Intelligent use of fasting is, by far, the most excellent practice for general health maintenance and disease prevention. Set up a regular schedule of short fasts for yourself. Short fasts can range from 16-24 hours per week, 36 hours every 2 weeks, or fast for a couple of days during a weekend once per month or every 2 months. I sometimes engage in a routine of a 3-5 day fast at the change of every season; i.e. 4x per year; each equinox or solstice.
Regularly giving your body ‘time off’ from all its usual duties is a perfect health maintenance practice. Your body can catch up on any internal housekeeping it needs to do. It can make closer inspection of the viability and functioning of all the different cells and tissues in your body, recycling old, worn-out cells and creating new ones to take their place.
You can catch up on sleep and rest, slow everything down and get bigger and better perspective on everything. Spend lots of time meditating and doing whatever spiritual practice you enjoy that more deeply connects you with your deepest Essence.
Make these short fasting vacations a ritual for yourself. Once you get in the groove of doing it regularly, you’ll love how much you enjoy it, and look forward to it.
On the serious side, if you have recovered or are in the recovery process from serious disease or addiction, then regular fasting is mandatory for you to be able to maintain your progress. Until fully disassembled and purged, old subconscious cravings, habits and patterns will keep trying to assert themselves over you, knocking you back. The cleansing, rebalancing and restorative effects of periodic fasting will greatly assist you in weakening and carefully disassembling these sneaky little monsters inside you.
No one wants to get sick and miserable. At least not consciously. However, the way sickness and disease is perceived and believed in every human society is based on faulty reasoning and understanding. So, we see faulty approaches to health and disease everywhere.
On the surface, the idea of ‘preventing disease’ seems correct. Prevent it so that it doesn’t happen. Deal with inevitable disease by doing everything you can to stay one step ahead of it. Every day you should be doing all the things necessary to avoid being ‘attacked’ by disease or avoid ‘catching’ a disease.
This appears reasonable, but a deeper understanding points to a better way.
You cannot cure a disease by taking a pill. The only way to cure a disease is to stop causing it. Live healthfully and your disease(s) will disappear.
Living healthfully causes health.
Living unhealthfully causes disease.
It is that simple.
Likewise, the notion that you must actively work to prevent all disease is incorrect. As long as you live healthfully, naturally and organically according to Natural Hygiene principles and practices, health comes to you automatically. Disease is prevented automatically. Your body takes care of it. No need to worry about it.
Mainstream media constantly touts the latest research and sanctified opinion that recommends taking this, eating that; doing this and not doing that in order to prevent various diseases. The advice never ends.
For example, there are the suggestions to drink coffee for headaches, red wine and aspirin for heart problems, and fish oil for lowering cholesterol. Then the warnings against coffee if you have kidney problems, caution against drinking wine due to liver problems, avoid aspirin if you’ve got stomach problems, and avoid fish because of mercury poisoning.
What are you going to do?
Let’s be straight and honest. Doing or ingesting that which will make a healthy person sick cannot magically flip around and make a sick person well. Aspirin, caffeine, alcohol and all the rest can not and do not make anyone healthy or prevent any diseases. None of these substances belong in a human body to begin with. If they do get in, the body must work hard to get rid of them as soon as possible… otherwise more disease will result. Toxic foreign chemicals that are not natural to the body, if ingested, breathed or injected, must be eliminated. Otherwise they cause damage. Your body does not want them. Your body does not need them. Your body must expend precious vital energy and available nutrients to detoxify and eliminate them.
On and on it goes. With each new cycle, a new fad begins about what can help you live longer, have better sexual prowess and more beautiful skin. It is conflicting, frustrating and impossible to keep up with the onslaught of recommendations to prevent all the maladies we fear. And of course, those beckoning you to try and buy their products are most happy to play on your fears in order to relieve your wallet and bank account of all the surplus money you’ve got.
If this is your approach to staying well, you will be forever reading the magazines and medical literature, checking for the latest findings. Then you will be frantically scurrying about trying to stock your fridge and pantry with the latest recommended foods, herbs, and supplements that will keep you disease free. And, periodically, you’ll have to throw out all the items from last year that the media has changed its mind about. What was a wonderful super food last year is now out of fashion, maybe even dangerous. Your obsession and anxiety about whether you are doing enough to prevent every disease creates a lot of stress on your body and mind, and this stress can set the stage for the very diseases you fear.
There is no need to live in fear of disease. Do what is normal and natural for the human health, know that you are on track, and all is well.
