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The best way to comprehend what fasting actually is in principle and also what fasting is not is through analogy. An analogy will clarify what voluminous writing might not. Every schooling tradition has used analogies to teach concepts and even the Bible uses analogy in the form of parables and metaphor towards the same purpose describing sometimes complex spiritual concepts. This is pertinent because fasting fundamentally, is more a spiritual practice that also happens to help the physical body.
Everyone knows what water is and recognizes the difference and infinite usefulness of clean, clear water and the near uselessness of dirty water. A natural water source flowing in the open air and sunshine will naturally and perpetually keep itself clean and clear for as long as nothing detrimental is added to it. If something is added to it that was not there before the water will lose its clarity and often also ability to sustain life. Compare this to the life fluids within any living thing and what would happen to them if their fluids would thicken from being forced to carry within them what they were not created to be carrying.
When water is clear and and clean, like any other fluid, it will flow easily. When it is filled with pollutants it becomes "thicker" and because it is carrying more than just itself will have a more burdened flow. Sometimes a river bed may need to be dredged because of the deposited silts and pollutants that the water had been carrying. But, in general, if the pollutants are no longer being dumped into the water, it will, in time, clean itself. This is a good analogy to describe the effects of fasting within the organism of the human body.
There are two main reasons for fasting. A) One is entirely physical and B) the other is non-physical.
The physical benefits of fasting are based on the concept that the physical body, in essence, only does two basic things to build and preserve itself. It is either feeding itself through digestion or, cleansing itself through elimination. This occurs down to the cellular level and the body can only be doing one or the other but not both with any efficiency at the same time.
The spiritual benefits are based on the same concept as the physical but requires a little more explanation and an introduction to other finer concepts. First of all, it has been a traditional belief in all cultures that all things that exist have their existence from something higher and from that source receive their consciousness out of which come their specific properties. The modern view seems to reject this, believing matter to be an end product without life that is organized into living organism through processes not yet specified. Based on the former premise however, what ever we eat, in order to be life giving and sustaining must itself have life in a form that is edible. When over indulged in this "extra" life substance can accumulate within the body and in some cases can create a craving for itself and the things of it's nature to the point that it can distract or even override reason and will power.
By willfully asserting one's own Will power by abstaining from what ever a person does not find desirable or from what is excessive, a person reasserts their dominion over their own person and being. The body is made to obey the mind and what has given rise to cravings or cloudiness of thought is removed. That said, to fast is not necessarily limited to food. It can extend to behavior.
It should be understood that fasting is not a matter of obsession as is the case with anorexia. When a person decides to fast, it is a conscious decision that is to last for a predetermined period of time or possibly until a specific purpose has been achieved. In any case this process requires discipline and the benefits have been recorded both in improvement of general physical health and with it also mental clarity and emotional calm. Some, in addition to this have also had spiritual experiences. These not being the result of delusional hallucinations from lack of food but from a sort of transcendence as a result of it.
Here is a case in point of a person who consciously realized that they were not well and in deciding to fast recorded his experience and the impact it had on others. You can read the book, get the DVD or Click here to view! The benefits are obvious and need not be overstated.
The benefits of fasting come from simplification of diet. In principle, just as all problems are the result of over complication, their resolution is to be found in simplification. The conclusion being that - Simple works!
Replacing over processed foods with good quality foods is already a fast or sorts. But, to take that idea even further, by giving the body a much needed rest by feeding it better quality fruits and vegetables that have been juiced to make the micro-nutrients more easily available has great and almost immediate benefits.
The body has to feed itself by taking whatever food we give it and converting it into a liquid to be used in circulation means that the body, in effect, juices all we feed it and absorbs minerals in the intestinal tract from the left over solids before they are disposed of. By juicing fresh organic fruits and vegetables there is less work for the body to do giving it more energy for the processes of elimination. Not that a person should subsist of fasting indefinitely but, there are enough recorded benefits from fasting that it should not be ignored as a viable, simple and inexpensive therapy for well being - under proper supervision of course.
