People fast for many reasons, some see it as a form of detox, some use it for weight loss while many see it as a form of self-torture or starvation, however, there is a lot more to fasting than most people think.
Since the beginning of time, fasting has been used and connected with spiritual conditioning and enhancement. While it is easy to get lost in the multitude of physiological benefits fasting has for the physical self, it is important not to lose sight of the benefits to the spiritual self.
Hunger and the need for food is a very animalistic and primal requirement, which our physical bodies command us to fulfil. Fasting, which is the voluntary abstinence from food, is an act in which our higher spiritual self is showing our body who is in control.
In effect, we are overriding our lower primal instinct to consume food with our higher conscious choice to abstain from it. This ability to endure the physical pain of hunger and resist the pleasure of food, in order not to submit to our animalistic desire is a form of mastery that can be transferred to many aspects of human achievement.
As children, we develop this skill in a number of ways and in varying degrees. Often, our level of maturity is closely linked with our ability to withstand our primal instincts. Anger, fear, sexual desire, greed, pride, jealousy and hunger are all elements of our primal functions that require some level of moderation in order to operate in a progressive communal society.
The complete absence of inhibition in this regard results in behaviours that leave no differentiation between humans and animals, while the mastery and control of the same can lead to the highest levels of human achievement on both physical and spiritual levels.
So how is it that going against the need of our primal self, which we know possesses so much wisdom and healing potential within it, can result in so many physiological benefits?
We can often crave foods that have vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, so how is it that preventing the body from having food when it wants it, can be so good for us? Surely the opposite would be true.
To understand this properly it is important to know that, although we recognise the great wisdom within the human body, what it wants and what it needs are not always one and the same.
The primitive body’s first priority is survival, after which come avoidance of pain and attainment of pleasure. This explanation is overly simplified as there are a number of categories of pain and pleasure, but to keep it simple, the body is satisfied with the easiest route to achieve this.
Attaining optimisation in the form of physical and/or spiritual mastery is a not high priority for the primal self. Just as any other animal, it is happy living a simple life, free of pain and suffering, while enjoying life’s pleasures in the most effort-free way possible.
Human personalities are the same; most prefer a simple life filled with simple pleasures and minimal pain. However, those who achieve the most are those who have been tested with the most challenging circumstances, resulting in adaptations that lead to higher levels of operation.
Just as is the case with high-level athletes, they do what they hate to achieve what they love. We too must take instances to apply these principles to our primitive self. Whether it is fasting, cold water submersion, physical exertion or another form of controlled stress, we need to recognise that no stress is just as bad as too much stress and that in order to achieve a higher level of function we can lend from ancient wisdom that allows us to elevate our state both physically and spiritually.
Fasting has to be one of the most powerful and beneficial stresses that can be applied to the human body and those who choose not to use it are simply choosing the path of least resistance, a path that leads to a place of lower existence.