This article is about the spiritual benefits of fasting, that is, how fasting or intermittent fasting helps you evolve and get in touch with your spiritual side, rather than its benefits purely in terms of physical health.
Still, as a disclaimer: I am not a professional and this post doesn’t represent medical advice in any way.
If you’d like to give fasting a try, please use common sense because there is a right (and wrong) way to do it; again, nothing this post would cover. Full disclaimer of the site here.
Fasting as a way to grow spiritually
Much like meditation and prayer, fasting has been practiced for thousands of years as a way to cultivate spirituality.
We see fasting in many different religions, including Christianity and Buddhism; though you don’t have to identify with any religion to be spiritual, it shows that there can be a link between fasting and spirituality.
At first, it may seem like removing such a basic mechanical act as eating has nothing to do with your spiritual side, yet it can have profound effects in terms of introspection and awareness.
I myself fasted for the first time intuitively, to fulfill a need that was beyond the physical and even the mental; it was a bit like taking a break from everything… including food.
Spiritual benefits of fasting
In no particular order…
Gratitude doesn’t just make you grow spiritually, it’s also one of the easiest and fastest ways to improve your mental health — I’ve mentioned it in quite a few articles already.
A practice as simple as fasting teaches you not to take anything for granted, and instead appreciate the good things in your life — be grateful for them and realize how blessed you actually are.
2. Awareness of energy
Food is without a doubt our main source of energy. However, it’s not the only source, and if you are into spirituality you probably know about other “subtle” sources.
Think of our own motivation and willpower; or even things like beauty, love, and faith. When you remove the main source of energy, your mind/body naturally looks for the subtle ones — the spiritual ones, that often come from within.
Literally anything in life can be achieved through discipline; it is one of the most overlooked skills a person can have. And you can use that discipline, willpower and determination to improve your circumstances in life…
Or to actually evolve spiritually. But chances are, your ability to be disciplined will positively affect all areas of your life — from spirituality, to health, to your relationships with others.
4. Mental clarity
If you have never fasted before, this may sound counterintuitive. How could you have more clarity and focus by eliminating food? Yet that’s the experience of many who fast regularly.
The truth is that, even scientifically, digestion requires energy, even for small meals. During a fast, there is nothing to digest and that frees up energy for the mind and the spirit.
5. A chance to pause
The fifth reason fasting is great for spirituality is that it allows you to take a break, pause, and reflect. Think of meditation — why is it such a powerful practice? Because essentially it’s a break.
Sure, meditation allows you to get in touch with your own mind, then go beyond it… and enter altered states of consciousness, etc. But that’s secondary. Primarily, you pause. And look within. Fasting is a similar experience.
6. A chance to receive
Those who cultivate spirituality know there is more. Some say it’s God. Some call it the spirit. Some believe it’s nothing but the vast mind, or the higher self, or the future self.
So how do you embrace this higher intelligence, and receive information from it? You become empty. To be empty, you have to remove all distractions, all the noise. And if you are serious about it, you fast as well.
7. Needs vs wants
We tend to identify with all our thoughts, and feelings (see them as who we are). The issue is, not all of them are accurate, or even helpful for that matter. Similarly, we have positive desires/needs as well as negative ones.
And because they all come in the form of thoughts or feelings, we tend to identify with all of them. Fasting tells you what’s really important, what truly matters, so you can distinguish between internal needs and external wants.
8. Past memories
Wouldn’t it be great if you could go back in time and experience your greatest memories with vivid intensity? Well, it turns out you can get pretty close to that thanks to fasting.
The trick is to put your mind in the same state it was in the past, and somehow fasting can trigger that. It happened to me twice as I was fasting — memories from my childhood seemed to pop up out of nowhere, and I was surprised at how intense they were.
9. Increased sensitivity
Spirituality can be defined as a higher level of awareness. One of the ways you reach that level is by getting rid of everything that distracts the soul (metaphorically, everything that fills up the “container”).
After you fast, food tastes infinitely better, and your sense of smell improves too; that’s kind of obvious. But it goes beyond that — just like mental clarity improves, you’ll find that your sensitivity to stimuli in general is higher; your awareness is higher.
10. Deep sleep
The last spiritual benefit of fasting is that it tends to allow deep sleep, mainly because your body no longer has to deal with digesting food while you sleep.
Perhaps it won’t benefit your spiritual side directly, but think of the implications. True deep sleep is the only time in which the world disappears as the mind stops working and turns inward; which can be compared to meditation.
Other benefits of fasting
(Including intermittent fasting, which is a good way to get started)
- Improved digestion
- Lower inflammation
- More time
- Higher nutrient absorption
- Better oral health
- Better memory