First of all, thank you for your comments, feedback and questions about fasting. I am also glad that some of you are inspired to fast, thus exploring your inner potential.
While there is NO ONE WAY to fast, I feel that fundamental knowledge of fasting is essential to derive maximum benefits. Each one of us must recognise that we are unique – different physical structures, mental make up. Therefore, it is practically impossible to find out a “formula” that will suit everybody, all the time.
In this short piece, I am going to write about my “formula” for fasting.
1. I fast on those days that the Hindu calendar calls as Ekadasi. This comes once every fortnight.
2. I prepare one day in advance; basically it is auto-suggesting to control my food. This is extremely important. What happens is that when you wake up and only then realise, you need to fast, then you tend to give it a skip! also, ensure that I eat my dinner the previous day.
3. I avoid all cooked food. No beverages either.
4. I take fruits, dry fruits and milk in limited quantity. My rule of thumb is to eat a fruit or dry fruit once every four hours. On a typical fasting day, I end up eating 3 /4 small bananas, 3 cashew nuts, 3/4 almonds, 10 dry grapes and two glasses of milk. I tried doing complete fast – no food, no water; no food, only water. These two combinations don’t work for me. I get irritable by evening time, and a severe headache. Hence abandoned this and started eating fruits, nuts, milk.
5. I drink lots of water the whole day. Usually, I end up drinking about 4 to 5 litres.
6. The whole day of fasting, I observe my body and my mind. This is very important for you to recognise how you are coping up, how today is different than other days. Initially, all my thoughts were only about food,but over a period, I figured that my body and mind are actually ok not to have food, or even think of food. This automatically calms down the mind.
7. On the day of fast, I spend 15-30min in silent meditation. Basically, I train my mind to be more observant during the day by following a simple meditation technique: observing the breath flow. This is like an exercise you would do daily to keep yourself fit and see you through the challenges of the day. I also keep doing “alternate nostril breathing” (anuloma viola pranayama) as much as I can. (Caution: don’t try this breathing technique without learning this properly first!)
8. I go to bed an hour early than my usual days, to wake up early the next day (dwadashi) of the fast. (only exception to point no. 10)
9. I eat a full meal (typical South Indian lunch) by 8am on the following day and eat fruits in the afternoon/ light snack followed by dinner, as usual. I don’t restrict myself on tea/ coffee either.
10. I go on with my day, as usual, doing my regular daily duties, as required.
That’s my formula.
I recognise that each of our mental, physical constitution is different and we need to find our own ‘correct’ formula for ourselves. This is a starting point and if you are serious about fasting and deriving benefits, start here, make adjustments and find your own formula.
The key point to note is to “make adjustments” to the formula. This can happen ONLY if you are observant. Therefore, my points 6,7 are highly important. True, you can bypass being observant, still derive health benefits. However, if you are keen on channeling your mind, bring in that focus and concentration that is required to achieve your goals, you need to train yourself to be observant.
Fasting is a fantastic way to observe your thoughts, train your mind to shfit itself from the melancholy of mindless chatter, bring in the focus into your day to day work.
Try fasting for 6 months (only 12 days out of 180 days that you need to forego food!).
I would love to hear your experiences.