Spirit and soul
Comments 15

Physical and spiritual cleansing: from fear to love

Does the thought of water fasting frighten you?

It’s completely natural to feel fear before and even during your first few water fasts.  After all, unlike our ancestors, you’ve probably never gone without food for more than a few hours, let alone a few days.  Food is comfort.  Food is pleasure.  And yes, food is addiction.  Taking away food means taking away your emotional foundation.  It means living on your own two feet, without anything to lean on.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely!  Water fasting causes the deepest cleansing both physically to your body, as well as spiritually to your consciousness.  Nothing else can heal every cell of your being to the same degree.

This isn’t always an easy process to begin with.  Just as the emotional tension of everyday life creates tension and pain in the physical body, the opposite also happens – and so the physical detoxification of a water fast can also catalyze an emotional detoxification, especially during your first few water fasts.  What does this mean?  Just as physical detoxification can create aches and pains in your body as toxins are released and expelled, so the emotional and spiritual detoxification of a water fast can sometimes bring up painful memories and feelings buried deep in the subconscious.

Water fasting offers you the opportunity to free yourself from these long forgotten blocks – blocks which otherwise limit your potential as a human being, as well as taking much of the joy out of life.

The first step is always the hardest, but with a little practice and experience, you’ll look forward to the healing metabolism unlocked by water fasting.  The aches and pains of your first few water fasts will disappear, and instead you’ll experience lightness and energy in your physical body.  Likewise, the emotional ups and downs of your first few water fasts will evolve into a deeper and clearer level of consciousness.  States of being and presence which most people experience only in meditation become completely natural while fasting.

And you’ll experience love.

As you begin to release your physical and emotional blocks, a growing feeling of love is inevitable.  Love for yourself and your body.  Love for the world around you.  Love everywhere.  Normally we’re too blinded by our own little dramas, too locked into our stressed-out, cramped little lives to notice.  But love is and always has been here, within us and around us.  It’s the only thing left when you take everything else away.  By taking away food through water fasting, you catalyze this process.  Not a bad reason to begin, don’t you think?

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  1. Robin says

    Hi Tallis,
    I did a juicing fast for 3 wks several years ago and by the end I felt beyond wonderful. It also temporarily healed my acid reflux. I’m looking to do another fast and found your site. As an obese person I have been told that fasting is bad because too many toxins are released during the process as fat cells carry a lot of toxins. Do you think if I did a 3 wk juice fast & then eased into water fast at the end at it would be better for my body this way? Thank you kindly for your response 🙂

    • Tallis Barker, D.Phil. says

      Hi Robin,
      Thanks for your question. First, many people say a lot of different hings about fasting and what is good and what is bad. Yes, fat cells carry toxins, but just because you may have more fat cells than someone who is not obese, it doesn’t mean that your overall toxic load across the whole body is any higher. That will depend on diet and environmental factors. What I can tell you is that if you didn’t suffer from terrible detox symptoms while juice fasting, you probably won’t die from water fasting either. You will certainly have lower energy levels compared to juice fasting – as we all do – and you will almost certainly have some kind of detox symptoms – as we all do – but they are unlikely to prevent you from actually achieving your goal.
      Transitioning from a juice fast into a water fast is a very smooth way to continue the detox.
      So go for it!

  2. Jurema says

    By Tallis ,

    Thank you for this super useful article and I have a question / recommendation, I started fasting a few years ago with Intermidiate fasting and build up to 7 days water fasting.my life changed and i felt amazingly but this last year I’ve been almost unable to fast at all even 20 hours seem to be so hard on the mind. So I am digging deeper and rereading most of your articles.
    In this 24hour fast article you mentioned that most people never go without food and it nudged a thought for me … I spent the 1st 2years of my life with not much food and for sure malnourished ( had those big round bellies ) my mother’s pregnancy was severely malnourished too.
    I see now that with all that has happen this last year with uncertainty it has made me more attached to food or seeking food for comfort again since everything else is so unsure even thought my transition these 5 years has been teaching me that … Going a bit off topic here sorry.

    But I am looking for advise or any trauma experiences relating to food. Fasting has been healing for me it just has been hard to find my way back toit without feeling so guilt and weak after not managing even an 2 days Intermidium fasting.

