Day 8: Benefits of Fasting

2011.06.27

As may have been guessed by my posting of inspirational, outside resources on the health benefits of fasting, I was becoming a little lazy and lax on documenting my unfolding experiences.

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In many ways, I thought and felt the health benefits of fasting in a  primary way during my first fasting period. For example, I felt that the condition of my skin improved ( it seemed to assist with the alleviation and reduction of my psoriasis) and (most significantly, and as I mentioned previously) it seemed to be very helpful in improving overall mental well being (decreasing anxiety due to ego-related insecurities, increasing patience and equanimity, and facilitating a sense of continuity in personal identity through time). Not to mention, I did have the sense that my body was being detoxified (all claims that are hard to quantify or qualify and maybe can only be justified through first-person experience).

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This second fasting period (which I am currently on the 8th day of) has not only been much easier to start and smoother to transition to- in fact, I looked forward to starting in a way I hadn’t with the first (I had wanted to will to fast the first time around, but not out of any sense I’d feel super-awesome doing it and obviously not because I missed something about it–since I hadn’t experienced a water fast prior to then). The second time around, I wanted to fast because I missed the sense of calmness, stillness, and adventure that comes with it (I know the latter description may seem like an odd concept to place here, but I’ll qualify). Fasting is an adventure (maybe more properly referred to as an  ‘inner-adventure’) wherein you’re required to challenge yourself constantly (in physical and metaphysical planes) and in the process you begin learning about yourself: your own limitations, your relation to the construction (fabrication) of those limitations (becoming aware of the fears and insecurities that you harbor and how they constrain your day-to-day interactions and compromise your potential for freedom and spiritual growth), what it feels like to access deeper levels of subjective (spiritual) self, and (subsequently) what it feels like to open yourself up (in a very powerful sense) to new opportunities and experiences for spiritual growth and understanding through your interactions with others and the outside world. In fact, I think fasting may be one of the most adventurous and insightful experiences one can endeavor upon.

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Yes, this second fasting period has certainly felt like it has been much more of an opportunity to positively experience the spiritual benefits of fasting. Maybe the overcoming and quieting of the physical discomforts (that perhaps, could only have resulted from more consistently practicing the act of fasting itself) helped allow my mind to focus more continuously and intentionally on the spiritual experiences that are facilitated by the practice.

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One thing I realized is that, until only very recently, when someone asked me why I was fasting (what was the point? what do you get out of it? You’re already healthy- so why such ‘extreme’ behavior? Or, any other variant of these concerns that had been voiced) I would be super-cautious in giving a response that cited empirical evidence of the health benefits associated with it (citing some of the clinical studies I had researched) and the personal health benefits I had experienced to that point. In other words, I was making a deliberate effort to try to keep it sounding like a normal, practical endeavor, with beneficial real-world implications (and in other other words, trying to avoid any judgments of mysticism or irrationality or warped religious fervor or obsession over physical appearance).

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