fasting : the CONTROVERSY

Updated: Apr 25

As with all of life; approach with intention to reap the gold


where did fasting even come from?

Fasting is a tradition woven in the fabric of human history, proffered a breath of new life in the 21st century and flipped into multiple paradigms of insight and perspective. Such a simple and neutral practice turned complex and almost inaccessible by the information age. Let us untangle each angle of fasting.


First to note; good and bad is an often chaotic concept, especially in health, and so this is not the question we will be starting with, rather; is it right for me right now? Lets explore…


the origins

The practice of fasting began in the earliest eons of humanity's journey, a tendril wedged in the yogic practices of the ancient east and later in the Hippocratic medicine practices of the west. Its roots are buried in religion and spirituality and from there the buds of its use in health and medicine begin to bloom. It is written in the literature of the ancient ways and in revered spiritual texts, you have heard it claimed to cure all of mans possible ailments: If only one would fast, all manner of ill would melt away and likewise, spiritual enlightenment or religious realizations would be reached.

In the contemporary world, woven deep in the information driven, logic culture that we find ourselves in, we want to know why this is so. We want to know with what reason does fasting 'cure all': and this is where the claims of healing might become less sweeping, more subjective.

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today : when NOT to fast

Today we also live in a world where man is subject (or has subject himself to) an incredibly vast array of illness and manifestations of disharmony.

Today it seems so that fasting would not benefit the state of everyone’s body, because we are not as fit and well as the human that evolved fasting as a panacea

,though this might change over the course of ones lifetime, for some examples: the extremely frail, malnourished and fragile members of society, those with weak livers or hearts, those with diabetes or those with eating disorders. It is undoubtedly true that for these people, and many more, the trial of fasting may be enough to break the camels back. There is discipline and boldly pushing beyond the minds comfort and then there is plainly ignoring the siren screams of a failing body.


Below are some insights into a survey I recently held diving into a few facets of a modern day fasting practice;

- 30% of people had a daily 14-18hr fasting practise

- 80% of the people who practised said they could tell the difference between when they were holding discipline and when they were holding fear-based control (i.e. punishing themselves)

- 100% of people who practised said they saw noticeable health benefits

- 70% of people said they practised regular 21+ hour fasts

Some reasons people gave for fasting included : cellular regeneration, discipline practise, heightened sensory awareness and clear and undistracted insight

Conversely, some reasons people gave against fasting included : the unknown side-effects on the balance of female hormones, eating disorders, weak organ systems and intuition.


It is undeniable and unavoidable that fasting has become subject to the opinions of near everyone interested in their health today, it is weaved in a constant lassoing web of the opinions above and made more complex by the science community offering their opinions supported by various studies and objected “facts.” I will not be covering specific “studies” here, I will not even be offering guidance, this topic is too personal, too complex, too fragile to dive into, for what I want to be a purely observatory and light piece…

PHYSICAL BODY

In respects to health, it is undeniable that fasting allows the body to breath, that it induces an inner autumn; cleansing, purging, regenerating, and restoring of the cellular level of our physical existence. The cellular regenerative effects of fasting are now undisputed, between shamans and between scientists, we know the body is innately all-healing and a master of equilibrium if given the space to commune with itself. If left empty and un-fed, it seems the body will clean itself and this right here, is the root of all health claims fired towards the practise. Space to rest will innately bring space to regenerate.

When it comes to contraindicated health conditions, it seems, as always, that only you can decide what works and what doesn’t for you. A decision might be best made prior to hours spent on PubMed researching what conclusion you should come to about your own state. Your doctors advice isn’t be all end all however, it must also be said that we live in a world where the doctors advice is the only advice a lot of people will receive: a cultural disconnection from self. Make sure you know yourself to ask yourself.


So, if you are ready to ask: ask yourself; do you need a break from information? Food is only information after all. Do you feel physically and mentally full? Food takes up space after all. Do you feel the pull to rest and regenerate? Absence of food [information + space-filler] will be an incredible facilitator to this desire.

A personal opinion: fasting is not the only way to achieve ultimate health- if that is the intent of undertaking a fast- simply perhaps the quickest. Ones body is far more capable than credited; it Is always working toward optimization, you can help it or hinder it but you can never stop it. Trust that your body can do its job regardless of your interference. Are you approaching the act of fasting from your mind [fear] or from your gut [intuitive guidance], your mind has the potential to use what is seemingly harmless health practises as punishment. Anyone with experience of an eating disorder will tell you how fasting nearly killed them. The mind can twist things; are you fasting for the attachment to emptiness? Are you fasting because it offers a sense of health micromanagement? Are you fasting because you don’t think you can heal otherwise?

Approach with intention. Approach slowly.


SPIRITUAL BODY

Discipline. Detachment. As a practise, separate from the realms of the physical body, fasting is the symbolic archetype of release. It deepens a blueprint of stillness and surrender into the fabric of your being, it is a potent practise in releasing the lower desires pertaining to food; pleasure, fulfilment from outside, stimulation, control, distraction. With abstinence from food and the subsequent discipline over the egoic mind comes a re-wiring of neural pathways, a new level of being and in this way fasting purifies the body as it does vocalize the soul. This is alchemy. “Insight without distraction” was the most agreed upon point in the survey in summing the practise as a spiritual discipline. Undoubtedly when the vessel is empty of interfering information, frequencies are received more openly, there is a reason the practise is so imbued within mythology, religion and magical folklore: take seriously the tales of our ancestors.

Personal opinion: I feel, at this exact point, I must interject with a question for those enthralled with the idea of catalysed awakening through the simplest act of fasting; whilst it is true fasting is a space for profound spiritual evolution, are you approaching this from discomfort? From fear? Did you read the above and think, Yes, I need this! Stemming from the belief that you exactly where you are is not good enough? If you choose to undertake the act of fasting, would it be from a position of acceptance of where you are and simple intuitive guidance to the next step, or would it be another illusory progressive task on your egos to-do list, one that would somehow make you feel “one step further”. There is no timeline here, I urge the reader to feel deeply into their decision.




Conclusion


Approach with intention, Crystalised and unmisted intention. Listen to the language of your body before the language of the doctor or the internet. Be clear of your motivations and desired outcomes. There is truly no one answer, in this contemporary world of information where we have strayed so far from our ancestors in mind and in body, to whether one should fast or not. It is undoubtedly beneficial, and it is undoubtedly baleful, as I suppose, is everything.

People often read these types of things in search of answers cut clear and clean as glass- definitive direction- there will be no apologies here for how unclear of a conclusion is left. I think it so interesting how the very act of deciding whether to undertake a fast can be an act that weighs equal to the exploration of one’s own consciousness as the prolonged period of fasting itselfthere is no definitive direction one can offer here, that wouldn’t dim the voice of the choosers own intuition.

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