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BellaOnline's Spirituality Editor

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Spiritual Fasting

Guest Author - Linda J. Paul

What do Jesus, Buddha and Ghandi all have in common? Of course, they all share the honor of being among the most powerful spiritual leaders in their societies, and they are all remembered for their words of wisdom and guidance. But, there is another link between them. They all participated in spiritual fasting. Fasting is not a new thing by any means. Many societies of the past, as well as some in our modern day world have religious or spiritual rituals that include fasting.

So, why would denying yourself food for a few days or weeks be something that anyone would willingly choose to do? Yet, there are thousands of people in our world that take part in days or weeks of fasting due to their religious or spiritual beliefs.

But, what about those among us who do not adhere to any particular religious system that requires fasting as part of its doctrine? What would we gain by giving up food for a few days? Well, for starters, fasting clears the mind, cleanses the body, and refreshes the spirit. Good enough reasons for me.

In our world today food is a vitally important part of our rites and rituals. In fact, our lives revolve around the next meal. Whether we are eating in or out, those three meals a day are a focal point of our day. When a rite of passage occurs in our lives, such as a wedding or a funeral, food is always served right along with the congratulations or the expressions of sympathy.

Now, before you read on further, think about one day in your life that does not include a meal. No morning coffee and cereal, no sandwich for lunch break, and no dinner to be prepared or ordered. No soup, salad, or choices to be made about what to eat. And, no snacks while watching television. What would your day be like?

First of all, your routine would be completely broken. And, secondly, you might begin to realize how important food is to you on a personal level. You might discover that you are using food as a stress reducer or a quick energy fix. Or, you might discover that your need to maintain a slim, trim figure is harder work that you had realized. The stress attached to dieting can be just as detrimental as the stress of being overweight. In both cases food become an object to be controlled and manipulated.

. It is amazing how many hours a day we spend shopping for, putting away, preparing, cooking and cleaning up after the food in our lives. Suddenly, without food as a part of your daily routine, you are faced with finding something to do to fill the gap. For three or more days you won’t have any food dilemmas, other than how much water or juice you want to put into your cup or water bottle.

Fasting can be an extremely difficult thing for people who come from families whose life has always revolved around food. They have been taught from the time they were babies to eat those three balanced meals a day. And, they have also been taught to adhere to the rituals that go along with those three meals a day. Breaking old habits can be a wonderful release, but at the same time, unresolved anxieties concerning family traditions and beliefs may surface.

If you want to give fasting a try, the first thing that you should do is to check with your doctor if you have any health issues serious enough to require daily medications.

Make sure that you prepare a couple of weeks in advance by cutting back on your food intake and increasing your fluid intake. Gradually taper off to fruits and vegetables and eat a very light meal the night before beginning your fast.

Begin with a one day fast at first. Juice fasts are a better way to begin fasting than water fasts. Water fasts tend to release toxins from the body very quickly and headaches or body aches could occur.

Juices should be freshly blended if possible using a juicer. Sweetened or diet type juices should be avoided. If you have to use some type of sweetener use a drop or two of Stevia, available at health food stores, or a small amount of honey.

Pineapple or apple juice are both good choices to begin a fast. Lemons are also packed with vitamin C and lemonade is a natural thirst quencher. Make sure that you are drinking lots of purified water as well. Avoid chewing gum, tempting as the thought might be. Gum stimulates the salivary glands which alert your stomach that food is on the way.

Breaking a fast should also be done slowly by adding a few fruits and then vegetables back into the diet. Add grains and cereals next, and meats last.

If you continue the fast for more than one day, expect that as your body releases toxins, you may experience diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, nausea, body aches and pains, and anxiety. The good news is that after three days your body will have eliminated most, if not all of the toxins in the intestines. And, the hunger pains will subside.

The time spent fasting can be a wonderful time to pamper yourself. Indulge yourself with an Epsom salt bath, get a pedicure or manicure, read a mind stimulating book, do some gentle Tai Chi or Yoga exercises or curl up and take a long nap with a feline friend.

To read more about spiritual fasting, check out my ebook at:

http://www.bellaonline.com/ebooks/ebook140
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Content copyright © 2014 by Linda J. Paul. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Linda J. Paul. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debbie Grejdus for details.

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