You may say that with fasting you are ‘preventing’ disease, but I say that by fasting you are simply doing that which is natural and health-maintaining. It is a change of perspective, like switching from looking into the wrong side of a telescope to looking into the correct side of it. The correct perspective is far bigger, better, more empowering, satisfying, accurate and in harmony with the larger picture of life.
Remember, fasting doesn’t prevent disease. Fasting ‘does’ nothing. You are simply ‘setting the stage’ for the Intelligent Life Force in the body to maximize its cleansing, healing and life-enhancing abilities.
It is the life force in the body that runs everything, maintains integrity, and keeps everything in miraculous, balanced order, thus automatically maintaining health.
You can learn and deeply understand that living intelligently and naturally will automatically prevent disease from occurring, and will rapidly recover health and maintain it if it is lost.
Go forth and live magnificently! Nature has made every provision for a healthy, wonderful life. Natural Hygiene is the study and practice of these natural laws. Apply this truthful wisdom to your life and discover the how wonderful life can become.
Fasting will greatly help heal most disease conditions, often permanently. In the vast majority of chronic disease cases where medication or surgery is recommended to deal with it, fasting and intelligent living will almost always result in extraordinary improvements. Avoid the toxicity of medication and the permanent injury of surgery with the wise use of fasting and Natural Hygiene.
It is in the fasting state that the body is given the opportunity to purify its tissues, to eliminate undesirable accumulations, deposits, growths, etc. It also allows the body an opportunity to let stressed and abused tissues heal.
Most cases of cardiovascular disease are wonderfully responsive to fasting care. Nearly all patients will achieve and maintain normal blood pressure during their fast. In most cases, if positive lifestyle improvements are made and maintained after the fast, no more use of medications is necessary. Angina, intermittent claudication and arrhythmia are examples of conditions that will respond rapidly to fasting. Often patients can achieve freedom from pain and medications within a few days or weeks. Cholesterol levels will rapidly drop and normalize.
From the Natural Hygiene point of view, cancer is a final-stage disease manifestation; in other words, if cancer is occurring, then the body has been in a deeply enervated and toxic condition for many years. The body has been poisoned for so long that the immune system simply cannot keep up any longer with the damage being done to it.
Cancer itself has been classified into various stages and phases – basically speaking, “early”, “moderate” or “late (severe)” stage. There are many other ways to describe the symptoms and progression of cancer. The bottom line is that things are quite serious. Radical, healthful measures must be taken immediately if one wants to survive.
Fasting is best utilized when cancer is in the early stage. At that time, the immune system may still have enough power to stop the disease and begin to reverse the effects, if one is willing to completely change all lifestyle and thinking habits into more healthful ones. Serious, firm decisions must be made to learn what true health is all about, and to immediately dump all unhealthful practices from your life. Anything less is suicide.
Fasting in moderate and late stage cancer is usually not beneficial, though in some specific cases it may help alleviate pain. Best to not get oneself into this predicament to begin with.
Esophageal reflux, gastritis, peptic ulcer, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome all respond especially well with fasting, as one might expect with the cessation of food. No food to digest means no work for the digestive tract and all associated organs. This allows the body to devote all its energy to repair and rejuvenation of the structures and processes of digestion.
Sane, hygienic eating and lifestyle practices after the fast will insure continued healing and ultimate recovery of good digestive functioning.
Type II diabetics often respond beautifully to proper fasting and a careful diet afterwards. Diabetes is very debilitating for many people, with lifelong monitoring and medications required. Even with the use of such therapies, eyesight, circulation and all organs and tissues continue to suffer the consequences of impaired functioning. As with all therapies, nothing is fundamentally corrected; symptoms are merely managed or suppressed.
With fasting, diabetics can look forward to regaining and maintaining normal glucose levels and a medication-free lifestyle. Adherence to an intelligent diet and healthy lifestyle will keep hormonal balances intact and optimize pancreatic functioning and cellular glucose metabolism. Digestion improves and blood chemistry maintains normalcy.
Type I diabetics generally should not water fast.
Severe migraine headaches can be extremely debilitating. Fasting will help to get at the root cause of most migraines: chronic toxicity. Every migraine case I have worked with has responded beautifully with fasting, experiencing long-lasting relief. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle after the fast will maintain a migraine-free life.
