One of my favourite things to ‘do’ while water fasting is to find a spot in nature and simply sit, doing nothing, just being, staring out into the environment, remaining present and aware. Quickly, I become one with myself and the world around me. Time melts away… The experience of connection gives rise to the feeling of love…
I love the way that water fasting affects consciousness. Beyond all the obvious physical benefits, it is precisely such changes to state of mind and being which, at least for me, make a fast something to look forward to.
Water fasting offers you the opportunity to experience a simple state of being, much freer from the turbulent torrents of thought which characterise everyday life. Without your mind battering you with constant (and usually meaningless) mental chatter, your consciousness clears. It feels like a fog lifting from a landscape to reveal a spacious blue sky, under which the details of the landscape are revealed in all their beauty. There really is a tangible feeling of spaciousness: one spreading out inside you. A feeling of being able to breathe. A feeling of life and the appreciation of being alive.
For most people, this clarity of consciousness manifests only rarely, either spontaneously or through meditation. While water fasting, though, it eventually becomes the effortless norm through which you experience yourself and the world around you.
First of all, think of the saying: you are what you eat. This is absolutely true, and what you eat most certainly defines who you are both physically and spiritually. By not eating anything at all, though, you go one step further. You free yourself from definitions altogether. Without being tied down to food, you become able to experience yourself for who you are, without other factors silently influencing you. You find the deeper, real you.
Second, in my experience, the process of burning fat through ketosis (see the one-day water fast and the three-day water fast) most certainly affects your state of consciousness. Biochemically, it is an extremely clean burn, the metabolism of which yields only carbon dioxide and water. It is also a slower burn than that achieved through sugars and starches – the metabolism of which more effectively mobilises the kind of quick energy needed to respond to stress situations. In other words, the physical biochemical characteristics of ketosis’ slow, clean burn reflect spiritually as well, in terms of how you actually experience yourself while fasting.
Are you going to experience deeper, clearer states of consciousness on your first water fast? Probably not. Over time you need to adapt physically, so that you can quickly and easily access the metabolism of ketosis – and this can happen only through practice, through repeated fasting. Also, your first few water fasts are more likely to revolve around a battle with your ego and your addictions to food. Until these issues are largely resolved, it’s more likely that fasting will actually cause your state of consciousness to narrow rather than to broaden. After all, this is exactly how your ego impacts in general on consciousness: isolating you from your deeper self, as well as the external world. Consequently, it’s more likely that during your first few water fasts you’ll feel pent in and restricted. Believe me, though, it’s worth persevering!
When most people think of water fasting as a spiritual discipline, they think of it as a means of self-denial or as a tool to punish the body. If approached from a healthy mind-set, though, nothing could be further from the truth! It is a celebration of freedom and, through that freedom, a way to access the key to a more profound experience of self. Through that key you’ll come to experience love, for love is all that remains after you untie the straight-jacket of everyday human consciousness. Through that key perhaps you’ll even experience something close to revelation – for you don’t have to be a Moses or a Jesus to gain insight while fasting!