    After reading your post again I will attempt the 36 hours weekly water fasting to restart … I feel i need at least 3 days but baby steps for the ego.the body loves it but the mind is at a self sabotage mode again . What do you think ? Try a few weeks 36 hour fasting ,then build up to 3 days a learn new ways of feeling comfortable again to break this vicious cycle of feeling like a failure ,having my body super toxic again and inflamed .

    Its a trauma that stays with us forever , hunger .. and life times of relearning ways to deal with emotions and food in a healthier way .

    Thank you so so much for your wisdom and kind words.

    Much love


    • Tallis Barker Ph.D. says

      Hi Jurema,

      Thanks for sharing.
      You’ve clearly been through a lot, and when trauma dates from such an early period in life it buries itself deep into the subconscious (as you know…). It’s very possible that your initial success in fasting opened the door to these subconscious memories and stored experiences. This is now making fasting more difficult, because the part of you who suffered malnutrition as a baby has now ‘woken up’ more fully. As hard is that is now, however, it does lead the way to a potential deeper healing of these traumas.

      It seems to me that you’re wise in taking the baby steps you describe. The only way to heal your trauma is to fast so that you feel SAFE: to prove to yourself that fasting does not equal starvation. If I were you, I wouldn’t force any fixed routine of fasting – even 36 hours per week. It should be something that you do when you truly feel ready, and you feel your body asking to be cleansed. Perhaps this will equate over the long term to 36 hours a week. Perhaps more. Perhaps less. Over time, as your injured self experiences the knowledge that fasting does NOT equal starvation, you’ll be able to very gradually increase the length of your fasts. But again, this must not feel forced, because forcing yourself to give up food too closely approximates what you experienced as a child.

      I wish you all the best,

      • Jurema says

        Hi Tallis,

        Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your kind words and wisdom. This is indeed what I am figuring out , so many times I say too much and pit to much pressure around fasting that when the time actually comes it becomes too hard. Not on the body but the mind and the anxiety that comes up.and indeed my first 3 years was almost like I always fasted my entire life ,started a bit to hard maybe but Its all a learning curve and the less pressure I do put on myself the better but it’s hard to recognize when I am indeed on putting pressure because only recently I’ve been discovering how to be gentle and kind to myself so it is all connected. I did manage yesterday the first 22 hour fast that I’ve done in a long time and it was a ” we will see how I feel approach ” and didn’t judge myself for having a mizou soup and some mango at night instead of the initial 36 hours water semi planned last week.i woke up with more energy than ever and more hope again that I can indeed do this.
        It has been a journey , together with a therapy called indigo (biofeedback) were I am learning to balance my body and listen to it. Is just the yo-yo that sometimes scares me a lot , I fluctuate so much weight wise but in time I will get to know me better and feel more instead of being so much in my head with planning fasts etc.

        It gives an amazing tranquility to the mind and the body thank you so much again for your kind words and knowledge ,when I feel lost in the world of fasting I always come back to your page and read your content and your own personal experiences.
        Have an amazing day.
        Much love


  3. Sandy says

    So I started Juice fasting a couple of years ago and with it I was able to mend a damaged spine. About 6 weeks ago I gradually started alternating between short water fasts and OMAD Keto diet. Right now I am on day 5 of a water fast. What I have experienced in these 6 weeks is 32lbs of weight loss. Major break out on my face, neck and upper back. Major emotions and memories resurfacing from a long time ago and reevaluating things and seeing things from a totally different perspective. I am looking to go to at least 21 days on this water fast having built up to this and needing to lose another 20lbs, but mostly to get more detox.
    I have hard little fat cysts in my legs I want to get rid of and they are already half the size they were when I started this. I also want to heal any linger damage in my spine that maybe there.
    I have noticed many wrinkles in my face disappearing but I suddenly have little jowls- I am hoping they will go away as I continue.
    I really never knew I could get so much out of fasting. I have built up to the point I am at now and I am excited to finally feel ready to engage in a longer water fast bc up until now I have only done 3 day water fasts repeatedly and one 7 day. I was most surprised by the emotional things that came up but after dealing with them I feel so much better. I had no idea that stuff was hiding in the recesses of my mind.

