No. I'm not blogging about the never-ending "cars and babes"-sequels. I'm talking about, you know, abstaining from food for physical or spiritual purposes.
This month I fasted in different forms for two weeks altogether.
My mother used to do a juice fast every year either around Easter, or in the fall, when I was growing up and in my teens I did it with her a few times. We drank carrot juice and those gross bottled Biotta juices. In my teens and twenties I fasted a few times, mostly with juice.
I found that it's a really good way to jump-start feeling better. Simply put, I don't know about it's cleansing properties, but it's a really good way to shed sugar, white flour, bad eating habits in general.
But even more importantly, fasting is a way to recalibrate your body, to figure out what is going on with it and where its at, without the highs and lows of food consumption, alcohol, caffeine...
I haven't fasted in about ten years and after all the illness in the past year and a half, I feel like I need to feel out my body a little. To listen to what it needs. I eat pretty darn healthy, but still, I feel like all that food drowns out how you actually feel and much you need to eat and what and when.
So when the 10-day fast came up in the Apothecary Circle, I jumped on it, first seven days of trying to (and often failing) be more mindful of the Noble Eightfold Path with three days of food fasting tacked to the end.
I started by kicking meat, eggs, sugar and wheat (I don't really eat wheat anyway.) and eventually and after much backsliding due to unexpected fun times, alcohol. This took about seven days. By the time the full juice-only fast came around, I already felt pretty good, eating lightly and having juice for one meal a day.
My but my body has changed in ten years. The first days of a fast are always the hardest, but this time the second day was almost unbearable. Day one always goes pretty easy because of the novelty, but previously I remember the second and third day as being pretty calm and focused. Not so much this time.
Probably this was because ten years ago, I was more addicted to caffeine and sugar and their absence brought not only calm, but borderline euphoria to my restless 24-year-old body. (Coffee is not my friend and never was.) The only way I could tolerate the constant thoughts of food was to stay busy. I don't remember when I last accomplished as much. I was also extremely grumpy.
By the third day I was adjusted and could have kept going. I didn't eat until the afternoon of the fourth day and by then that strange joy of not worrying about food had kicked in and I was really reluctant to start eating again.
Fasting can be a transcendental experience. No matter what you fast from, you tend to discover a lot of your weaknesses before you find your strengths. Turns out, that I have real problems staying with Right Speech, meaning that I gossip, blabber and tell white lies way more than I even realize. In addition to this I seriously lack both mindfulness and concentration, much as I try. This was made, harder, not easier by focusing on my practice more intensely.
Trying to increase the amount of time I spent studying texts and meditating, actually led me to being more frustrated by how hard it continues to be, not less. After years of practice, my meditation experience is still often heart-brakingly arduous, but no matter, I've heard it over and over from people who I've looked to for spiritual guidance that they have the same experience. At least I'm not alone.
Maintaining the Right View, meaning one's perspective, or outlook proved easier. During the fast I felt more of a sense of purpose, even as I was failing.
I felt good about the fact that I was able to accept my failures and move past them and keep trying, rather than beating myself up about it.
Now that the actual fast is over, I feel way more motivated than before to try to adhere to these principles, to meditate and to study.
As for the food fast, I learned that my body, though still affected by the long assault of living in a mold-infested house, is making a wonderful comeback. For the first time in what seems like years, I feel like I'm really in my body. I can't exactly explain it, but I feel more aware, flexible, alert, strong, in conrol than in a long while.
Current favorite garb: Sweater-thrifted, dress-gift from Sara, boots-local consignment, scarf-girft from Nicole, necklace-made by me
In fact, post food-fast, my energy levels have been pretty awesome. Maybe it's just the ever-increasing amount of light and the fresh nettles in my tea, but I feel really good. Something I hope never to take for granted again.
I did also gain some important tools from the food fast. Apparently, I'm also way more of an emotional and habitual eater, than I realized, and turns out, when it comes to alcohol, an emotional and habitual drinker. (Fret not though, dear reader. My "drinking problem" consists of less than four drinks a week. Just something to be aware of.)
All in all, my fast was pretty worth it, a very good way to start spring. It's sweater weather, by goodness. I don't even know what to do with that.
Do you fast? Have you ever tried it? Did it make you want to kill your egg-frying husband?
Oh and is anyone interested in discussing meditation?
And is it spring where you are yet?