Fasting continues to be an integral part of many different religions. Jesus Christ fasted for forty days and forty nights. Muslims during the month of Ramadan fast during the daylight hours. I learned this also within my own culture and traditions. Medicine men fast when leading up to the point of “making medicine.” During particular ceremonies, the honvntake (men folk) as well as the hoktake (women folk) fast for the majority of the day before breaking the fast after the ceremony is complete. But why fast? I didn’t grow up fasting. I grew up eating food when I want and any time I want. What I know now is this is not so good.
The word fasting is very much ironic. Its a time to abstain from food and allow your body to cleanse itself. Although while your doing this you want it to end as quickly as possible. You want to get back to eating what you normally do and return to your accustom eating habits. It doesn’t happen that fast. Fasting is not a matter of minutes or hours. It is measured in days. It takes time. A lot of time. It’s very much intentional and requires not only physical strength but mental fortitude. It’s as difficult as getting up each day to workout. The benefits, however, go beyond just the warm and fuzzy feeling of being proud that you worked out. The process and the conclusion of a fast that is carried out with balance and integrity is a very emotionally charged event that can be overwhelming, but in a good way.
I know we live in the time of the 89 cent cheeseburger and $1 big gulps from seven eleven. But it makes me wonder, how far from our ancestral health traditions are we going, and how much is this a product of our own doing. For myself, I was not taught to fast, but I know for a fact that my ancestors did, for ceremony and other purposes. That means in two, maybe three, generations the ancestral health traditions were pushed to the periphery of my family and also my community. Essentially, this critical life skill was drowned out through formal education, media misinformation, and federal public policy. I think it’s amazing what America has done to build up its nation while tearing down its people. Yet the onus for my health does not fall on someone else, it falls on me. So as much as I want to protest on capitol hill what America is doing to the majority of its citizens through industrial agriculture, it’s on me to actually make the change for my health, not someone else. That can seem at time harder than passing a bill through Congress.
Like I talked about in a previous post, I have hypoglycemia. That makes it a little bit more difficult to fast. I only fasted for one day, but I can only imagine how I would feel if I fasted longer, maybe four or seven days. Forty days might be pushing it, but Jesus does give me something to strive for. I know for a fact as well that I would not have been able to do this if I had not learned to eat healthier. I had tried to fast before, but usually ended it with a large pizza and garlic knots. It usually would not go for a day either. Maybe a couple hours. I don’t recommend fasting unless you are a person that has eaten healthy for about a year at least. From my experience, I think it is because your body has built up essential vitamins and nutrients that can extend over a long period of time without renewing. The scientific reason I don’t full understand, but since David Blaine fasted for 44 days, it would be interesting to know what he thought.
Not eating is as much a part of health as eating. I would have never imagined that one of the most profound experiences in my life would be from fasting, but this is one of the true pleasant surprises. Just remember, “not so fast,” before you pick up that valentines themed jelly filled doughnut. What you might realize is the key to your health is not the time you take to eat, but the time you take to fast.