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Fasting


MOW
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I wasn't sure where to put this, so I put it in the same section as the thread on meditation.

 

I was wondering if anyone here has ever tried fasting? Many years ago I tried a Ramadan like fast during Lent i.e. not eating any solid food until after sundown. I only lasted two days. I don't think I was mentally prepared.

 

My background is UMC and I know John Wesley practiced fasting.

 

 

MOW

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I've fasted for medical reasons, but not for spiritual ones.

 

After 3 days, hormonal changes kick in and really help with appetite and energy. The important things to remember are to stay hydrated (I certainly wouldn't do a water free fast) and to come off of the fast slowly (drinking juice, eating puried fruits and veggies for the first couple of days).

 

At this point in my life I don't think I'd do a food fast. I think I'd sacrifice a single something very important to me from my diet (like chocolate ;) ) or from my life (like TV or the car) for a period of time (more like Lent).

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I haven't really tried fasting either, nor have I known anyone well enough who practiced it regularly so that I could obtain a clear opinion on it from someone who had first-hand experience of its effects. I do know that it takes large amounts of self-discipline to achieve spiritual results.

 

However I have done some general reading on it and as mentioned above it modifies the body's chemical balances in significant enough ways to create brain activities that are not of the ordinary types. As I understand it, aside from the longing for visceral satisfaction, states of euphoria may be experienced, as well as profound sadness, and in some situations hallucinogenic effects. All of these would fall into the category of altering perceptions of the individual sufficiently so that they might be open to spiritual experiences not usually available to one with a satisfied belly and normal blood chemistry.

 

There is some cultural/historical evidence that celebrations such as Ramadan are group experiences that make an attempt to call-up sect memories of times when there was not suffficiency of food in the community; and, how this may have been somehow miraculously remedied by the deity as a direct or indirect result of the supplications of the community.

 

I believe this to be very old and of tribal origin. Remember that the hidden God is a God of the desert, and nowhere on earth is food or drink as scarce a commodity as in the deserts of the earth. Contrast this with the ancient group practices of tribes in agricultural regions.

They mainly concentrated their ceremonial supplications in this regard towards fertility and harvest rites.

 

My overall view is that denial of food/drink in a ritual practice is very, very old and is world-wide in its roots, going back much farther than the 10,000 years or so that agricultural related ceremonials have been practiced. Sharing of food and drink may well have been the original altruism practiced among strangers. There is further global evidence as to the sacred importance of food and drink in the spiritual sense when it is recognized that the inclusion of food and drink in many ancient burial rites were meant to assist the soul on its afterlife journey with the spirits to other places.

 

flow.... :rolleyes:

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I've fasted up to 4 days... very meaningful. As usual, in a way that defies language. I'd start with juice fasting. I often do this for a busy work day and decide whether or not to eat dinner when the time comes. When I did the 4 day fast (usually 36 hours is my max), I just decided to wait until I wanted to eat. I had 2 glasses of juice over the 4 days, when I had a headache and it went away and I felt fine. I don't notice any problem with returning to eating - iron stomach, I guess :P

 

I was amazed at my energy level (high), my mood (so calm that I may have attained detachment - in a good way), and my lack of negative physical symptoms.

 

The book The Fasting Path is excellent re: the different reasons to fast (physical vs spiritual) and decreasing anxiety about it. He goes "a little" :) far for me... talking about 40+ day fasts and being able only to lay on the couch.... BUT, lots of good info and thoughts.

 

I find it very helpful to pray something along the lines of, "let me be empty (of food) to be filled with You".

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I have fasted alot for physical cleansing and for spiritual reasons. It alters your consciousness so it is wise to be in a positive setting as one gets very sensitive and could pick up negative feelings, but at the same time one can go very deep in spiritual endeavors. The day is long because you don't have to prepare or eat food. It is very good to do before dropping a bad habit. Sometimes I crave a good fast. Plan it out so you don't binge comming out of it. Enjoy the experience it will bring you closer to God.

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Sort of - - -

 

Fasting never sounded very appealing to me. I LOVE to cook and bake. People stop by my house all the time because they know I always have something worth eating in the oven or on the stove. So, naturally, I personally enjoy food and drink quite a bit.

 

Recently however, for medical reasons I had to go on a very strict diet. I was limited to 800 calories per day. The goal of this diet was medical not spiritual.

However, I did find that the diet resulted in some personal spiritual benefits.

 

I came to really appreciate the finer points of food more. This helped me become a better cook - as my understaing of something like the multiple textures of a navy bean - exploded - because when you only eat 10 navy beans that day - you really study each one in a way that you would never understand if you weren't really focused on each single bean.

 

By eating less I focused more on details of food that I had never realized.

 

Spiritualy that helped me appreciate the providence of God - and the complex design that God has authored. It reminded me that God's viewpoint is often different than ours. I also found that after the first two days I was no longer hungry.

 

If you are curious - try it out. I think this is a very personal thing - for some people it will help - for others it won't. Check with your doctor first if you plan to fast.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all --

 

I'm in the middle of an 8-day cleansing fast at present, for both health and spiritual reasons. It's Day Three for me and I'm feeling pretty good.

 

I'm doing the Master Cleanse (aka "the lemonade diet"), and I think it's a healthy fast. For more info, check out:

 

http://www.therawfoodsite.com/mastercleanse.htm

 

Basically I'm wanting to approach nourishment with more of a sense of reverence -- by eating healthier food ( the cleanse prepares you for a healthier diet), by avoiding over-processed items, by consuming less in general, and by supporting organic farmers and producers. I'm also praying to face my various food addictions head-on -- and I seeing this as both a physical and a spiritual problem. So as I'm fasting I'm also going to start reading Gerald May's Addiction and Grace.

