”Spiritual fasting can produce a number of benefits for your body, mind, and soul. While the goal of a spiritual fast is usually focused on your faith, this doesn’t mean you won’t also experience other benefits. The practice of spiritual fasting involves your whole being. So it makes sense that as you bring your being back into balance, you will feel energized in other areas. - Healthy Hildegard
As we move deeper into our conversation about the benefits and experiences of fasting, it seems natural that the topic of fasting’s spiritual side would come up since every major world religion includes fasting as a key practice along with prayer and sacred texts. And yet, addressing fasting from a perspective other than physical, mental or emotional can feel a bit challenging.
At least it did for me.
On Monday, for the first time since I began this group almost six months ago, we talked about fasting not as a health or weight loss tool, but rather as a spiritual practice.
Normally, I’d steer clear of religion simply because I am not trained or qualified to lead a conversation on that subject and because, I know for many people, religion can trigger deeply personal, deeply emotional responses.
And yet, I’m always happy to talk about the big questions of the universe so when the topic was requested by two people, I felt a bit conflicted.
On the one-hand, I was psyched! The spiritual side of fasting fascinates me. I have been having my own experiences in this area and would love to hear what it has been like for other fasters.
On the other-hand, I was a little apprehensive that things might start to go sideways and as the group’s moderator, I might be in over my head. Like so many Americans, I am a little fuzzy on what to call my religion, but my beliefs are crystal clear: love, kindness, awe in nature are the cornerstones of my belief in the divine.
But, being a big believer that I need to practice choosing love over fear, we had the discussion. There were no fights. No one left crying. Everyone’s beliefs were respected. And, I’m so glad we did it. I learned so much!
Here are a few of my biggest takeaways:
1. Intention matters. People who were completing fasts for spiritual reasons were able to not only complete fasts way longer than they ever would have if they had been fasting for “themselves” and they found it far less challenging.
2. Prayer & Fasting – It can be a potent combination. We heard stories of grandmothers and family members who routinely pray and fast together – that this yields more powerful results than prayer alone. And, churchgoers who had life-changing visions while fasting for extended periods of time.
3. Feel it - Even for those of us who don’t regularly fast as part of a religious practice, so many of us described feeling more grounded, more connected to nature, more one-with all that is.
Here are two posts about spiritual fasting that I found:
I share all of this, because I’m curious to hear more. If you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to know about your experiences with fasting and spirituality. Do you feel the connection? What have you learned? What are your thoughts?