I went on a long fast/cleansing about 7 years ago, and what follows are my reflections I want to share upon that experience.
To me: you’ve lost a lot of weight. Me: Yes I have. To me: um, are you ok, you’re not…um… sick? Me: No I’m not. To me: Was it intentional? Me: yes it was. Later, to my roommate: oh my god! what is that girl doing, doesn’t she know… Yes I do know.
So quickly the facts: First and foremost, for those who don’t know: I am deeply spiritual. I would like to clear out the confusion of that and say that I follow more of Pagan, and Earth based views more than anything else in my life now. Back when this experience took place, I thought I was an Atheist. (I do not need lectures, please!)
I fasted for a total of 57 days; that is 57 days without solid food. My intake was pretty much juice, tea and a vegetable broth that I cooked every other day or so. I transitioned in for 5 days and I transitioned out for the same number. Thus I was doing the full on body/mind/soul cleansing thing for 67 days over a period of two months. I started on February 6th and ended on April 13th. I felt better than I had for years. Really, I feel like I did in the happiest days of my life or perhaps even when I was a freshman in high school. That’s pretty good for being 25 with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and MS (I’m not going to get into my mental problems here….yet) during the course of the fast I dropped about 60 pounds and at the time I had gained back about 10, currently since I would say about 20 pounds.
So why did I do it? Why is a big question. It can be applied to so many facets of the world and often it isn’t a simple one to answer. So why did I fast? Rather, what has come from it? I say that because why I started it (then) and why I finished it (now) are perhaps a bit different. Perhaps it’s like when one decides to go to burning man, you hear all these crazy stories about wild debauchery in the desert, or you see some images and you are like, wow, that’s really beautiful, stunning, and I really want, need to see that for real. The reasons you go for (the party, the stories, the sheer madness of it) and why you really went (the community, the environment, the people, ok and yeah, the sheer madness of it…) change, evolve through the act of the journey.
So you decide to go: you prepare by talking to those who have gone before, you read up on the subject and then you find a guide. In my case, that was fasting.com. No shit, it really was. Can I recommend the program? Of course I can! The fact that I went as long as I did should be proof positive that the experience is pretty functional. How was it functional? Well, you don’t fast for as long as I did without guidance, a sound and logical program (called scientific juice fasting) and a massive great deal of patience.
First of all, what I thought the experience was going to be and what it was like were very, very different. I had a fair amount of fear: of hunger, of pain, of failing and of fucking up. (I worked on a large portion of what was supposed to be my art show in Seattle during the fast.) The truth is none of my fears came to pass. Not even close to what I thought would come to be. My goals were about having an experience, losing weight, getting more in touch with my physical and spiritual being; I felt I was becoming tired, a bit on the numb and extremely dull side, I felt that I didn’t want to become a miserable old person. Prior to that I was doing deep stretching, and yoga and such, but when I got busy all those gains pretty much dwindled away. I felt like I was using food as a narcotic, my weight to hide from myself and others, and more so than anything else I wanted to see if I could do it, you know, pull it off, somewhat like a small internal abstract zone.
I succeeded in my goals and then some.
My fears unfounded, the daily experience was more mundane than otherwise. The best way to think about it is sort of like planting seeds: for a while things just seem normal and then they start to change, slowly and then they eventually accelerate to a new understanding. Thus, my experience still grows in its profundity; I am living in a different world now. Not always easier but is less burdened by my past abuses and abusers, more expansive, a bit clearer. During the discipline of the fast I truly experienced the one to one interaction of the intake of bodily as well as emotional, spiritual and intellectual fuel. I also feel now that I am in fact a somewhat happier person: I get less disturbed by when things don’t go my way, you learn trust that things happen because they are supposed to, not because you want them to. You experience that life isn’t a series of goals, milestones or acquisitions, but a process of education and evolution. These are the true gifts of the fast, and by something stronger that wanted me to learn this.
There were moments when I could literally experience my mind opening. I found myself in a profound meditation about hunger and deprivation: not just of the physical but also of the spiritual, psychological, intellectual dependence upon the world around us. it would be easy to conclude that we shouldn’t have dependence, but rather I came to understand that it is important to discover the pathways between need and desire: what we need and what we think we need are usually two very different things and when you discover the space between the two, you find a kind of freedom that comes from knowing that everything seems to happen because they are meant to. When you finally do such a meditation you find that you are healing yourself because you come to understand that trust is a form of solace, that patience is a balm, that physical health is a spiritual practice and ultimately things happen because they are meant to happen and the more you simply let them happen, the more open to, and aware of, and engaged with the world, you become.
Will I do it again?
What do you think?
Learning ‘how’ to fast, is one of the most profound tools that I have encountered to stretch myself as human being. I feel there was tremendous healing that occurred and tremendous exploration. I know the experience isn’t for everyone, but it was definitely for me.
And visit http://www.abstract-zone.com