Fasting conjures up many different impressions in our minds. Religious rituals, political protests, dietary management, and medical purposes are some of the varied reasons people might decide to fast. But in an obese nation of excess food, and not surprisingly, ubiquitous fast food, we don’t really fast well.
I am fasting as I write this, I’m barely a novice. It’s 3PM on a Friday afternoon. My last fast was over a year ago, and I’m well overdue. My last meal was 42 hours ago. A spinach salad, with roasted chicken, black beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, humus and guacamole instead of dressing. About 450 calories. Probably 500mg of sodium. Then a chocolate bar with almonds. Yep, a bit bizarre. I didn’t know it would be my last meal for 48 hours at the time. I decided it’s time the following morning.
Spinach is a superfood along with black beans and avocado. So it’s a nutritious way to go, I enjoy the flavor and the sense of spiritual connection, even though I struggle during times of high stress with eating junk. I am trying to phase out meat, very, very slowly. The OptEvo philosophy recognizes that as humans evolve we are figuring out how to be less destructive to higher ordered life and the planet, but my current comfort configuration is still transitioning from being a compulsive consumer of meat to a conscious driver of a benevolent balance.
Whatever age you are, fasting, the voluntary cessation of eating, deserves some focus as a culturally underexploited practice to counter many of our ills. And we are not talking here about intermittent fasting, but going 24, 36 or 48 hours or more without food through sheer will. A good majority of us, without diabetes, heart conditions, and other diseases that make fasting risky or inappropriate, can benefit in the following ways.
It starts in the spirit. If we appreciate food as life sustaining sustenance, and the immense pleasure it brings us, then we are re-calibrating to the reality of not having it when we fast. We are taking conscious control of our needs and wants, rather than allowing biology, physiological or psychological habit to dictate indulgence. We are elevating spirit over biology and putting purpose, discipline and strength of character at the fore. Fasting makes us more equal, at least for a bit of time, rather than never.
Into the philosophic realm we go. Anyone can indulge urges without skill. It’s low order of human energy. Fewer can abstain when they are feeling a strong urge. It’s higher order of human energy. The gain – if you can resist temptation to indulge your digestive system, is the application of the strength to regulate other systems in your body with higher consciousness. Nervous system, endocrine system, and reproductive system are the more obvious, but perhaps there is potential to influence even more. It’s exercise for mind over matter, thoughts over feelings, conscious over compulsive, and spirit over body. Most of us can relate to loving someone harmful to us … what if our minds were stronger in steering us out of, if not navigating better, one of the ultimate indulgences of our biology?
And we also get a shade closer to those many in the world who CAN’T eat for the day. What if this were not voluntary? Food is life itself, and in America, it abounds. We are a nation of portly poor legions and a smattering of rotund rich. Are we all spoiled at least to a degree? Operating in a rhythm of mindless repetition in which we consume more food and drink than we actually need?
Then we get into the math and science. We consume less when we fast. We impact the planet less, we kill less animals and plants, we use up less resources.
While we’re positively impacting the ecosystem, we are positively impacting our bodies. Fasting has been demonstrated to help regulate blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, fight inflammation, reduce tri-glycerides and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, improve brain function and slow neurodegenerative disorders, aid in weight loss, increase metabolism, increase Human Growth Hormone release, delay aging, and create an inhospitable environment for cancer growth.
Then there’s the art. Art connects science and spirituality, and creating a consciously driven life is creating a work of art. We are all living works of art in progress. Art is about intent. It’s high order carved from chaos and fabricated with the spirit, mind and body. The highest of art elevates wisdom and consciousness. If we envision an elevated culture, would the landscape be dominated by fast food franchises, or farmer’s markets?
The OptEvo philosophic system is about culling the good from religion, philosophy, science and art and putting it to use with human energy to make a better citizen body. Fasting plays a role in many religions and for good reason. It boosts our spiritual strength and perspective, philosophic reasoning, scientific consistency and fosters artistic expression at a higher level.
I should note for clarity that I did allow myself one black decaffeinated coffee each day and water to maintain hydration (and sanity). Other than that, I have taken in no food or beverages, zero calories. As I enter my 43rd hour, on what I believe is the longest fast of my life, I feel unusual, almost sleepy, but focused. There is only work, and some water. I will have a meal at 8PM tonight when the work is done.
We have a principle in the OptEvo System called “Iteration.” Iteration is the principle that asks – “What would the world be like, if everyone did likewise?” So if everyone did fast (after checking with their doctor) for 24-48 hours, would that be an improvement or degradation of the culture? If we consider the benefits in the multitude of arenas mentioned above, and the negative effects of over-eating, I think it’s pretty clear. When one fasts, occasionally, it seems to improve them as an individual. And as we improve as individuals, we improve as a culture, or as the body of us, the citizen body.