Monday, June 30, 2008

The Gift of Goodbye

Often when one even thinks about the idea of fasting, apprehension descends like autumn nightfall. Many of us have spent so much time cultivating an intimate or oppositional relationship with food, that the idea of letting go, even for a day, is too terrifying to contemplate.

Below is a poem that I first heard while on a seven-day silent meditation retreat. It spoke to those contracted places inside of myself where I hold on, often for dear life, to things, attitudes and positions that I know are no longer serving me. Hearing this poem gave me courage and wings.


It is a good word, rolling off the tongue
no matter what language you were born with,
Use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words

Fasting with Heart Disease

Thomas Ryan, answers the question, "Can I fast with heart disease?"

"The United States holds the record: we lead the world in heart and artery problems. Every second of the day someone is dying of a heart attack. Heart trouble is one of the scourges of western civilization. Yet diseases of the heart do not build up rapidly. It takes a long time to harden and block and artery. There are many contributing causes: cholesterol, fats and fibrous tissues are responsible for the blocking and obstructing of the arteries; lack of exercise and stress also contribute to arterial degeneration. As the inner passage of the arteries becomes so narrow that not enough blood can flow thorough to properly nourish the heart muscle, coronary occlusion occurs. We are all as old as our arteries. Inasmuch as fasting cleanses internal impurities, it is preventative and restorative healthcare."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fasting in the Christian faith

"Fasting is not an end in itself; it is a means by which we can worship the Lord and submit ourselves in humility to him. We don't make God love us any more than He already does if we fast, or if we fast longer. Fasting invites God into the problem. Then in the strength of God, victory is possible."
-Elmer L. Towns

Being fed by more than food

"Fasting reminds us that we are sustained 'by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4) Food does not sustain us; God sustains us."  -Richard J. Foster

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fasting and Exercise

While kickboxing and spinning classes might go over well just before a breakfast of steelcut oatmeal and berries, a fasting body needs as much physical rest as it can get. The physiological work and repair that happens during the fasting detox, requires an enormous amount of energy that we want to reserve entirely for that purpose. It is however recommended that while fasting we do exercises that facilitate this process. These include walking, yoga, light swimming and breath work. As a yogini, I can attest to the very powerful detox benefits of yoga and breath work, not only physical but also spiritual and mental. 

The breath is the vehicle upon which our life force enters the body, so that when the breath is shallow, our thoughts and actions are shallow. When the breath is labored our thoughts and life are labored. More than anything, while fasting (and even on non-fasting days), I encourage you to notice the breath and breathe with intention. At every moment you can remember, drop in on the breath to see how it’s doing. Follow the inhale to a completely ballooned belly, brining in strength, health, energy, faith and peace. Exhale until the navel meets the spine, letting go of disease, fear, weakness, fatigue and tension. 

Attending to the breath will still agitating thoughts. When left unattended, these thoughts create agitation in the body, which often causes us to feel empty or “hungry” and so we attempt to fill that emptiness with food. Typically the types of food we choose when we are in this mindset are high in salt or sugar because these nutrients, when refined or in excess, act in the same way as drugs, changing the chemistry of the body, creating a diversion from feelings. Catch yourself breathing and you will be able to see more clearly the trajectory of your thinking. When we can see where our thoughts are headed it is easier to get in front of them and change their direction.

Yoga, on the other hand, twists and bends the body in order to allow for better circulation and flow of oxygen. It also wrings the organs and helps jumpstart sluggish glandular systems. The practice of yoga also incorporates breath, which stimulates the body’s ability to relax. A relaxed body is one that is more prepared to take on the task of cleansing and healing.

Be good to your body. Be Good to yourself. Breathe.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Connection Between Fasting and Slowed Aging

(MORE Model Joyce Larkin - 42 and Emanuelle 16 mo.)

It makes perfect sense when I think about it. The thing we make note of most often when someone looses even a small amount of weight is how much younger they look. The basic theory and math is, the more calories you take in (especially empty calories that don't contribute their fair share of helpful nutrients) the more work the cells have to do in processing the waste associated with these calories. When it becomes too much work for the cell, wastes begin to accumulate inside the cell, breaking it down and causing cell damage.