All “itis’s” (arthritis, bronchitis, lupus, gingivitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, bursitis, gastritis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, colitis and all the rest) have, as their root cause, chronic, irritating toxicity. These are all chronic inflammatory diseases, meaning that the disease is always there… only the symptoms seem to come and go. As long as one continues indulging in a lifestyle that results in far too much garbage going into the system, in addition to constant emotional stress and tension, one will have to bear the consequences of chronic pain and suffering. If we stop putting junk into the body, it will quickly clean things up and recover from the ‘itis it is suffering from.
Fasting, of course, will greatly speed up the process of detoxification and help the body on its way to full recovery. All ‘itis’s are quickly overcome by living intelligently.
An allergy is a sign of a hypersensitive immune system. Why would an immune system become hypersensitive? Because it is being challenged, taxed and overburdened constantly… and eventually something’s going to buckle. Certain substances will cause a hyper-aggravated response, and the resulting inflammation will cause much suffering. Symptoms can range from mild skin rashes all the way to full-blown, life-threatening anaphalactic shock and respiratory emergency.
The answer? Give the immune system a break! Fasting will provide the perfect conditions for the immune system to rest, rebalance itself and rejuvenate itself. Time off from the constant daily overload of having to remove far too much toxicity in the bloodstream and organs gives the immune cells a well-deserved rest. Blood chemistries will move toward normal; marginal, worn-out immune cells will be autolyzed and new, fresh ones created. The previous hypersensitivity will greatly lessen as the overly-sensitized cells are cast off. Intelligent living after the fast will keep the demands on the immune system within reasonable limits, allowing it to regain normal sensitivity and healthy functioning.
Asthmatics are very pleasantly surprised to experience deep, full, unrestricted breathing after just a few days of fasting. Again, it is simply a matter of ceasing the input of injurious substances into the body long enough for it to cleanse and repair itself. Continued fasting allows the body to “dig deeper” into lung tissues to remove injured cells and replace them with healthy ones. The trachea, bronchioles and alveolar structures are quickly repaired and optimized. Because breathing is such an immediate and vital function for life, the body works very quickly to repair its respiratory system.
Relaxed, deep breathing allows the deeper emotional roots of chronic disease, including asthma, to come into awareness and expression. All chronic diseases have multiple layers, multiple dimensions of causative factors – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. As better physical functioning begins to return with fasting, these more subtle dimensions of disease appear to our awareness, providing insight and understanding of the source of our discomfort. Processing and release of very old bound-up emotions can occur rapidly, freeing up even more vital energy for healing and rebalancing.
Once again, we deal with problems that are directly caused by a self-destructive lifestyle. Toxic foods constantly ingested, enervation of vital functioning due to overuse of sexual energy, sexual conflicts causing shame, guilt, fear, and repression of normal sexual desires all play their part in diseases of the reproductive organs. Indeed, enervation, fear, and suppression play a primary causative role in all disease.
Fasting, healing emotional conflicts, and sensible living will put you on the path of permanent healing in all cases.
All musculoskeletal problems respond favorably to fasting, healthy diet, wise use of movement rehabilitation techniques and hygienic living. Chronic degenerative tension habits and faulty movement habits develop due to fear, trauma, chronic repetitive stress injuries. If left unattended, these tension patterns develop into regular postural and movement ‘habits’, quickly becoming unconscious. Once unconsciously held, you don’t even realize the tension you are carrying around with you every day. This tension will cause inordinate stress on certain muscles, joints and other structures. Chronic pain results.
Fasting and wise use of body awareness and movement techniques, such as the Hanna Somatics method will rapidly help you regain optimal use of your body and its abilities. Pain syndromes will vanish, and a profound ease and lightness will spring forth inside your body. Use the fast to begin this process of rehabilitation, whether due to traumatic injury or old degenerative disease, and go from there. This is the most thorough and rapid route to healing.
Not everyone is a candidate for fasting. There are a number of factors to consider before a fast is recommended. If there is doubt, do your research and ask a professional. Then you can make the best choices to help you reach your goal.
Although most people can fast, there are a few who, because of special conditions, should not.
* People who are extremely emaciated or in a state of starvation
* Those who are anorexic or bulimic
* Pregnant, diabetic women
* Nursing mothers
* Those who have severe anemia
* Those with an extreme fear of fasting
* Those with certain rare, genetic metabolic defects (porphyria, and a specific fatty acid deficiency which prevents the normal initiation of ketosis)
Many clinical studies have examined the use of fasting for the treatment of numerous disease conditions, far too many to list here. You may be interested to research online to find out about them.
All senses of the body improve with fasting. In fact, sensory improvement can be quite dramatic in many cases.
