“Fasting is that weird thing religious people do where you don’t eat so that you can go to heaven or something. I dunno. Pass the bacon.”
Or it’s a way to focus your mind, body, and spirit, exercise self-control and channel your energy away from cramming things down your foodhole and towards other things you may be trying to accomplish.
I’ve already written about the religious aspects of fasting, and won’t go into that again save to say that, at least in Christian tradition, there are no hard-and-fast fasting rules in Scripture; it’s all based on ancient traditions. If I had to boil the practice down to a sentence, it would be this:
A little humility does a lot of good.
First, let me acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
But I’m not doing this for reward or accolades. I’m just trying to pass along an experience that’s worked for me in the event that maybe it’ll work for you.
So why am I fasting, even though Lent and Easter finished months ago?
Am I trying to lose weight? Who isn’t? Intermittent fasting is a thing that many say helps achieve your fitness goals. And while this is a part of why I’m fasting now–it’s nice to not feel stuffed and bloated, weight down by all the garbage we tend to eat!–that’s not the only reason I’m fastinjg.
Am I trying to accomplish something? I was. I was working furiously to finish the second draft of my book, which I did last week a little past the deadline I set for me, but it’s done regardless. Still, there are always other things we want to accomplish in our lives.
Am I trying to commune with The Spirit? Yes. This one is a bit more subtle, but there are things in my life that need work, and I’m taking a page out of Jesus’ book: “. . . this kind [of demon] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
So all of the above. As Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes always harps on, and with good reason: physicality = mentality = spirituality. Everything is connected.
When I’m not worrying about the food I consume, I start to think about the other stuff I consume.
Not worrying about what I’m going to eat every 45 minutes confers clarity, focus, and calmness. It’s helped a lot.
(Coffee and lots of water help too, but that’s something you’ll all have to work out for yourselves.)
But there are other things we consume, things like ideas . . . information . . . and what we perceive to be wisdom or insight.
There’s so much of it, and having heightened clarity of thought helps discern the beneficial from the harmful. This includes harmful, self-destructive behaviors.
The same goes with our feelings, too. One would think that being hungry would lead to crankiness, which in turn would lead to giving in to negative emotions. But my personal experience has been the opposite of that. Fasting confers clarity, and the act of contrilling what I eat helps me exercise control over other aspects of my life.
Am I saying that I’ve cast demons out of people? No. I don’t think so, at least. But maybe I’ve cast something out of myself, something that was making me lose focus and act in ways that I knew weren’t right.
And things have gotten better. A lot better. It’s slow, steady, incremental progress, but that’s how most lasting progress is. Is the fasting a part of it? Is it my imagination? Is this all nothing but “superstitous woo”?
Maybe it is. Maybe correlation isn’t causation. But if things aren’t going right, and you change something, and then things do start going right, you may be on to something. And at the least, it’s better than doing nothing different and carrying on with the same old ineffective and troubling behaviors.
If you’re having trouble with any of the three main spheres in your life, maybe try a little bit of fasting. There’s a reason it’s been a common practice for millennia.