This excessive and often toxic overload of substances causes the cell to age and as we learned in basic biology, the body is made of – at its most basic level - nothing but cells. When the cells age, the body ages. This accumulation of waste in the cells is a progressive process which is why it seems that collectively, most people begin looking older at a certain age. We eat the same foods as a nation and so we age at approximately the same rate.

When we fast, not only do we ease the burden the cells bear in the accumulation of so much waste, but with the newly available energy transferred from the digestion process, the body can begin to repair and rejuvenate worn cells; extending cellular life. Extending our life.

Eden Kitchen: Jicama Sticks (raw recipe)

After this, you'll never miss french fries again!

Jicama Sticks

Yield: 2 servings

1 jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional: not a raw product)

1 teaspoon chili powder (*see quick recipe below) or a chili powder of your chioce

1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

Combine all ingredients, toss well, serve.

*Chili Powder Recipe

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Use as needed. Store in a cool dry place.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The critical need for study and intuition

Many American’s believe that products advertising themselves as “low-fat,” are healthier food selections than ones that do not. But despite the proliferation of low-fat offerings in grocery stores across the nation, Americans are increasingly fatter, sicker and experiencing significant decreases in Whole Life health.

Here is the problem in nutshell; America’s rich diet, heavily loaded with animal products, pre-packaged, over-processed and hyper sweetened foods, is so exorbitantly high in fat and empty calories that bringing the fat content down by ten, twenty or even thirty percent, still leaves us in the range of too much fat in the diet to achieve optimum health.

This misguided track also has the added psychological effect of allowing people to feel better about eating “low-fat” food, which inclines them to have a just a little more, a little more often. The result is a sum total of zero benefit to the millions who make the low-fat choice. This leaves us in the position we find ourselves in today, wondering how we could be abiding by all of the rules and still be sick and overweight.

A great example would be the doctor who tells a three-pack-a-day smoker, “I can help you live a longer, healthier life. Instead of smoking three packs a day, simply smoke one.” At this point in our history, with all that we know about smoking, we know that this advice is nothing more than a delay of game. In accepting this misguided prescription, the smoker is still in danger of developing serious and even life threatening diseases. She will continue experience declining energy and the ill effects of so much damage to her circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems. The advice the doctor has given will pretty much ensure that her health never improves but in fact continues to decline until her habit finally kills her. Despite her doctor’s recommendation.

Rational Recommendations Vs. National Recommendations

If the lists below were food pyramids, the bottom levels being foods we should consume in greatest quantity, we can see the vast difference between what the Federal Government recommends compared to what is recommended by doctors and scientists who have studied the disastrous effects, including chronic disease and premature aging, of over feeding and rich, high fat diets.

Rational (Healthy) Recommendations:

No more than 4 times per month

No more than 4 times per week
Low-Fat Dairy

1-2 servings daily or 5%-20% of daily calories
Beans, other legumes, nuts and seeds

2-4 Servings daily or 15%-30% of daily calories
Whole grains, Brown rice, Bulgar, Quinoa

6-10 servings daily or 30%-60% of daily calories
Vegetables – ½ raw and ½ cooked including:
Lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, string beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and many more

National USDA Recommendations

Use sparingly
Fats, oils, sweets

2-3 Servings daily
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts

2-4 servings daily
Vegetables, fruits

6-11 servings daily
Breads, cereals, rice, pasta

Even if everything we see and hear about food choices confuses us, we can trust what we know to be true; more Americans need healthcare than have it, more drugs are being created now than ever in the history of the United States, more women are dying of heart disease and cancer than of any other causes and more children have diabetes, autoimmune diseases and nervous system maladies than is conceivable for a nation of our wealth and resources. If food is our fuel, then it stands to reason that our current approach to energy and wellness is woefully insufficient and even counter-productive.

It is critical that we study more closely the effects of what we take into our bodies and the impact it is having on every aspect of our lives; physical, mental and spiritual.

Pamela Serure writes in her book “The Three Day Energy Fast,” “The whole key to personal transformation starts on a cellular level. It’s about rejuvenation of your cells. When we clean out and rebuild our cells they give us new messages. New cells have new meaning. New cells have new stories to tell. New cells don’t follow the same old programming.”

If we are to refashion ourselves from the inside out, we must first begin with the cells. By fasting and minding what eat, we can allow for healing of old ills and a rebuilding which rests on a foundation that can create and sustain optimum health.

