So I’ve just been reading an excellent blog post by Aubrey Marcus on his Onnit website called ‘Nine to Nirvana: 9 Exercises for Mastering the Mind’ [link here] about 9 different ideas of enlightening the mind: including yoga, different forms of meditation and some other things.
#5 on his list was fasting, and it reminded me of when I did a water fast a couple of years ago for about 30 hours, sort of as an experiment. Two things happened, and I thought I’d share my experiences, both good and bad.
Now, I know 30 hours isn’t that long but it really was a struggle, especially as somebody who is so reliant on food. At that time I was eating at least 5 or 6 times a day and food was as much about the mental as it was about the physical.
‘Come on, you need to eat now. It’s been three hours since you last ate,’ regardless of whether my body was hungry or not, my mind decided that it was time to eat.
Well, sometimes you’ve got to tame the wild mind with something a bit brutal, and that was my water fast.
So I was reading online about doing a water fast. Basically you do nothing but drink water for a 30-hour period. Some people do it for up to seven days, and I don’t really know how they do it, although I would hazard a guess that the mental symptoms go away after more than 48 hours, but I still think it must be pretty hard.
So I went from around 2pm one day to 11pm the next night without eating, solely relying on water.
The first day and night was pretty easy. I’d eaten quite a big breakfast that morning so it powered me through the Friday night as it was and it was actually kind of liberating not having to prepare dinner that night and having more time to myself.
So two big things happened on the water fast that were unusual and that I can remember very clearly.
One is that my poo became yellow. I read online that this was apparently the liver cleaning out the bile and putting it into my faeces. My poo was also like diarrhoea, and I took it as a sign that all was not well in my colon, but that at least the fast had worked at getting rid of some of the awful stuff in there.
When on a water fast, the whole body starts detoxing itself, or cleaning itself. You basically give the body the green light to do that since it’s not absorbing any nutrients and having to work at digesting food, so anything undigested sitting in your colon starts to get broken down; and in my case any bile that the liver doesn’t need any more gets excreted (or something like that anyway).
So, apart from the yellow stools, which I saw as a positive way of showing that my body was eliminating some ‘bad stuff’, some other things happened to me on the water fast.
For one, I became much more interested in finding out about things. I spent the whole day reading online articles and I found I had a lot more time in my day to do things other than eating. Once I had told my mind, ‘Look, you are not eating until this evening,’ it stopped nagging me for food and I could concentrate on other things.
I wasn’t obsessing about food or planning meals for the next week but instead I was pondering the deeper sides of my brain that had perhaps been untouched for some time.
The major downside I found on a water fast was that I didn’t sleep very well. It was almost as if my brain or my body didn’t require the sleep it usually needed as it was not processing lots of food, but this was not really ideal because it gives you a hard time sleeping and more time thinking and dreaming about food.
I ended up getting probably four hours sleep; about half what I usually get, so it was a pretty uncomfortable one night on the fast.
So let’s get on to the meditative part of the whole fast. On the second day in the evening I got in a very warm shower and for a moment it felt as if God was talking directly to me. He told me to stop trying to please other people and focus on myself.
It sounds barmy but it felt like an actual conversation with a higher being. Maybe it was just my subconscious talking to me, but in that moment I felt like I spoke to God.
Maybe it was the hot water or just that my unconscious mind was talking to me, but it felt like a bit of an epiphany if you like or a breakthrough.
Whether I’ve actually followed the advice I received that day is another thing, but any deep connection with your subconscious, or God if you believe it was that, can only be good for your whole being, so as a result I would recommend a water fast to other people.
It’s also good to deny your cravings at times, to know that you can go for an extended period of time without food and that being hungry is actually a good thing both mentally and physically.
The point is fasting can be a meditative experience and a bit of a clear-out for your body, although I wouldn’t advise it for an extended period of time, and I certainly wouldn’t advise it if you are doing lots of heavy exercise or have mental problems of some kind, or any huge obligations to fulfil.
Fasting for me is a spiritual thing and also a selfish act, I suppose. It means you are focusing entirely on yourself as you are, and you may find you don’t really have much to give the world or other people while you are fasting.
Fasting is done for you and you only.
You can probably get away with fasting for a weekend if you have nothing to do that weekend and you can just chill at home and want to expel a few toxins.
You might even have a chat with a higher power.
Fasting for Three days can Regenerate Entire Immune system – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/fasting-for-three-days-can-regenerate-entire-immune-system-study/