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Thanks for sharing, Sandy 🙂
      You’re absolutely right about those emotions locked inside the body-mind: something that we can let go of while fasting thanks to the emotional cleansing which takes place. Often it takes quite a lot of experience just to get through the physical detox before the emotional toxins start to reveal themselves. But when they do, this is when an even greater level of healing can take place.
      I wish you strength and success on your current journey,

  4. Ivi says

    Hey. I took a short fast. Was planning to make it 4 days, but I broke it at day 2 ^^ now im planning to do 8-16 fasting with low carb diet for a while. I hope that affects my mood and lets the energy flow better in my body. Also I hope to solve some serious energy blocks. You think intermittend fasting can also be emotionally cleansing or do you need extended water fasting to get the results?

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Ivi,
      Thanks for sharing.
      All water fasting causes cleansing and, to a degree, all fasts are emotionally cleansing too. However, we tend to cleanse starting on the outside, progressing further inwards. On a long water fast, for example, recent physical toxins tend to be cleansed before older toxins. The same applies to physical versus emotional cleansing: it takes place from the outside in. Generally, therefore, over the first few days of a fast the emphasis is on physical cleansing, whereas emotional (and then spiritual cleansing) develop a greater momentum later on. This is especially powerful to watch on a fasting retreat, when everyone is gradually going deeper into themselves from day to day.

      So, to return to your question: intermittent fasting simply doesn’t give you enough time to go deep emotionally. A long fast would be more effective for that. Having said this, though, every fast DOES provide a degree of emotional detox, and if you keep it up over the long term, I hope intermittent fasting will provide evidence of this.

      All the best,

  5. Is it safe for women to water fast while on their menses? I’m on day two of a water fast and I found that water was making me feel nauseated this morning. Then, I became really dehydrated.

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Lara,

      Thanks for your question. The quick answer is yes, it’s definitely safe to water fast while menstruating.

      The nausea you experienced was probably caused by the added cleansing effect of your period on top of the cleansing effect of the water fast. It may have simply been too much detox. But you should also know that nausea can kick in on Day 2 of any water fast. In fact, it happened to me a couple of months ago on Day 2 of a 2-week water fast – something which came as a complete surprise, because I normally NEVER feel nauseous. It just shows how unpredictable detox can be!

      Another consequence of water fasting during your period can be a stronger flow. Again, the natural cleansing flow of your period is intensified by the cleansing effect of the fast itself.

      The worst thing that a water fast can do to you is upset the natural rhythm of your cycle, causing you to miss a period. However, this depends on both the length of a water fast as well as its timing during your cycle. Don’t worry, though: your body should return to its usual rhythm within a month or two. In fact, I’ve heard from women with irregular periods that, over the longer term, water fasting can help to regulate the length of their cycle.

      All the best,

  6. L Diane says

    Is a juice fast effective at all?

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      In a word: yes.

      Everything has its place in the world, as well as within the world of fasting and cleansing. Water fasting is certainly more powerful than juice fasting, and, personally, I haven’t juice fasted a single time since starting to practise water fasting many years ago. For me, there’s simply no point.

      But this isn’t to say that juice fasting isn’t effective. Nor is it to say that it isn’t the right or the best cleanse for other people. For people with less fasting experience, juice fasting can be great precisely because it’s not so intensive and precisely because it doesn’t make such big demands on eating habits and addictions – like giving up ALL food, for instance, in a water fast :-). Especially in this day of instant food and instant gratification , some people simply aren’t ready psychologically to go without food for more than a few hours. That’s okay. By practising juice fasting, you gently train yourself to ‘survive’ without your usual diet, and this can act as a bridge towards water fasting later on.

      Juice fasts are also great if you have to work during your fast. I always recommend that people take time off work when water fasting, but there’s really no need if you’re juice fasting. Especially if you’re doing a fruit juice or citrus diet, then the simple sugars actually provide a huge amount of quick energy. It can almost feel like a high!

      Hope this helps,

  7. Aryn says

    I did my first 5-day water fast almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve done short fasts, but mender linger than 36 hours. All this week I’ve been thinking that I need to do another extended fast, but something was holding me back – fear? Not sure. But then I wake up this morning to multiple blog posts from you filling up my inbox. I think it’s God telling me to do it. Get over my fear and do an extended fast again. I will start tomorrow. Thank you for your words that pushed me!

    • Tallis Shivantar says

      Hi Aryn,
      Thanks for sharing. Glad you’ve found the inspiration to do what you already knew in your heart was right :-). At least the onslaught of all those posts helped someone a little!
      All the best,

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