The eyes may go through varying periods of vision changes. Most of the time you will not notice much difference, but there may be phases when your vision gets sharper or blurs. You may notice floaters (small specks) increasing in number in your visual field. Then they will decrease greatly. Your eyes may get very tired and heavy from time to time, and you may experience some detoxification through the tear ducts.
Often fasters remark of improved color vision, better focusing abilities and overall sharper vision. The whites of the eyes get clearer and the iris may improve its coloration and patterning. Astigmatisms often decrease. Diseases of the eyes often respond quickly and favorably as the metabolism of the eye structures is quite rapid.
Like the eyes, the ears may go through varying temporary changes during the fast. Hearing may become hyperacute, then become dull for brief periods. The background ‘hum’ of the inner ear that is heard in quiet surroundings may increase and then decrease. Overall hearing becomes more acute, sensitive and discriminating.
During your fast you will likely experience all sorts of taste sensations, good and bad. Your tongue will become quite coated as detoxification proceeds. Various sensations will come and go – metallic tastes, chemical tastes, pungent tastes, sour tastes. Many fasters describe tastes in their water which are not in the water at all! It is all a part of the detox process as reflected in the oral mucosa.
After the fast you will experience a wonderful, highly improved sense of taste. When you finally get to the end of your fast and it is time to enjoy your first delicious taste of fruit, you will be amazed! You will find that all food tastes far more flavorful and rich than previously. You will notice many subtle flavors, textures and sensations that you never noticed before. Food becomes a marvelous, even sacred experience!
The sense of smell is a very primal, instinctual ability. It has many direct neural connections with our primitive brain areas, and immediately triggers very strong memories, reactions and desires. Like all the senses, smell sensitivity will vary during the fast, ultimately improving significantly. Many who claim little or no smell ability pre-fast will be amazed at how much it has improved. Along with smell, you will notice how very much improved is the sense of taste, as they are so intimately tied together.
During the fast you may notice many smells, subtle and strong, pleasant and offensive, especially your own! As you detox, all sorts of smells emanate from your body – chemicals you may have ingested, old medications, foods and spices, cosmetics and cleansers, and many more. It all makes its way out, and this is nature’s way to rid the vital domain of garbage.
Touch becomes very sensitive, sometimes hypersensitive and even painful. As toxins are released from the nervous system, individual sensory neurons may become irritated and extra-sensitized. These episodes will usually quickly pass.
Also you may experience the re-activation of hypersensitivity and pain at old injury sites in your body. All sorts of old injuries may be addressed by the body for deeper and more thorough healing. Strange sensations and pains you haven’t felt in years may arise and the area gets warm as this deeper healing occurs.
Overall touch sensitivity increases and becomes more discriminating, along with pressure and temperature sensitivity. The pleasure of touching and being touched increases significantly.
Your kinesthetic awareness (the internal sense of body location and movement in space) also improves, oftentimes considerably. The sense of balance, steadiness, precision and smoothness of movement results in a far more explicit feeling of flowing movement and relaxed ease within your own body. Coordination improves and the ability to deeply relax is restored. You will enjoy your body more than you have in years.
According to Dr. Herbert Shelton, who supervised fasts for more than 40,000 people over a period of fifty years, “the freer the body is of toxic materials flowing through the blood and lymphatic system, the clearer is the ability to think.”
Large amounts of blood and nervous system energies have to be sent to the digestive organs in order to digest a meal. Indeed, up to 70% of your daily energy output may go to digestive processes. Freeing up this digestive burden, while simultaneously purifying the bloodstream results in better oxygenation and far less irritation to all structures of the body.
The increase in mental acuity doesn’t usually happen until after the first few days of a fast. The body is busy cleaning out the more superficial toxins, so you may experience a period of mild lethargy, with headaches and various pains as the fasting process commences. This first stage of fasting can be somewhat difficult, but after the body has thrown off it’s superficial load of toxins, then the brain is fed by a cleaner bloodstream, and the mental powers and clarity of thought are extraordinarily increased. All other senses become more acute as well.
Your mind becomes clearer, your ability to think and solve intricate problems is enhanced, and even your IQ may rise. You are more alert, steady, balanced, focused and relaxed. Spontaneous insights and realizations may occur. Issues concerning your path and choices in life stand out more boldly. It can be far easier to be ‘dispassionately objective’ about the events in your life and why they have happened. Things begin to make more sense.