Gradually, by not filling the body with solids that because of their nature are difficult for the body to digest the body eliminates it's waste leaving its circulating fluids cleaner and freer flowing within their vessels, preventing them from depositing their wastes onto the vessels and within the bodily tissues. The resulting benefits are obvious and undeniable.
There is nothing new in any of this. Fasting has been a therapy for thousand of years and as of late such notables as Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Dean Ornish are simply affirming and restating what health pioneers like Bernard Jensen and Paul and Patricia Bragg had stated in the last century and all the other unknown healers for the past few thousand years have already established and asserted.
Spiritually and psychologically fasting results in the triumph of the Will over psychological tendencies, inclinations and temptations. Most will understand that to abstain from habitually consuming and over consuming certain types of foods and chemicals that do not digest well will end up thickening and clogging the blood and lymphatic fluids resulting in disease.
Every religious tradition has fasting as part of its teaching. Catholics would fast during the time of lent; starting from Mardi Gras - Ash Wednesday until Easter. Muslims and Jews also have traditional fasting as part of religious rite. Even though religion has been given a back seat in our times - to condemn fasting would be as much as to condemn and diminish all religions. People who fast all claim a sort of mental clarity and acuity as well as a greater spiritual experience through the preservation of their own vital energies.
There is an awareness that is not quantifiable scientifically but has to be experienced in order to be understood. Meditation is form of fasting that by deliberately going inward to focus on our mind we abstain temporarily abstain from the world around us to rally our inner awareness. In acknowledgement and in the preservation of our own inner energies, in some spiritual retreats people abstain from all manner of speaking for an entire weekend or even weeks on end. The purpose is to make the individual focus inwardly with greater penetration by preserving their vital energies that would have otherwise been dispersed through unnecessary idle talk. These deliberate and willful practices are examples of fasting for the sake of spiritual benefit and personal growth.
Before discussing the health benefits of fasting further it is best to first clarify a few basics points. First of all, fasting has nothing to do with starvation or the modern, historically unprecedented obsession that is anorexia.
To someone who is a heavy meat eater, a fast might simply consist of refraining from red meat and replacing it with fish or chicken and more fresh fruit and vegetables than they might be accustomed to. For a fast food junkie, it could mean simply eating better food. For someone obsessed with television, a fast might consist of limiting the time they view television down from 4 hours a day down to 1 or 2 hours or even no television at all. A person who is perpetually subject to their own anger might fast emotionally by not allowing themselves to indulge in their anger. A lazy person might fast by deliberately making themselves more productive. A person who is perpetually late could fast by making it a point of being on time. An addict to alcohol, drugs and the like might muster their inner strength to leave their addiction behind.
As is evident the ultimate purpose of fasting is to make the physical body subject to the will of the mind (spirit). It is an exercise in inner discipline more than anything else. Best of all, doing any of these things is completely free of charge attesting again that the best things in life are often free and readily available.
The whole purpose of making these very deliberate and conscious choices, contrary to one's inclinations is intended to make a person objectively take stock of themselves and forcing themselves by their own volition and better judgment, to bring themselves under their own self control by practicing self restraint without becoming fanatically ascetic. By, ultimately triumphing over their own detrimental and often unconscious habits they lift themselves of a burden that had made them and the people around them subject to. In essence, this is all that fasting really is! Used in this manner and with this awareness, fasting will put a person back in control of their own life.
It is quite natural and fully expected that anyone who is fasting will lose weight. This is the simple outcome from eating fewer food calories.
This is something that has been substantiated by many healers including Dr. Bernard Jensen. Dr. Bernard Jensen wrote and taught extensively for decades on Diet change and fasting. Many of the practitioners who you may see on TV promoting health and wellness are often just repeating what Dr. Bernard Jensen had already tried, proven and substantiated about 50 -60 years earlier. The books below are a few of the books he had written and that many millions of people had read and followed. Why hear it second or third hand when you can read the original information from one of the foremost pioneers of modern health and disease prevention.
Fasting is a lot easier when a person has already been taking good care of themselves or if their internal organs have already been kept fairly clean through the various methods of organ cleansing. When the organs are clean it is easier for the body to process the accumulated toxins that are within it. The average North American, having been exposed to more toxins than most should approach fasting with a little caution.