Rumi on Fasting

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomh’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and the belly are burning clean with fasting,
every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy
makes you run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink
an ugly metal statue sits where your spirit should.
When you fast, good habits gather
like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it
to some illusion and lose your power.
But even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast,
like soldiers appearing our of the ground,
pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Jesus’ table.
Expect to see it when you fast, this table
spread with food, better than the broth of cabbages.

-Rumi, Enlightened Sufi Scholar and Teacher

Saturday, June 21, 2008

FastGirls Feature Food: Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris cicla) is salty, cooling and alkaline in nature. This green is a good source of calcium, beta-carotene. vitamin C, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and iron. It is a digestive aid and beneficial for people suffering from a cold. When selecting, look for brightly colored, firm leaves.

Note: Swiss chard contains oxalic acid, which can inhibit the absorbtion of calcium and iron, and so should be consumed only in moderation, especially if cooked.

If anyone has any suggestions on great ways to prepare Swiss chard, please share.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Study Shows Milk Claims False

According to an article published in Reuters recent claims that low-fat dairy products or calcium can help people lose weight are untrue, according to a review of the published scientific literature, which shows that neither dairy products in general nor calcium intake promote weight loss...

Dr. Amy Joy Lanou, an assistant professor in the department of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina in Asheville "Milk is a food that is designed for helping small mammals grow into rather large ones in a relatively short period of time," she explained. "It is counterintuitive to think that a food that has lots of calories, fats, and protein would be helpful for weight loss."

Tips for breaking the fast

How you break your fast has a major effect on the benefits you receive.
When on a fast, the digestive system slows down, redirecting all energy to the tasks of restoration and healing.

The FastGirls 24 hour fast should be broken with only fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is the best way to get all of the collected toxins and waste out of the body. If you eat rich heavy foods after a fast, the bodies processing mechanism will not be prepared to handle it. Your digestive system will not move solid food until it starts functioning again. It has been busy tidying and Spring cleaning.

Below are a few tips for breaking the FastGirls 24 hour fast:

- Absolutely NO animal products or dairy on the day following the fast

- No sugared juices, soda, coffee or alcohol

A few good choices:

- Citrus fruits are always best (oranges and grapefruit)

- Grapes

- Non-sugared juices (100% apple and grape juices are easy to find)

Eat and Drink everything at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gaining Peace Through the Food We Eat

While fasting is a practice we undertake in order to spring clean our bodies, spirits and minds, much of that hard fought work can unfortunately be undone if we are not mindful of what we take into the body on the days we are eating. Failing to be mindful of what we put into our bodies also makes the fast day more difficult as the body must begin again its attempts to rid the body of too much sugar, stimulants and waste associated with eating “dead”, processed or otherwise unhealthy food. This makes the period of withdrawal that many of us experience during the fast even more difficult to deal with.

According to Queen Afua, author of the book Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind and Spirit, there is another serious side affect to eating what she calls “a violent, toxic diet.”

She writes, “Food is our fuel. What and how we eat determines the effectiveness of our lives. There are natural food alternatives, so we don’t have to feel deprived. We can simply make better choices."

Here are some of the symptoms, according to Queen Afua, of eating a violent, toxic diet:

· Women verbally abusive to men
· Men physically abusive to women
· Stressed out parents unable to talk to children, using blows instead
· Gossiping
· Inability to let go of resentment, depression and worry
· Abusive, animalistic, or uncontrollable sexuality

In looking at my fasting/eating experience I can attest to a significant difference in my relationships and interactions with people. Since beginning fasting/mindful eating practice, it is easier to see how what I put into my body affects my thinking, feelings and behavior.

Here is a great Eden Kitchen recipe you can try. It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare and easy to take to work.

Garden Vegetable Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks)
2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
Kosher salt
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

*You can always substitute these vegetable for whatever is in your refrigerator. Enjoy!

Patience for the Journey

"May your heart know the patience
That can draw infinity from limitation"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gratitude: A Beautiful Diversion

This might be one of the biggest challenges early on for many of us who still have the job of shopping and preparing or buying meals for our loved ones. It is also an amazing opportunity to be with desire and wanting - so near that you could actually taste it - yet refrain. It is a critical part of the practice that teaches unparalleled discipline.

What we focus on expands.

