People choose to abstain from food for a variety of reasons: as a rite of spiritual purification, penitence and purification, communion with God, or to enhance healing. For fasting to be a catalyst for spiritual transformation–rather than an experience of discomfort or anxiety–is a good idea to develop a personal plan. Here are some strategies:
Prepare for the fast. Deciding that you want to fast is the first step toward achieving it. Once you have prepared yourself psychologically to dedicate and allot a certain amount of time to the fast, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the best setting and type of fast that’s right for you.
Eliminate problem-causing food.To benefit from the time you spend fasting, eliminate “discomfort-causing” foods and liquids from your diet several days before you begin to fast. Some examples: coffee, tea, excessive sweets, etc.
Clarify the type of fast. Do you intend to take a moderate approach to fasting, and refrain from eating during certain hours of the day? Or would you prefer to follow a juice fast that consists of various types of fruit and vegetable juice? The purest form of fasting, consisting of drinking only water, is a criteria of the vision quest fast.
Identify your intention. Why are you fasting? To commune with nature? Find a solution to a problem? Rest and heal?
Choose a setting.The environment in which you fast should help you to achieve your goals. If possible, select a setting that is conducive to opening you to sensory insights and new perspectives about your life.
Expect stages. When you first begin to fast, your body is still obtaining energy from recently eaten food. Depending on when you last ate, and how much, it will take time for your body physiology to slow down.
Consider activities. Along with deciding to set aside time to fast and “detox” preparation also means planning the activities that will take place during your fast. Some examples: meditating, creating a prayer circle, reading an inspirational book, keeping a journal.
Enhance spiritual awareness. Without the sensory stimulation of food, your thoughts, feelings, and soul are more likely to turn to, and open up to, spiritual subtleties. Without the satiety of food, your senses become keener, visual acuity sharpens, and aromas are more acute.
Break the fast. Fasting can provide an opportunity to give you a new perspective on what and how you usually eat. Before breaking the fast, consider any changes in your relationship t food. When you begin to eat again, choose small portions of easily digestible food, such as broth or soup. The longer you’ve fasted, the more time you’ll need to take to build up to your usual diet.
Adapted from Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul by Deborah Kesten. Copyright@2009 by Deborah Kesten
Deborah Kesten, MPH, is an international lifestyle and health researcher–and Certified Wellness and Cardiac Coach. She also is the award-winning author of The Enlightened Diet, Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, and The Healing Secrets of Food. Call her at 415.810.7874 or visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, coaching, and books.
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