Often there can be a feeling of euphoria, especially during longer fasts. Some, for the first time, will experience emotional stability and serenity. The reasons for this are manifold – the elimination of the emotional dependence on food, exclusion of stimulating foods like caffeine, processed sugars, recreational drugs, tobacco and trans-fatty acids, all of which can have a negative effect on delicate emotions and overall brain functioning.
Those who have diminished mental abilities – memory loss, fragmented thinking, decrease in ability to concentrate, decrease in attention span – these can all improve, sometimes dramatically, with fasting. And they can continue to improve as long as you maintain an ongoing healthy lifestyle after your fast.
“I often observe in fasting participants that concentration improves, creative thinking expands, depression lifts, insomnia ceases, anxieties fade, minds become more tranquil, and the natural joy of living begins to reappear.” Gabriel Cousens, MD
Many people understand that fasting helps the body cleanse and heal itself very rapidly. Fasting also helps to detoxify and heal at deep mental and emotional levels.
A fast helps us ‘get out of our own way’. Great leaps forward are made during a fast as the protective layer of ego thins, allowing you to feel and release old emotions and gain deeper insight into yourself.
Fasting can help you become conscious of old conditioned mental and emotional programs – ways you see yourself, others, and life; attitudes, fears, defenses; “shoulds” about how we are supposed to be and how to live; regrets about the past and anxieties about the future that keep you stuck and unaware of the beauty of this very moment.
Many people become very rigid with their armor of conditioning – conscious and unconscious beliefs, attitudes, thought patterns – and wonder they are so unhappy. Fasting helps you see this armor in yourself as it creates a distance between your simple, natural self and your life as moulded by the rules of society. During a fast, you can see these things with great clarity, allowing you to deeply contemplate whether you want to keep living your life in the same old ways.
Fasting can facilitate the release of unresolved emotional pain from yesterday to long ago. These old wounds can dissolve and melt away, if you are willing to surrender them. It need not take years to heal. Fasting softens the ego and its defenses, enabling emotions to well up to be felt and examined.
Peace is the natural state deep within you – it has been there inside you all along. Fasting can help it begin to emerge and then it is your job to live well, so it can become your abiding state of awareness.
Most people understand the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle on the body, but few really understand and take responsibility for the impact of poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyle on the psyche. Junk food, coffee, and alcohol do not mix with a goal of peace, serenity, focus, creativity and deep insight. They create the opposite effects, both mentally and emotionally.
People often seek solace with food in today’s stressful society, but their choices of “comfort food” only serve to perpetuate their emotional pain. The nervous system requires proper nutrition to function well.
Chronic negative thoughts and feelings also create congestion and toxins in the body that further impede its ability to function well. For example, digestive problems are often caused by stress and anxiety.
Wisdom from ancient traditions strongly advocates fasting as the supreme way to heal illness, purify oneself, and grow spiritually.
During a fast, your body and mind progressively rest, relax and unwind from daily stresses and built-up tensions. Your deeper spiritual dimension can come to the forefront of awareness. As a fast continues, a profound sense of peacefulness and serenity wells up…it feels like a constant meditation is taking place within you. The sense of surrender that happens during a fast can heighten your personal spiritual connection.
During a fast, you see yourself and your life with a detached objectivity. You gain clarity about how your thoughts and beliefs may be contributing to disease. You see what lifestyle practices need to change for improved health and prevention of illness. Fasting helps you to have a far greater perspective from which to closely examine your life – how you are living, where you are going, and why.
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom throughout history. It is mentioned and encouraged in the Vedas, Bible, and the Qur’an, among others.
Fasting is an excellent spiritual discipline designed to steer our minds away from the material distractions of everyday life so we can focus our energies toward our subtle inner being. Fasting deeply rests and rejuvenates the overworked body and calms the monkey mind. It suspends our daily routine. Relaxed awareness prevails. Inner clarity improves. Perspective expands and priorities realign.
Sivananda encouraged fasting for physical, mental and spiritual purification. He says: “Just as impure gold is rendered pure by melting it in the crucible again and again, so also this impure mind is rendered purer by fasting.”
The difference between spiritual fasting and regular fasting is the conscious intent to expand awareness on every level of being – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies.
Paul Bragg, natural health pioneer, had tremendous faith in the power of fasting. “The greatest discovery by modern man (woman) is the power to rejuvenate physically, mentally, and spiritually with rational fasting.”
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Fasting will bring spiritual rebirth…the light of the world will illuminate you when you fast and purify yourself.
Continue to the next section: How To Fast