Because this is true, I realized quite quickly that I would need to set my intention and stay focused in a particular direction in order to get through the meal preparation and serving without breakingmy fast. For me, this meant occupying my thoughts with gratitude. While I chopped, sauted, poured and whisked, I kept my thoughts on how grateful I was to be able to provide a healthy meal for my family. I was grateful for my ability to cook and that my heart is so willing to do it. I was grateful that I could make a choice to abstain from eating because so many people don't have that opportunity; they do not eat because they cannot eat. On my fast day I also take my family's mealtime as an opportunity to thank God for my mother and all of the skills she passed on to me that I can now pass on to my children. I stay focused on how grateful I am that she taught me the importance of being able to feed my husband and the value of that act in my endeavor to keep him healthy and happy.

For me, taking this approach has made the unavoidable job of cooking while fasting, a kind of meditation and a grateful prayer. For those of us who have no other option, gratitude is a beautiful diversion.

A Blessing For New Beginnings

Because beginnings take place with each new breath, I send this to you all. I wish you well in the hours ahead and offer you this blessing.

For New Beginnings

In out of the way places of the heart,
Where your thought never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside of you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety,
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plentitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear,
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul sense that the world awaits you.

- John O’Donohue, “To Bless This Space Between Us”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Physiology of Fasting: How Conscious Abstention From Eating and Drinking Restores Health

A true fasting state begins in the first twelve to twenty-four hours after your last meal. This is considered the starting mark chemically; as it is the point in the metabolism process when the body begins to burn its carbohydrate stores (fat) as an energy source. This process is known as ketosis. Human fat is valued at 3,500 calories per pound; enough calories to allow the body to continue functioning normally when burning only one pound per day. We lose weight when fasting for this reason; the body eats up the fat as its energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are available for energy.

Once the body has depleted these stores it begins to burn protein (muscle) in an effort to keep itself alive. This stage of using the body’s protein and muscle for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) is the beginning of starvation. This would typically take 40 to 60 days depending upon the weight of the individual. Much longer than any fast we would be considering for our purposes.

The healing process is also accelerated when we fast. This happens because the energy that had been used in digesting, metabolizing and eliminating waste from the food we eat, is re-directed and begins to perform a kind of internal housecleaning. One that is not possible when the body has spent all of its energy processing the “foods” that are typically consumed in the Standard American Diet. This re-direction of energy causes many healing and repairing processes to begin, including immunity booting cell, tissue and organ repair. The blood supply is also nourished, allowing for improved blood flow and pressure.

Dr. Joel Furman, a regular practitioner of fasting who prescribes it to nearly all of his patients with astounding results writes, “The body can heal itself when the proper environment for healing is established and all obstacles to healing or stressors are removed... By supplying the organism [the body] with its basic requirements – natural, unadulterated food, clean water, and appropriate physical, mental and emotional activities – while simultaneously eliminating all harmful factors and influences, the self-constructing, self-regulating, self-repairing qualities of the body are given full rein. The same innate wisdom that constructed our bodies from two cells at conception is always there to restore the body to health if we let it.”

Listening for the Inner Music

There is an inner music that becomes evident to our ear when we begin fasting. It is the song of the teacher, friend and love within. Don Gerard talks about the resonant effect this music has on our lives beyond the fast days.

"I have discovered that I can listen to this inner music, learn to interpret its language and literally be tutored by my own body on what to eat so that I feel good all the time. Once I’ve achieved what my body (not my head) tells me is my ideal food intake, I can happily maintain that state of health, contentment, high level of functioning – and yes, my optimum weight – simply by continuing to listen to that same inner music each time I eat.

- Don Gerrard, "One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit"

The same applies not only to what we eat and how it affects our physical bodies but to what we think and how it informs our actions and spiritual lives. If we listen carefully, this inner music allows us to see our motivations clearly. It can help direct us into right action and a continuous state of grace.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What it takes - and gives - to fast

The act of fasting takes both unwavering courage and peaceful surrender. Like a new bud shows bravery as it springs forth into bloom, quietly submitting to make the journey in due season and on course, we must harvest enough courage to do what the body resists. And we must surrender enough to stay open to all that is revealed in those long and tangled hours.

Rev. Deborah L. Johnson writes a beautiful affirmation in “Living the Sacred Yes” about courage and surrender. It could prove a valuable reminder when the day stretches taut and the night creeps slowly by.

