Shelly recently left a comment about fasting for clarity which really sparked my interest so I asked her to write a post about how she does it and why. I hope some of you find this helpful as well!
As a runner I frequently use my time alone on the road to quiet my mind and seek a level of clarity that my often hectic days do not allow me to find. Unfortunately even then I am sometimes unable to find the answers I am seeking. It is during times like this, when I have major decisions to make or feel an extra burden of stress that I fast.
There are many ways to fast. I typically do a water fast. Allowing myself to drink water only during the time that I am fasting. Others may choose to drink fruit juices or allow extremely limited solid foods. What ever you might choose educate yourself about what you are going to do and then stick to it.
When I begin a fast I do it for three days for several reasons. The biggest reason I choose to fast for three days is to allow my body and mind to get past the feeling that I am hungry. Which I have come to learn that the first feeling I have when I begin to fast is not hunger at all. It is a feeling most have come to think is hunger but is nothing more than a learned response to a society set schedule of calorie intake. Day one is over coming that response.
I go about my normal daily routine during this time. I don't plan long runs or extra workouts, but I do still run and work and tend to my family. During day one I try to find some time at the end of my day to be alone whether that is during my run or after the kids are in bed. I use that time to focus on the reason I am fasting. I think about the issue(s) that are weighing on me or the stressed I am trying to elevate and attempt to listen to hear more clearly for answers.
The first half of Day two is still fighting that learned "I've got to eat" feeling. It helps (when you are new to fasting, it gets to be a quicker process as you do it more and more) to be active. I don't limit my activity because I am fasting. I don't plan a 13 mile run either. I put my mind on others. Or focus on issues that I have been wanting clarity on in my life.
Day two second half. I may now actually feel hunger. This is the most difficult time. Drink. Focus. Listen. Mediate. Pray. Only fast if it is for any reason BUT losing weight. Fasting does not do that. But if you have entered into a fast for clarity, to be more in touch with yourself, to allow yourself to focus on issues at a (oh I don't like to use this word but) higher level then the hunger that you finally feel now should feel a little good.
This evening find more alone time to spend in thought, prayer or mediation over the issues that brought you to a fast. Whether you are simply looking for a little peace or the answers to questions that have been weighing on you. Take time before bed to be quiet and listen for answers.
Day three. I feel like I could now live without food. Hopefully it is not even on your mind during this day. The grumbling belly is gone. Clarity and focus remain. This is the day to spend in thought, prayer, meditation over whatever brought you to want to fast. This day should leave you feeling so amazingly in touch and powerful. Listen within yourself. It may not be your first fast that you achieve these feelings but it will happen. I don't profess to have found all the answers this way but I know that I have removed as many distractions as I can in a effort to find them.
Now actually doing it. It is hard to do with a family who will want to be eating yummy smelling food. But my friends, if your intention is to eliminate distractions and find more focus a simply fast may help you. But remember to respect what you are doing for your mind is going effect your body.
disclaimer: I am not a doctor or have an official medical training. This information is given solely based on my personal experiences and is not a substitute or medical advise.
Have you ever tried fasting? How did it make you feel?
Gratitude Journal a la Shelly
I am grateful for the beautiful, safe and peaceful community I live in.
I am grateful for mound and mounds of snow.
I am grateful for a body that allows me to challenge it.
I am grateful for children who love me even when I am not at my best.
I am grateful for my squeaky treadmill that eats my running shoes.