 

Peace,

Mary

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Food addictions? I'm guessing things like salt, sugar, or simple carbs, chocolate, etc.

I think none of these (well maybe chocolate, as it does have caffeine and some other "drugs" in it) is a true addiction. I think some people seem to want more of these than needed for life, and sometimes to excess. But I don't think they are medically considered to

be addictions or even dependencies. OTOH, we know people are eating way more than they need to. Some of the reasons seem to be more emotional and complex than just "I felt like eating it, so I did.)

 

 

--des

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I googled "define: addiction" (because I didn't know for sure what the definition was) and here are the first four definitions listed. :)

 

A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain.

teens.drugabuse.gov/utilities/glossary.asp

 

Strong emotional and /or psychological dependence on a substance such as alcohol or drugs that has progressed beyond voluntary control.

www.dphilpotlaw.com/html/glossary.html

 

Uncontrollable craving, seeking, and use of a substance such as a drug or alcohol.

www.stjude.org/glossary

 

A term referring to compulsive drug use, psychological dependence, and continuing use despite harm. Addiction is frequently and incorrectly equated with physical dependence and withdrawal. Physical dependence, not addiction, is an expected result of opioid use.

www.aarpsegundajuventud.org/english/health/2003-nov/glossary.htm

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Here's Gerald May's definition of addiction:

 

"Addiction exists wherever persons are internally compelled to give energy to things that are not their true desires. To define it directly, addiction is a state of compulsion, obsession, or preoccupation that enslaves a person's will and desire. Addiction sidetracks and eclipses the energy of our deepest, truest desire for love and goodness. We succumb because the energy of our desire becomes attached, nailed to specific behaviors, objects, or people. Attachment, then, is the process that enslaves desire and creates the state of addiction. . . .

 

Addiction is any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire."

 

On the other hand --

 

"Detachment is the word used in spiritual traditions to describe freedom of desire. Not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire. . . Detachment has come to be associated with coldness, austerity, and lack of passion. This is simply not true. An authentic spiritual understanding of detachment devalues neither desire nor the objects of desire. Instead, it 'aims at correcting one's own anxious grasping in order to free oneself for committed relationship to God.' According to Meister Eckhart, detachment 'enkindles the heart, awakens the spirit, stimulates our longings, and shows us where God is.' "

 

--From Addiction and Grace

 

Oh -- and Aletheia, nature girl :D -- thanks for the suggestions on the cleanse! I'm now on Day 7 and will have to start transitioning back to solid foods tomorrow because I have a social event involving food coming up on Nov. 20. But wow -- I'm fairly cleaned out now, and really looking forward to stuff like brown rice and vegetables!

 

Peace,

Mary

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Food addictions? I'm guessing things like salt, sugar, or simple carbs, chocolate, etc.  I think none of these (well maybe chocolate, as it does have caffeine and some other "drugs" in it) is a true addiction. I think some people seem to want more of these than needed for life, and sometimes to excess. But I don't think they are medically considered to be addictions or even dependencies.

If I understand the research correctly, even alcohol dependency is far more emotional and psychological than chemical -- like heroin, for example. But in any case I think addiction is more than merely chemical dependency. (I guess some would say it's still chemical dependency, because they would reduce emotions to serotonin imbalance anyway, but that's not where I was going with it.)

 

:)

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What I appreciated with all the definitions I found when googling "addiction" is that it's psychological, not physical.

 

I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder many years ago. My doctor tried and tried and tried to get me to take xanax. I refused.

 

About a year ago, when the vestibular migraines showed up again, my doctor prescribed xanax as a vestibular suppressant. I expressed my concern over getting addicted. He rolled his eyes and said basically "Don't confuse addiction with dependence. You don't have an addictive personality, so I'm not worried about that. And dependence isn't an issue if it is something that you NEED to be well."

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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My DH developed vertigo a few yrs ago... he had no luck with valium or antihistimines either. He finds that exercise helps the most. Especially things that require large movements ie running, tennis, yoga (Bikram is my new craze). The non-med therapy we found generally involved teaching your body what falling was and was not. Picture this for a good laugh - sit in the middle of the bed with your legs straight out in front of you. Fall sideways. Sit up, repeat to another direction. Hilarious to watch, I promise!!!!

 

Other things that make a Huge difference to him are: salt intake, getting a cold or sinus involvement, dehydration.

 

It's a bear Aletheia! Good luck finding the things that help you. Try Bikram Yoga though.... it sounds like a fad (I'm a yoga snob :>), but it's awesome!!!! Definately shuts down the monkey brain and gives you such a feeling of well-being (once you get a BIG drink and a shower!)

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Thanks OA. I don't take xanax for anxiety though. I take it for vestibular migraine. I've thought about klonipin however, because I've heard that is has helped some with vertigo where nothing else would. Valium is what is usually recommended, but it doesn't do squat.

 

 

oh, I misread. THought it was for anxiety. Klonopin was orginally formulated for seizure disorders.

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This is way way OT-- that is off topic, not Old Testament ;-) but I take klonopin for seizures, the other medication I take is Tegretol. However, I don't think it is ever used by itself for seizures though I may be wrong. Also all the anti-anxiety drugs in that family have anti-convulsive properties. They give Valium IV to people having multiple and nonstop seizures

(very dangerous condition if seizures are of the grand mal type).

 

--des

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