The idea of fasting as a Spiritual Discipline intimidated me. First of all, I didn’t know what spiritual fasting really meant and I didn’t know what I was expecting from the experience. I did know that I was going to be hungry and hunger leads to crankiness (for me anyway). With encouragement and discussing the purpose of fasting, I decided that I would give it a try. Instead of setting a fasting time frame that may have felt unobtainable, I started my fast after lunch. I carried through the fasting until after lunch time the following day. As a beginner, it was a little easier with this process because it didn’t completely feel like a full day of not eating. For me, I had to get past the psychological part of thinking that I was going to be hungry from the start. If you have ever been told not to eat something, and then immediately crave what you can’t have, that is what I thought I would deal with. It turns out, that wasn’t completely true.
My initial thoughts of what I might expect changed. I really began to feel hungry the next morning when I have my usual morning snack. Perhaps it was the routine of not having the snack, but I genuinely felt hungry. I used the hunger pains to remind me just how fortunate I am to have food readily available and that at any point I could have eaten to stop the pains (such as the snack just sitting in my desk drawer). This thought led me to begin praying for those who are not as fortunate, and have hunger pains all the time. I prayed for the homeless. I prayed for those in countries that find nutrition a distant luxury, for whom three-meals-a-day is not a reality. My hunger pains throughout the day became further reminders to pray for my loved ones and to give thanks to God for all that I’m blessed with. I was able to turn what could have caused a lot of crankiness into an opportunity to reflect on what is good in my life. I did continue to hydrate throughout the process, and while there are fasting methods that eliminate all food and drink, that was not the right choice for me.
I became more aware that my senses were heightened. Since I wasn’t eating, I was able to join in conversation without looking down at a plate. I observed my surroundings without the distraction of focusing on food. I have no doubt that my sense of smell was on overdrive because everything around me smelled great. The experience allowed me to reflect on what exactly my body needs for nourishment. I wasn’t going to die from not eating a few meals. While I know nutrition is necessary, so is cleansing the soul. I used my time of fasting as a way to center God again, and not allow my typical day to be the center. With or without food the body still craves the goodness of God in order to feed the soul.
Will I fast again? At some point, I will. Some people commit to a regular weekly or monthly fast. For me, it’s not about committing to a particular day to do it, but whenever I need the reminder that God should be at the Center. I’m looking forward to these opportunities to rejuvenate my soul.