You know the drug in the movie Limitless? Fasting is the natural, healthy, and sustainable version of that. To read all the benefits of fasting, make sure to check out this article.
Here, I'll be going through different strategies to amplify your fasting experience.
1.) Fast for a Specific Purpose
Fasting without a purpose is nothing more than starving yourself. However, fasting for a specific purpose transforms your physical into a spiritual experience.
You can fast for literally anything. It is simply a form of prayer or meditation — but intensified. Thus, if prayer and/or meditation is a part of your regular practice, coupling these with fasting is like injecting them with steroids.
Before I begin a fast, I ponder on something meaningful to put my elevated energy toward. Sometimes I fast for other people, like a family member or friend who is sick. Other times I’ll fast to do well on a project I’m working on. You can fast for anything, but have it be something immediately relevant to you or someone you care about.
2.) Make Fasting a Ritual
Ritualizing activities enhances their enjoy-ability and deepens their meaning. The definition of a ritual is, “a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.” You can revamp and ritualize any activity.
Try to ritualize as much of your life as possible to create anticipation, excitement, flow, and intense presence during the activity.
For example, my running partner, Tyler, and I have made our runs into rituals. We meet each other at the same place before our run begins. While we run, we talk about deep philosophy and science. We’ve even created rituals around the food we eat during our run. Every 45 minutes, we walk for one minute and eat. At the conclusion of the run, we get chocolate milks, turn on the hot air, and zone out while on an endorphin high.
The whole activity is a sequence of events, designed for the purpose of intensifying the experience. Repetition and pattern create depth.
I have rituals around my writing, reading, eating, exercise, and other activities. When I used to live in Salt Lake City, a friend of mine and I would always order the same breakfast sandwich from Einstein Bagels and listen to the same playlists while driving up the canyon to go snowboarding.
To make fasting a ritual, I always begin and end with mediation and prayer. Before I start, I visualize and think about the things I’m fasting for — my specific purpose for fasting. I open my journal and write down the thing(s) I’m fasting for.
When my fast is complete, I write down the insights I’ve gained from my fast. Once you become accustomed to fasting, you’ll get used to the rapid inflow of ideas, insights, inspirations, and deep learning that is an integral part of fasting.
Making fasting into a ritual creates anticipation between your fasts. This anticipation will elevate your experience.
3.) Make a Fast-Offering by Giving Food You Would Have Eaten to Someone in Need
To elevate the experience even further, take the money you would have spent on food (or its approximate equivalent), and give that money to someone in need or a cause you believe in.
Personally, I enjoy giving what I call my “Fast Offering” to someone who is hungry and without food. Thus, not only am I not eating for a higher purpose, but I’m giving that food to someone who needs it more than I do.
Giving a fast-offering is what makes your fast truly complete.
4.) When You Think About Food, Re-Focus on Your Purpose
The first few times you fast, you can expect head aches and feelings of hunger throughout. If you’re a fortunate person, you’ve probably only experienced real hunger a few times in your entire life. It’s interesting to think that millions of people on this planet live hungry every single day.
But the more you fast, the better you’ll get at controlling your mind. You’re not really starving, you’re addicted (probably to sugar).
So whenever your mind fixates on food, take a few moments to refresh yourself on why you’re fasting. What’s that specific purpose you’re fasting for?
Open your journal and re-read what you wrote at the opening of your fast. Write down some thoughts or ideas you’ve had about the person or thing you’re fasting for. If the purpose is compelling enough, your momentary lack of food should be placed back in proper context.
5.) Ease Into Fasting & Don’t Fast For Too Long
But in order to work your way up, practice fasting at first for just one meal. Then after you’ve gotten accustomed to that, move up to two meals and then 24 hours.
It’s common for people who experience the radical benefits of fasting to take the practice to extremes. This isn’t smart. One day is more than sufficient for a specific fast. The blessings and benefits you seek will come.
6.) Associate Pleasure with Fasting
You can create mental triggers for anything. For most people, the feeling of hunger triggers negative emotions. However, you can trigger feelings of pleasure and joy when you feel hungry during a fast. All you have to do is think about your purpose for that specific fast.
The moment you feel hunger, remember how marvelous it is to be tapping into higher realms of conscious and deeper wellsprings of health. It feels amazing to be fasting.
Creating a pleasure trigger for hunger turns fasting from an arduous experience into a combination of zen and ecstasy.
7.) Snowball Effect: Practice Self-Control in Other Ways While Fasting
Your mental acuity will never be sharper than while you’re fasting. Similarly, your self-control will also be peaked. Take advantage of this by double-dipping the willpower workout.
While I’m fasting, I take cold showers and make sure to work with intensive focus during the hours I’ve planned on working. I also give my full attention and joy to the people I’m with. I play like a crazy-man with my foster kids. I don’t check my social media and I turn my phone on airplane mode. The more things you can do to increase your self-control while fasting, the more optimal the experience.
