Winter tends to be a good time of year to take personal stock of the shape our lives are in. It’s good to do a mental evaluation of ourselves, our relationships and how we’re living. We always set expectations to do, to achieve or to be at certain points in our year. As a new year approaches we often want to set new boundaries and make promises or changes in hopes of the next year of our lives being the best yet.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV) – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A few months ago I was encouraged by a friend to try a 10-day fast following “The Master Cleanse” protocol.
I’d thought of fasting over the years but that was all; I never went deeper than that. I often marveled at those who were able to fast for even a day, let alone 10. At this point in my life, I was inspired to do it. I have always had an on-again, off-again relationship with food and wanted to change my paradigm. I can’t thank my friend enough for the seed she planted to do this. Midway in, I was so excited to not have to think about food and all the choices of what to eat, how much and when. I drank my special water throughout the day, had my favorite green tea and more water. Day by day the mental layers of my perception of food were peeling away. Food was losing control and power. I gained clarity about what I really needed to sustain me.
I felt so good after 10 days that I opted to keep going for another 10 days. All in all, I fasted for 23 days—by far one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I still went to restaurants with my family and friends. I drank my juice and enjoyed the conversation. I wasn’t temped, even a little, to have food. I was so enthralled with my commitment to viewing food and eating (or not) in a whole new way that there was no getting off course. I saw how much excess was always around. I drove by grocery stores and restaurants thinking how much food was available—and how little we really needed to survive.
The best things I gained from this experience included not just the weight I lost (which felt great, of course), but insights and profound images of the person I wanted to be. One of the biggest is the ability to “let go.” What is it we really need? And how much? Freeing our minds and bodies of limitations or excesses is a liberating start.
The company we keep, especially around eating food, becomes more vivid. What is revealed in our relationships when food is not the focal point? More time is available when we are not consumed with having to think about the grocery list, what we’re going to eat, when and how much. This free time can be filled with more engagement in our activities.
Physical shifts are not the only ways to fast. Mental fasting can be equally freeing. What excesses are you hanging on to? What can you let go of at least through the holidays? How you see others? Situations? Yourself? A temporary commitment to take a break from “life as usual” can bring about unexpected views.
Mental freedom from the anxiousness that would prohibit you from being fully engaged in the moment of relating to others. When this happens you see a different view of yourself, too. So think about taking a mental fast for 10 days. Before you begin, write down what you want to experience differently this winter season. This will be your backup and point of reference when you are “tempted” to steer off course. The goal is to be a better version of yourself—the best version! You will feel lighter and more vibrant, have more mental clarity and, if nothing else, you will have the discipline of challenging yourself to see life and others differently. Happy, healthy fasting!
Matthew 6:17–18 (NIV) – But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.