I’ve been doing regular fasting since a few years now. This means, no solid foods for a number of days, and in some instances, no liquids either. I have never done prolonged fasts, so in this article I will only be talking about short, few-day-fasts.
What are some physical benefits of fasting?
People who are not into naturopathy or detoxification usually think that I fast in order to lose weight, and since I’m already slim, they have hard time understanding why I would bother. I must have an eating disorder, the figure.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Fasting is a practice long-forgotten in the West, that has been used for thousands of years to restore balance within our bodies (e.g. treat illnesses). Our issue with food in modern day is not so much of not getting enough, but rather, getting too much of the wrong kind. Many of the standard foods we eat are either acid forming, mucus producing, clogging or downright toxic. This means that our bodies have to work very hard to neutralize the acids, to store and remove the toxins, and to dissolve mucus.
The problem is that the average person eats these types of foods at every meal, from morning to late evening. This leaves very little room for the body to catch up and return to homeostasis. High protein foods, animal products, grains and processed foods are very difficult to digest, which means that most of our energy, in fact up to 80%, goes towards digestion. Imagine if we could free even a portion of that to mental and physical activities, how much more we could create and live? On top of eating hard to digest foods, we tend to combine them with other foods that require a different kind of digestive environment, which adds burden on our digestive organs. Talk about acid reflux or bloating!
So we are eating way too much, way too often, the wrong kinds of foods, and in the wrong combinations. All of this results in congestion, acidity, dehydration and inflammation, all which lead to lowered vitality and premature aging.
The goal of fasting then, at a physical level, is to give our bodies a much cherished break, so that the digestive organs can rest and we can catch up with the elimination of mucus, acids and other toxins. Fasting is a rejuvenating practice that can restore malfunctioning and balance within the entire organism.
During fasting we liberate all of the energy that usually goes into digestion. The question then is, where do we want to direct this extra energy? Some people boost their creative powers during fasting, funneling their energy into different projects, art and work. The increase in mental clarity can be really significant, which makes it tempting to use this for creativity. However, directing our energy outward will take away energy from the precious elimination process. The more we are able to stay still, rest and go inward, the more of that excess energy will be used for eliminating toxins and cleansing the body. When we stop all external activity, our bodies will automatically go to work to return harmony within.
My Beautifully Uncomfortable Experience
I recently did a 4-day water fast. This is not a particularly long fast, but I gained a lot from it, I believe due to my dedication to go inwards and to rest. My initial intention was to film and to document each day of the fast, but I soon found myself resisting this effort, and instead, ended up going inward on a sacred journey to encounter myself, and to die a little ego death. I was also on my Moon during the fasting which made it a particularly visionary experience.
I allowed myself to let go of all physical pursuits and activities. As I found my body feeling weaker, I let go of any tasks or have tos, sinking deeper into my own beingness, into the stillness of my own dark core. On the second day I was having various insights and downloads pouring through me, which tempted me to act on them, yet I resisted the urge, and stayed with my visionary journey.
I was surprised, as you rarely hear of fasting accounts where people have had a deeply spiritual experience, even though that is exactly why it has been used in many spiritual practices in the quest for enlightenment.
Fasting really faces us with the quest to release, to let go, to die a little, and this is the ultimate gift we can have, if we are ready. Many people continue their lives as usual during fasting, or the very least distract themselves with all kinds of activities, but this in my opinion, is to miss out on a precious opportunity. We all hold attachments to all kinds of things, especially to food and different activities, and we struggle to be still in presence with ourselves. Fasting can be an amazing tool to explore and release our emotional attachments to foods, our addictions to social media, and our urges to distract ourselves with all sorts of busyness form ourselves.
To eat is one of the most primal functions, and we usually act on the impulse to eat rather unconsciously. Therefore, to not eat is a practice of free will that strengthens our ability to override programs within our psyche, and increases our ability to make conscious choices. All in all, fasting can bring us in touch with our inner authority, and the feeling that we direct our lives from a place of free will.
For me fasting is above all a spiritual practice to face my emotions, my cravings, addiction and distractions, to move past them so that I can have a direct relationship with my own divinity underneath it all. Without all the nonsense, I can feel myself as an eternal being, beyond the material world.
The Physical Symptoms
Besides the amazing benefits of insights and clarity, I also experienced a lot of physical discomfort. This is common, as when our bodies begin to release toxins, we experience all kinds of symptoms. I felt nauseated every day for hours on, and I also vomited liquids so intensely acidic that I’ve never felt so much burning in my throat.
I also did 36 hours of dry fasting as part of the 4 days, which means I stopped all consumption of liquids for this period. During this time I felt intense burning sensation while peeing, as when one has a urinary track infection. This really interfered with my sleep, as I had to get up every 15 minutes to go pee. This was a sign that my kidneys were filtering out acids, which gave the burning sensation on their way out.
As I learned from the highly skilled Naturopath who accompanied me and my 3 soul sisters on this journey, to have symptoms is a good thing. It means that we have enough vitality in our bodies to enter into the cleansing process and to purge out what needs to go. Many highly toxic individuals do not experience much during short fasts besides hunger, and this is because their bodies are not ready for such an intense physical process, and rather hold on to the toxins.
Besides the acids coming out (which I was very happy about despite the discomfort), I experienced a lot of weakness in my body and increased heart beat even when showering. Here are other common symptoms that the women participating in this fasting experienced: headaches, heart palpitations, sweating, hot and cold flashes, fogginess, irritability, emotional purge (anger, despair, grief), intense cravings for foods (usually unhealthy foods we haven’t eaten for years, sometimes from childhood), skin rash, low blood pressure.
For me, fasting is a sacred spiritual practice and a journey into myself. It is a purification and a cleanse for our physical vehicles that results in less obstructions in our energy flow and allows us to receive higher frequencies and to increase our vibration. Over time, fasting can connect us to deep wisdom and higher dimensions, and open up our channels for inspiration and great love to flow through. It all depends on our intention and how we use this wonderful tool and practice.
If you are apprehensive about doing a fast on your own, I highly recommend doing it with the support of an experienced naturopath or detox specialist. I had the pleasure of being guided by the wonderful wise woman Fanny Russaouen, who has vast knowledge and personal experience with herbs, lymphatic massage, fasting, raw food diet, bach flowers, essential oils and more. Her nurturing presence allowed me to relax into the experience fully, while feeling held and supported.
Contact Fanny though her website for online consultations or in person retreats and massages.
We had a women’s fasting ground and we dove into topics related to womanhood.