I’ve been trying out intermittent fasting as a spiritual practice, and yearn to get to a point where I fast for longer periods. I am no longer super strict–but I long to get back into the discipline because I felt really happy doing this practice. Living in a monastic community where others practice this will be helpful.
Here is an article that describes intermittent fasting as a spiritual practice.
Here is an article that describes how to ease into longer periods of fasting:
Here is a general guide to intermittent fasting.
The reason I want to practice this in the monastery is because I believe that food (even healthy vegan food) can be a roadblock to spiritual growth. Getting into a habit of fasting every day as a spiritual practice has helped me to focus more on doing my spiritual practices in the morning as well as having more self discipline.
When I first started intermittent fasting, I had an accountability partner who was doing the fast with me. I was much more able to accomplish the goal I had of eating in between noon and 6pm.
Now that I don’t have that accountability partner, I notice I have lapsed into old patterns of eating just before I go to bed, or snacking while I am reading or watching videos about current events in the evening. I am going to renew my efforts, though. One thing I intend to do is to use my hunger pangs as a way to remind me to pray for those who are suffering.
Here are a the reasons why I think that having a community of people practicing intermittent fasting would be beneficial
Spiritual benefits: Fasting is one of the most important spiritual practices. By fasting every day, we can then more easily do longer fasts, which are even more intense and helpful for spiritual life.
Health: Optimal health of monastics is very This article is very detailed and includes this list of benefits:
- Weight and body fat loss18
- Increased fat burning19
- Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels 20
- Possibly reversal of type 2 diabetes21
- Possibly improved mental clarity and concentration22
- Possibly increased energy23
- Possibly increased growth hormone, at least in the short term24
- Possibly an improved blood cholesterol profile25
Possibly activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy2
Possibly longer life26
7Possibly reduction of inflammation
Need for less food: The more I fast, the less food I need. I used to buy so much more food than I do. I am also focusing on eating nutrient dense food from my garden, which probably helps me eat less. But I know that when a person gets in the habit of eating less, and not need to eat when hungry, this helps with less food intake. This article about the Blue Zones, where people are living the longest, healthiest lives on the planet, tells about how limiting calorie intake and fasting is super healthy.
Saving money: Eating less food saves money, and frees us up on our dependence on money. I hope to get to a point where we can, if necessary, grow all the food we need. Plants like Moringa provide superfoods that provide us with all the nutrients we need. I love growing Moringa! Here is an article by Kuli Kuli.
Saving time: Growing, harvesting, storing, preparing food takes up such a high percentage of anyone’s time. Cleaning up takes time too! The more we can simplify our lives by doing such things as eating less and less, the more we can serve and do our spiritual practices.
I am so glad I wrote this article because now I am re-committing to my more strict habit of intermittent fasting. I don’t want to wait for someone to join me in order to get back into this wonderful habit.
Practicing detachment: I have found that when I have periods where I know I am not “allowed to eat,” I don’t get so attached to food especially as a way to deal with emotions. I find a sense of joy knowing that I have the ability to be disciplined. When I am “allowed” to eat, then I eat to fulfill my physical health needs. Here is a great article that talks about how to stop the habit of emotional eating. I realize that I have fallen into the habit of snacking at night because I am avoiding emotions I don’t want to feel!
Moving towards Breatharianism: I have been studying breatharianism for the past few years, and I am so fascinated and inspired by people who live without food, or on very little food. One of the main things about breatharianism is that it is scientifically proven that the human body can get nourishment from the sun and air. Forests also provide nourishment. Intermittent fasting is a step towards achieving this goal, and we can be aware of how to get nourishment from other sources than food. Perhaps some of us will aspire to be breatharians, and eventually train others to do the same. Here is an article about the topic that I found interesting.
Focusing on relationships rather than food: Most societies have food as a center of celebrations. As beautiful as that is, I wonder if we just focused on having meaningful, fun, profoundly connected interactions–would we need food? Most of us know how it is when we are having such a good time with someone that we are less hungry–especially when we are in love! Perhaps getting out of the habit of having munchies in the evening when watching a movie or playing games or having a birthday celebration or open mic–we can just focus on the beauty and fulfillment of the act of connecting.
Save money on health care: We will want to create some kind of health care insurance for emergencies. But if we are optimally healthy by practicing intermittent fasting (and many other practices) we won’t need to go to doctors–natural or otherwise.
A source of income and service: We can train people to do intermittent fasting online and in person. People can come and stay for a day, weekend, week or longer and pay to have the experience. This will also inspire people to go vegan!
Well, I am very hungry this morning, and I have 1 1/2 hours to go before I eat. But writing this article is inspiring me to drink water, go outside and breathe, and learn Falun Gong exercises. Let me know what you think about this article, and if you want to explore joining the monastery, contact me at livablefutureproject at gmail dot com.