I've been focusing on fasting as a strategy to enhance my long-term health. There are numerous ways to fast, and at this moment, I'm more than halfway through a 72-hour fast.
Before this latest experiment, I made a conscious decision to be mindful of the 'noise' within my physical body and emotions during this fast. Becoming more attuned to the noise in our lives empowers us to respond to it effectively. Minor aches, a rumbling stomach, a fleeting temper, a change in plans, and the critical voices in my head - all constitute this 'noise'.
Here are some insights from this fast that I will continue to reflect upon:
- Unless we establish a clear intention to be mindful and acknowledge the noise, it will persist unchecked until we are compelled to notice. This unaddressed noise, for many, becomes a source of regret later in life.
- The prevailing mindset when irritations arise in our lives is that circumstances should be different. We're dissatisfied with our present. However, our feelings about the situation won't change anything. The only gift available is the opportunity to practice temperance, composure, and compassion. Consider it akin to sparring in boxing. Our resilience strengthens each time we reframe our negative emotions.
- Be aware of our limitations. Our restless mind is often urging us to push harder. The physical constraints of fasting reminded me, on a micro-level, that we have a finite capacity, and we should be more connected to our energy versus our ego.
- 99% of my anxiety about fasting had little to do with physical discomfort. It was the anticipation of the duration that induced the most cravings and unease. Being present is a common mantra, but experiencing the immediate shift in physical state from a mental reframe was a powerful reminder.
Subjecting our bodies to controlled stress (i.e., hormesis), such as fasting, is an effective method to audit our journey towards becoming more mindful. Being able to tangibly observe our responses to stressors is invaluable in identifying and reducing the daily noise we encounter.
And as always, when in doubt… Pause, Breathe, and Quiet the Noise