Sometimes when we slow down to enjoy the pauses, the open spaces in our life, it feels uncomfortable. For some of us, perhaps quite unbearable, and still others, it may feel like bliss. Many factors are at play in regards to how we translate the pauses in our life. We don’t know what those factors are sometimes until we actually slow down and embrace the pause and breathe in the open spaces.
Many spiritual masters have taught the spiritual benefits of fasting as a way to slow down, embrace the pauses, and breathe the spaces within. They taught us that fasting fosters a deeper connection to our highest Self and the Divine. Fasting requires desire, discipline, and faith. We must have the desire to engage in a fast, we must connect to our self-control, and we must have the faith that our desire and discipline will have us coming out on the other side a much more aware and open-hearted being.
I’m not here to recommend one type of fasting over the other. There are so many fasting paths to take; you can decide what works best for you in the current environment you find yourself in. The most important piece here is to find a fast you can commit to. And in my opinion, longer days of fasting aren’t going to get you more connection to your divine essence nor will a certain type of fast be better equipped at guiding you to spiritual enlightenment.
My preferred method of fasting is kitchari fasting. It’s an ancient Ayurvedic practice, an Indian style porridge made of mung bean and basmati rice (you can substitute red lentils for mung bean). I enjoy 3-day seasonal fasts (especially fall and spring). There are other types of fasts that may work for you and you can learn about them here – http://www.allaboutfasting.com/, or investigate your own resources.
Pick a fasting method and stick to it. If you are brand new to fasting a 1-3 day fast is great. There are many wonderful physical benefits of fasting – detox from indulgent eating, weight loss, and digestive system rest and reboot to name a few. However, the fasting piece I’m always most intrigued about is its power to propel us deeper into our emotional healing and spiritual journey.
Fasting requires us to slow down. During a fast we are not getting the regular nutrition our body needs to take on a normal day. I’m not saying we must take a vacation to fast, but we do need to alter our schedule so that we are gentler to ourselves in how we spend time. If your regular routine is to wake up at 5am and run 5 miles or practice an hour of power yoga, then we need to modify these things in our schedule by taking a few days off from our intense exercise schedule or set your exercise intention to be more casual and light. If you have major work deadlines approaching, fasting during that time is not optimal. Rest is very important during a fastl. Think of your fasting time as a mini silent retreat into the depths of yourself. Think more of the following – silence, quiet reflection time, light exercise, epsom salt with essential oil baths, journal writing, meditation, and plenty of rest. Think less of the following – TV, very active exercise, and constant appointments and booked schedules.
So, here it is – day 1 of the fast and we may start freaking out that we aren’t getting our self-soothing through the foods and drinks we put into our body. No coffee, no sugar, no chocolate, no salt – yikes, what have we done?! That’s when we must embrace the pauses and breathe deeply. Our self-soothing will come from within with practice and time, and we must stay steadfast in our desire, discipline, and faith.
It’s very likely that you will experience irritation and moodiness since our ‘drugs’ have been taken away. And you may find some repressed emotions surface, which has you elevating your irritation in angry outbursts or random bits of crying. Let these emotions surface within reason and then let them go. Sometimes we may have old wounds that surface and the emotions we experience can be very painful especially since we aren’t running to external ways to soothe or numb. Instead, during fasting, we bring the emotions to surface to feel and process them in conscious awareness and then in conscious awareness we let them go. In that process, we embrace and manifest emotional healing and a stronger commitment to our spiritual journey.
The possibility of repressed emotion and unconscious triggers coming to light during fasting are very real, and it’s so important that we modify our schedules to have the best healing experience in our fasting commitment. When we commit to fasting for any duration and commit to modifying our schedule to accommodate our fast, we create pauses in our life to slow down and process and check in with our internal world through a sustained conscious awareness. In the everyday busyness that we create, we tend to push emotions down through more busyness, addictive food and drinks, and we create more layers that hide our explosive light.
One fasting commitment isn’t going to bring up all of our repressed emotions or change all of our destructive habits, but it is very likely that it will bring some of these things to the surface so we can begin the long process of shedding our cultural constructs away (a lot of them we didn’t choose), and connect to our more authentic Self.
I had a vision during my recent fasting after I released some painful emotions. I looked out the window and saw this immense light. I was spellbound. I was overwhelmed with the raw beauty of each magnificent color in the spectrum of our being rising with a magnitude of stunning spirit. As the oranges turned to reds, turned to purples, turned to blues, turned to greens, turned to the most explosive yellow light, I dove into the brightest ray of yellow and felt at home. Its warmth enveloped me. In that moment I felt God’s arms around me, embracing me, and loving me in the most pure love I have ever felt and known.
Through fasting, I slowed down, embraced the pauses with conscious awareness, and I breathed deeply in the open spaces. In the pauses, I found the explosive light within.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea