Just as meditation helps us clear our minds of thoughts, fasting is a way we empty our bodies of food and experience a new receptivity.
By Moris Beracha.- In our Western culture fasting is not usually readily accepted unless it is linked to a religious custom in which it becomes a periodic obligation. At the same time, in a world where human beings make an effort to eat better and consume the correct daily calories, stopping eating is not the most regular or recommended habit by specialists. In fact, there is a certain taboo when it comes to undertake it.
In fact, fasting has been practiced by many cultures and religions since ancient times. The reason for this practice varies depending on the ritual or goal pursued; however it is always seen as purification or cleansing.
But what is fasting for?
For centuries, the ascetics and mystics have defined the time of fasting since the first light of day appears and continues until the sunset. For these experts, fasting is the meditation of the body.
The way they explain it is very simple. They assert that just as meditation helps us clear our minds of thoughts, through fasting we empty our bodies of food and experience a new receptivity.
Generally, the human being consumes about 60% of energy during the digestive process. It is thus logical to think that in some way the body rests when a human being is fasting and it is not necessary to waste energy.
Spiritual teachers and yogis explain that when the body is empty it can experience in a much simpler way the process of its chakras and observe and feel the energy flows in meditative state and in this way it can reach deep levels of awareness and feel the mind entirely calm, present in the here and now.
Some studies have even shown that when fasting is undertaken from time to time and only by skipping breakfast the body is detoxified and re-established. They also specify that skipping a meal or practicing complete fasting makes people have a lot more energy.
Some time ago I read an interview with Reverend Heng Sure, asking him how fasting holds a very significant place in spiritual practice and he replied that certainly fasting in the monastic community is considered an ascetic practice called “Dhutanga”, which means to shake up or invigoration.
Dhutangas practitioners have a specific list of 13 practices, four of which pertain to food: eating once a day, eating at one sitting, reducing the amount you eat, and eating only the food that you receive at the first seven houses (a ritual related to almsgiving).
He said that these practices are adopted by individuals voluntarily, as they are not required in the normal course of a Buddhist monastic’s life of practice.
Sure added that the Buddha, as it is well known, emphasized moderation, the middle way that avoids extremes in all things.