Weight loss is the what fasting is about. Fasting is about periodic body balancing to restore good health, weight loss being simply a bonus from the process.
The Master Cleanse Fast- The Master Cleanse concept is based on fasting. It was developed by Stanley Burroughs - a non-medical practitioner This particular fasting method has been very popular with many. The Master Cleanse involves fasting on water, mixed with freshly squeezed lemon juice, Grade B maple syrup with a dash of Cayenne pepper. The fast lasts 10 days with a 2 day period to ease off it by drinking freshly squeezed orange juice.
The general effect experienced by most doing the Master Cleanse is a sense of well being during and after the fast. Surprisingly, food cravings tend to not be a problem as a person can have as much of mixture as they please, there is a sense of "feeling full" while doing it. The weight loss is generally a bonus.Because of the sudden reduction in food intake, it would likely be too much for the average person to go from a standard North American Diet into a complete fast of this type.
Fasting On Raw Fruit and Vegetables
- Fasting on raw fruits and vegetables may be easier than fasting on juice for some because there is no limit as to how much raw fruits and vegetables can be eaten. Generally, a person can eat as much as they like, when ever they like. This can also be considered a totally Vegan approach to fasting. Some have stated that fasting on juice is easier in that you feel less hunger. This seems counter intuitive but, nevertheless, that has been the surprise experience of many.
Like with juice fasting a person will experience weight loss but, that is not the reason for doing this. Weight loss is just one benefit of fasting in this way. Every now and then the deleing process will need to be slowed down. This is simply done by eating something cooked. A baked potato helps.
People who have been eating a meat based diet for a long time may also need to take a potassium supplement. Potassium gluconate was the supplement of choice for most. It tends to help remove the uric acid our of the body as it starts to break down in the system.
Homeopathic Diet Fast
- The Homeopathic diet is a sort of fast that was recommended by Samuel Hahnemann for the sake of making homeopathic remedies work more completely. It is interesting to note that the "Pulse" that was recommended by Daniel in the Bible and the homeopathic diet recommended by Jakob Lorber in his book the Healing Power of Sunlight are the same. Jakob Lorber provides the most details about the do's and don't's of the homeopathic diet.
The homeopathic diet is unlike the juicing or raw fruit and vegetable fasts. It rely's mainly on cooked seeds in the form of grains, lentils and legumes and cooked fruit without any salt or sugar.
Because this type of fast permits no salt or sugar it is rather bland at first. It takes about a month before the taste buds re-awaken from having been numbed through over stimulation through common spices. When they do, you start to taste the actual sweetness and flavor of the these foods. What is even more astounding is that after fasting on these foods and having gotten used to them, you actually start to prefer them over any others. As you would expect, people look forward to enjoying the foods they had normally eat. But, most after having broken their fast are happy to go back to eating what they were eating on the fast. The food feels good inside, their weight is down and their pains are gone.
Juice Fasting- Joe Cross, is not a health practitioner by profession but, he shows how to do a juice fast better than most who are. He created the video on the right of this page because it was he who was Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and decided to do something about it. In his video he shows how anyone can do it. It is amazing that when people assume the responsibility for their own lives what they can do with it. Fasting is seen as radical in the modern world but, it was quite a normal part of life in the old world and still is for some people. The reasons for fasting used to be primarily spiritual. The obvious physical benefits were considered secondarily. But, as anyone will see in the video, what may have been considered spiritual benefits 1000 years ago, in today's terms amount to:
Rudolf Breuss On Juice Fasting
- Rudolf Breuss is not a household name, especially in North America. In Europe he was a herbalist and developed a remedy for Cancer. He was so successful that he was finally dragged into court and charge with practicing medicine without a license among other things. What was not known was that he had tens of thousand of letters from people he had successfully cured over the years and at his trial many of them testified. The case was thrown out of court!
Rudolf Breuss' method involved a specialized form of juice fasting and a few specific teas.
No one can legally call this a cure but, his little booklet, as simple as it may appear, is worth reading. The book The Grape Cure by Johanna Brandt is equally valuable. Do not let the very unassuming appearance of these small books undermine their value. Their information is priceless!