“Surrender is my embracing God’s infinite possibilities more than the finite facts. I remain open to the greater possibilities that I have yet to recognize. In letting go of my need to control, I enjoy how my journey divinely unfolds. I don’t have to now where I am gong to know that I am headed in the right direction. As the Yes of my soul reveals itself, I am headed straight towards Grace. I have the courage to stand where I am and take the next step ahead of me. I have the courage to keep walking in the direction of my surrender.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fasting in Islamic Religion and Culture

Fasting is integral to Islamic culture and religion. Like all of the other five pillars, fasting has both an internal and external dimension. As it relates to the internal dimension the Prophet Mohammad says, "Cultivate within yourselves the attributes of God." It is believed that those who do not eat, drink or have sexual intercourse during the Ramadan fasting period can strengthen themselves and cultivate the qualities of God - to become more truthful, less angry, more loving. It is also said that those who fast but do not observe moral behavior, are not truly fasting. "There are many," said Prophet Mohammad, "whose fasting is nothing beyond being hungry and thirsty."

Amazing Testimonies!

When asked, people list many benefits to their fasting practice, both physiological and spiritual. These responses came from people who fasted anywhere from 1 to 40 days on water alone. Below are some encouraging benefits:

- Detoxification of chemicals from food and environment

- Boosted immune system

- Rapid weight loss

- Balanced metabolism

- Soft, shiny hair

- Increased energy levels

- Less angry and more peaceful

- Relief from sinus problems

- No more caffeine or sugar cravings

- Increased discipline

- Clear skin

- Stopped smoking

- Relief from chronic depression

- Relief from psoriasis

- Relief from schizophrenia

- No more Fibroids

- Relief from endometriosis

- I'm kinder and less reactive

People from all walks of life and all parts of the world, testify that the practice that has saved and enhanced their lives.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Have we achieved our way into ill health?

Thomas Ryan takes a thought provoking position in his book "The Sacred Art of Fasting"

"Our unlimited freedom and resources have not brought us unlimited fulfillment. The time has come for the consumer society to generate its antithesis: the person who stands against the conditioned reflex, who is free not to consume, who chooses to fast because of the self-transcending meaning and values perceived."

What is your experience with this idea? Have we achieved and accessed our way into burdened lives and physical, mental, financial and spiritual dis-ease? Has the notion of being entitled to a thing, status or opportunity found you overloaded to the point that you can barely think or breathe?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Excatly what kind of fast is it?

The FastGirls weekly fast is a 24 hour Total Fast, defined as voluntary abstinence from all food or drink except water as long as the nutritional reserves of the body are adequate to sustain normal function. The fast begins at sunrise every Monday morning and continues through sunrise on Tuesday.

Dr. Joel Furman, M.D and author of the book "Fasting and Eating for Health" talks about the Total Fast versus other forms of nutritional modification:

Fasting is a state of relative physiological rest...Except for extremely rare instances where some form of medication may be indicated, it should be recognized that a Total Fast, with water only, is both the most effective and the safest way to fast.

Vitamins are not generally required because within the body's cells are adequate reserves of protein, fat, minerals and vitamins that can be called upon during period of famine, food scarcity, or fasting. Even in prolonged fasts (those lasting from 20 to 40 days) no deficiency diseases develop, illustrating that the body has the ability to utilize its stored reserves in highly exacting and balanced manner.

In some cases a liquid diet, such as fruit or vegetable juices, has been considered to be a fast. This may occasionally be appropriate for a person who requires relative bowel rest, whose health condition would make a fast inappropriate. One cannot, however, achieve the powerful benefits of Total Fasting if juices are part of the fast. Biochemically the body does not enter its "protein sparing" fasting state [while juicing]. In this state the body conserves its muscle reserves and fat is preferentially broken down.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Some Words of Encouragement.....

"Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. A wise person should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings." --Hippocrates, 400 years before Christ; famed Greek physician and Father of Western Medicine

"Fasting is the greatest remedy--the physician within!"--Philippus Paracelsus, nearly 500 years ago; famed Swiss physician and alchemical genius of the Middle Ages, considered one of three fathers of Western Medicine, along with Greece's Hippocrates and Galen

"Fasting is a valid experience. It can benefit any otherwise healthy person whose calories now have the upper hand in his or her life."--The New England Journal of Medicine

No healing technique on Earth enjoys greater testimonials. . .from veteran fasters such as Buddha, Moses, Mohammed and Christ (40 days); from the three great fathers of Western Medicine; from the ancient Arab philosopher and physician, Avicenna, who prescribed fasting for ailments; from the great Greeks from whom the West received its math and logic--Socrates, Plato (who often wrote he fasted for "greater mental and physical efficiency"), Aristotle and Pythagoras (who wouldn't even reveal his higher tenets to advanced students until they'd done 40-day fasts); right on down through St. Francis (who did 40-day "epiphany" fasts every year prior to Lent), Gandhi, and all the equally great and noble women, historically, whose fasts and accomplishments went unrecognized and unrecorded by the patriarchal societies they suffered in.

Artists, as well as humanity's greatest doctors, scientists and spiritual teachers, have fasted from time immemorial in every nation under the sun. Writers from Russian Leo Tolstoy and Frenchman Francois Voltaire, to American Upton Sinclair and the Austrian Czech Franz Kafka, have long rhapsodized about fasting's marvelous, self-improvement capabilities. Said Sinclair: "I have found a perfect health, a new state of existence, a feeling of purity and happiness, something unknown to humans." Enthused Tolstoy: "To refuse food and drink is more than a pleasure; it is the joy of the soul!"

Is it possible that all these extraordinary human beings have discovered an age-old secret for enhancing their birthright of human potential that you haven't. . .as yet?

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Not Eating, Now What?!

Below are a few helpful fasting day tips:

Power Down: Fast day is the perfect time to bring your hectic pace to a slower crawl. That means don’t make this your run-every-errand-I-can-think-of day or call-all-my-girlfriends-I-haven’t-spoken-to-in-years, day. Instead try to move as deliberately (read: slowly) and mindfully as possible. Whenever a free moment arises, rest in it. The body will be down a few notches in the energy category and the energy it does use will come from stores already in the system, which take work to retrieve. Be wise with your energy on the days you fast and know that you are doing a wonderful thing for your body, mind and spirit. You will reap the benefits in short order.

Get Creative: Fast day is a great time to take a look at your creative life. Maybe there are things you have been waiting to do, projects you have been meaning to begin but so many things have gotten in the way. This is the perfect opportunity to take out a pen and pad and write it out. Make a note of your ideas and goals and intentions for your life going forward.

Clean Up: While we’re clearing out the toxins in our system it can also be a great time to clear out the clutter in our lives. You could take this time to do some light organizing and tidying. Maybe filing away old bills, straightening out your clothes closet or organizing your desk. But be mindful of your energy level and don’t over do it.

Catch Yourself Breathing: When you feel your energy waning, or hear that voice in your head that says all of those nasty, negative things that voice always says, breathe. Inhale deeply through the nose bringing that Prana (life force) in with the breath. Push the air into the belly as if filling a balloon and then exhale, pulling the navel all the way back towards the spine, expelling any negative, energy, thoughts and toxins with it. This is sure to revive and refresh you. You will be amazed at how effective this is for staving off hunger and negative thinking.

Meditate: Take five to fifteen minutes – in the morning and evening if possible - and just sit. Quietly. Gracefully. Compassionately. Thankfully.

Go to Bed Early: The body will be undergoing much restoration and healing. These processes are greatly enhanced by any additional rest you allow yourself.

Read Religious or Spiritual Texts: Clearing things out inevitably means there is available space to plant something new. Sacred texts and anything that facilitates growth in our spiritual or religious practice can be sown in this newly fertile ground. I highly recommend this as a standard part of your fast day. If you are not particularly religious, read some beautiful poetry or go outside and listen to the sound of the birds. The energy of the One, can be found everywhere.

I wish you well and will be thinking of you.

In solidarity,


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Welcome to FastGirls

Fast Girls: A Community of women calling on the timeless tradition and wisdom of fasting to strengthen, mind, body and spirit.

Our weekly communal fast takes place from sunrise on Mondays to sunrise on Tuesdays.

Please note that FastGirls is not a dieting or weight management community. We believe that when undertaking any weight management program, there should be as much emphasis on the quality and quantity of what goes in the body as what does not. Although regular fasting may well have an obvious effect on your weight it is our mission to experience this practice as an opportunity to learn lessons about ourselves that go beyond the physical.

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