Self-control, at its heart, is extreme implementation of those things you already know you should be doing. So, implement those things you’ve been procrastinating. During a fast is the best time to improve all your habits and daily behaviors.
Just like working out in the gym, your willpower will likely be exhausted after a fast. The rest between fasts — like the rest between workouts — is just as essential as the fasting itself.
8.) Transition In & Out of Fasting with Small Meals
It’s funny, but at the end of a willpower workout, people often make the idiotic decision of gorging themselves after their fast. Don’t lose control after having just practiced self-control! If you gorge out on a bunch of junk food right after a fast, you’ll destroy your willpower progress and personal confidence. Without self-control, you can’t have confidence.
Novice fasters gorge themselves directly before and after a fast. They think that by eating a ton of food, they’ll have enough food in them to not get hungry during the fast. Ironically, when you eat large portions of food, your body creates an overabundance of insulin which lowers your blood sugar. When this happens, you feel hungry — generally craving sugar — even when you’re really not hungry.
Eating big meals before a fast makes the experience hell. Don’t do it. Instead, eat something really light to transition into your fasted state. Similarly, when you complete your fast, eat a small portion to zone-out.
I’ve had success lately starting my fast around lunchtime. I’ll eat a normal sized breakfast, and for lunch I’ll have a light protein shake or maybe a salad to transition into my fast. I’ll close my fast at lunchtime the next day with a bowl of fruit or a light protein shake and lots of water.
9.) Fast With Other People For a Joint-Cause
Getting a group of people together to fast for a singular person or thing is powerful. It knits the group tightly together in unity and love. It also leads to miracles and radical breakthroughs.
Fast as a family for something relevant and important to your family. Fast as a company to meet your business objectives.
Fast in whatever group you want — so long as the purpose for the fast is relevant to each member of the group.
10.) Learn Your Body & Fast in a Way that Best Suites You
There are tons of ways to fast. The purpose of this article is not to tout any specific type of fasting, but rather, the practice of fasting in general.
If fasting is something you want to incorporate into your life, experiment with different approaches.
Intermittent fasting is very popular right now. Juice fasting is also awesome. I’ve tried both of these in different forms and for varying lengths of time.
For me, the form of fasting that works for my body is doing a 24 hour fast from both food and water once per month. However, lately, I’ve been doing a 24 hour fast from both food and water weekly or bi-weekly.
Experiment with it and figure out what works best for you. Most fasting practices don’t exclude water. But for me, that’s part of my practice.
Lastly, some people physically can’t fast for medical reasons. You can get many of the psychological, relational, and spiritual benefits of fasting by abstaining from anything you perceive as a need. For example, I often do 24 hour fasts from the internet and my cell phone. You could fast from caffeine, or sugar, or alcohol.
11.) Stay Hydrated throughout The Week
If you’re not properly hydrated, fasting for an extended period of time can cause dehydration. You can avoid this by drinking healthy amounts of water throughout the week — 64 plus ounces per day.
12.) If You Slip-Up, “Lock it Up!”
Our self-control is super fickle! Usually, when I “give in” to one even small conflicted choice, the flood gates open up! The best example for me is food. I could be eating awesome all morning, then justify even a little bit of junk food. The problem is, that one justification weakens my resolve against future justifications, and I quickly find myself sugar-binging.
But just because you feel like you’re “losing the battle,” doesn’t mean you need to give up and lose the war.
LOCK IT UP!
Finish! Done is better than perfect.
I spent months studying for a test called the G.R.E. to get into graduate school. I needed to get a specific score in order to be competitive for strong PhD programs. Half way through the math section of the test, I felt like throwing in the towel. I was sure I had missed several questions and felt, in the moment, that there was no chance I’d get the score I needed.
But then this thought popped into my head: Finish strong. The past is out of your control. But you’re still in this. Don’t quit before you finish. This will be over soon, so take control and crush this.
I closed my eyes, took a few breathes, visualized the score I wanted, prayed for strength, and sprinted with confidence to the end of the test. Do what is right, let the consequence follow — come what may, and love it.
I got the score I needed.
The worst thing you can do for your willpower is throw in the towel after one slip-up. The same is true of fasting. There are no rules. There is no “perfect” fast. Just finish strong.
13.) Don’t Make it a Big Deal
When you’re fasting, it may be tempting to talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the fact that you’re fasting. However, you’ll get deeper meaning and insight out of your fast by keeping it private and personal.
If you’re fasting for someone else, like someone who is sick or going through difficulty, keep it anonymous. They will feel the power of your fast without you having to tell them you’re doing it.
If you start to feel drained, splash cold water on your face. Don’t look weighed down, sad, and tired. Stay upbeat and vibrant.
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