pay attention to the information. Thought (and experience) become emotion, which is expressed physically through the body.
Fasting from a physical perspective, can be good, great or indifferent depending on who you ask. Personally, I’ve had good experiences with it (primarily to listen to my body) resulting in clearer eyes and skin, but it’s not great for weight loss, and only a temporary (or better: jump start/reset button) way to actual detoxing and beginning to eat right. That’s my non-medical layperson’s opinion but one shared by some in the traditional Western medical field. Some faddists and marketers might sell you differently. Critical thinking rocks, Eddie.
If you’re interested in learning how to meditate to de-stress or get more in touch with your spirituality, a short 3-day fast is a good way to start that process somatically but don’t just lie there and expect miracles. [At least take some lessons to learn how to meditate — it’s not a mystical, magical experience for gurus on mountaintops, but can be practical and fun to even relieving daily stress build-up.] Snarkily, if your fasting produces visions or feelings of euphoria but you do not practice meditation regularly — eat something. Dude.
HOW TO FAST FOR BODY WISDOM:
1) jot down feelings (both emotions and physical sensations) right before you start, as you go, and right before you end. What are you feeling and where in the body? Did a specific thought trigger that/other feeling(s)? Note it all. It’d be great to write down how you feel the next day immediately after ending the fast.
2) Take inventory of this arc and see if you can spot any pains, pleasure or (i.e., thought) trends, for instance, that you hadn’t recognized you felt before. All these are vowels, Vanna!
3) Keep reviewing and/or thinking about it over the next week and see where you are then. You can always decide to make this a once-a-month or quarterly ritual if it helps you feel better in any way: body, mind or spirit. That’s enough for now – this simple exercise is anything but. Email us if you want more one-on-one help: email@example.com.
Oh, and don’t forget to let a responsible and capable friend know ahead of time you’ll be fasting. Ask them to be there for you just in case, and put them on your speed dial.
Dear Fast Eddie,
Hard line allopathic (western medical) school of thought will tell you there is no clinical evidence to support the alleged benefits of nutritional fasting. But western medicine does not take into account the spirit, which, ultimately, affects the wellness of the whole.
Disclaimer aside, my beliefs on the subject are far more of an complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approach. Everything you experience in your body is part of the whole system that makes up who you are. What you eat affects not only your physicality but your moods and ability to focus. Mind, body and spirit are irrevocably, intricately linked.
In other words, a cleanse is a great idea. It is a whole body tune up from which we fast food, high processed omnivores can reap great benefits. By lightening up your food intake you allow your body to detoxify from the vast amounts of sugar, preservatives, caffeine and salt present in the average American diet. A nutritional cleanse can improve digestive function, give the liver a much needed vacation and improve mental clarity. You will also find it improves your meditation practice.
As I said before food affects mood. Orthomolecular medicine is built on this natural philosophy, using food to cure schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Vitamins and trace elements available in certain foods can increase serotonin production and other “happy” hormones. We get into nutrition and mood quite deeply in Chpt. 3 of Less Stress, More Life. The average American diet may actually be as responsible for our epidemic of depression and reliance on anti-depressants as much as our obesity crisis. In the film Supersize Me we witness prolonged fast food binging causing bouts of depression only alleviated by eating more fast food.
By detoxing through your 3-day fast, you break the cycle of addiction (sorry for the caffeine headache coming your way) and allow your spirit to draw the “sweetness of life” from the life around you instead of the fridge or a take-out bag. Your meditations will probably be deeper and more colorful. Detoxing often helps remove some of the “veils” we put between ourselves and our inner knowing.
Great idea. Now I need lemons, water and cayenne pepper…
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