I’ve experimented with a number of disciplines over the years to become a better version of myself. One of them that’s stayed with me to this day is fasting. American culture is all about consumption. We have this idea that the more we consume in food and material the happier we will be. Food-scarcity rather than food-abundance was the norm throughout human history. The human body is adapted to go long periods of time without food and drink. The ancients, even those who lived in food-rich cultures, knew how powerful fasting was when undertaken on a voluntary basis. Doctors like Hippocrates commonly prescribed fasting to treat a number of mental and physical conditions. I’m glad that approaches like intermittent fasting (where you do all your eating during a set time window each day) have gained popularity in recent years. More and more people in the modern world are realizing that fasting can be a powerful tool to change their lives.
I’ve fasted extensively over the years for a variety of reasons. One of the areas it’s helped me a lot in is my purity. Fasting develops toughness—which is the ability to go without. The impulse to eat and the impulse to have sex are related. Learning to control one can help control the other. Also, the daily pleasure of food can disconnect people from their emotions. In my experience, fasting strengthens willpower; helps process painful emotions at the root of unwanted thoughts and behaviors; and physically detoxes the entire organism.
There’s dry fasting (no food and water), water fasting (no food), and intermittent fasting (eating and drinking during a fixed window every day). The Bible also describes a “Daniel fast” based on a vegetable diet. I’m not going to tell you if you should fast or what kind of fast you should do. A good rule of thumb with any new activity is start small. For example, instead of beginning a 7-day water fast with no prior experience commit to skipping dinner instead and see what that experiences teaches you.
I can say a lot more about fasting. In fact, I already have. For further reading, check out An Hourly Log of My 3-Day Dry Fast (30 Insightful Journal Entries). My Powerful 3-Day Dry Fasts (14 Observations). Remember, you don’t need to go nearly that long or intense to get the benefits. I actually have no plans to do another 3-day dry fast in the near future. Fasting for me today is typically of the intermittent variety and I’ll occasionally mix in a fast of longer duration.
Have you ever fasted for spiritual, physical, or emotional gain? Drop your two cents down below, and do let me know any questions you might have.