Khatri Bhai: Babaji, navratra is in two weeks.
Me: So should we do it this time too?
Khatri Bhai: <shrugging shoulders> I have no problem.
Me: So be it.
This was all it took to put us both again into the realm of fasting. Six days of controlled food, with hopefully controlled lifestyles too. Our first experience with fasting happened around the same time last year. But things were different this time. For one, we had the first hand experience of what it takes to fast, and two, I had read ‘Miracles of Fasting’ by Paul Braggs over the summers. Although filled with marketing pitches, repetitive information, and debatable anecdotes, this book did have an impression on me to increase the intensity of our fast.
We started it on 15th Oct, deciding only to eat fruits and vegetables, and drink just water. I personalized it with adding honey and lemon to my permissible list and Khatri bhai added milk. It might not be obvious from the list that this list meant no salt, no sugar, no milk products, no grains, no lentils for about a week (no chocolates too ;). To add to it, one day we would fast just on water. Again I personalized this to a 48 hour stretch just on water, occasionally mixed with little honey, and Khatri Bhai decided to add to his water fast a silence fast for two days – no talking to anyone except in case of emergency. In toto, it was a bit more strict fast than we undertook last year and consequently the experiences were also a bit different.
The one thing this fast reaffirmed my belief in is that it is not too difficult to fast given the right mindset. A lot of people ask, “dont you feel hungry all day?”, and my honest answer is, “No”. I did feel the bouts of hunger in the initial days, but those are only when the body clocks tells it that its time to eat some food. A glass of water and little patience is all it need to satiate it. Apart from that even on days of water fasting hunger was not something that occupied my mind. Yes, weakness does creep in, and one does feel low on average due to lack of energy which one derives from food. This is especially true for water fast.
Another question which people usually asked was “Why?”. I would have loved to answer this question with a simply by saying – “For the spirit of adventure”, but thats not probably the only reason I decided to go on fasting again. I do believe that during fasting the body starts a cleansing process to remove toxins. Once we stop eating, the body stops is building process and diverts its energy to the cleansing process. An this “belief” motivates my fasting endeavors. I also believe that, for this to happen in a proper manner, the body should be relaxed – both physically and mentally – all throughout fasting. This is what I missed last time, and this is what I missed again – a complete state of rest all throughout. Somehow or the other, living in a society, and fulfilling your responsibilities, complete relaxation does not really happen, however hard you try. So, I think it would not be wrong to say that a strict long fast is probably not in the best interest of the body in everyday society conditions, unless you are confident enough to achieve a restful state.
It might be better to have a one day weekly fast for the conditions I am living in, probably not a water fast, but say a fruit fast or something to that scale. That might be a slow cleansing process, but it does fit into the contemporary lifestyles better than a week of fasting with 48 hours of water fast. Anyhow, it does feel good to have done the fast, to have controlled your desires and senses, to realize that hunger is overrated and we eat much more than we might need. It does help you to slow down your pace, to develop a real sense of taste. It does open your mind.