An Island of Peace Within The Chaos
I was standing in the middle of the noisily whirling foyer of the Chicago Shedd Aquarium leaning my back against the large hexagon shaped ticket counter. While my husband helped our guests process their discounted tickets, I watched droves of people whizz pass the tall neoclassical marble walls of the entrance hall.
Many were parents carrying diaper bags and jackets while maneuvering their strollers through the crowds, some were young couples holding hands as they made their way through the clusters of animated school children all wearing the same brightly colored t-shirts.
I’d usually be trying to cope with the bustling noise and movement, yet I was basking in my own serene world that extended from my torso.
My son, then just a few months old, was in deep sleep with his head against my chest, snuggly held by a carrier. I was waiting for him to be awakened by the noise from the crowds but he was unmoved. I’d look up at the scurrying groups of people and then look down just a few inches from my chin and kiss his placid and warm, sleeping face.
The high contrast of the two realities struck me then and there. My son and I were an island of calm in the midst of the commotion. If any of you have had a sleeping infant on your chest, you know what I mean.
This is the closest I can come to describing what happens when I go on a fast.
Creating An Inner Island Of Peace From Within
In a perfect world, I’d have a private jet carry me away for a few days to an isolated, sunny, quiet beach where I’d solely dine on coconuts and mangoes, swim in the ocean and not have one single conversation with another human being. Although that’s far from reality, I can experience my own oasis amidst the noise when I fast, just like that day at the aquarium.
Spring Cleaning From The Inside
I don’t know about you but as spring makes its arrival with warmer weather, I have the itch to do spring cleaning from the inside out. For the last 2 decades I have stumbled along in my attempts at fasting and tweaking what works with my body and the one consistent experience that I look forward to is the inner silence.
Heightened Focus And Calm
The silence is more grows with every fast and in the 9 day span that I commit to, it becomes apparent around day 2 or 3 and feels almost as if I’ve been submerged in water. The every day noises become muffled and distant and as I continue to go about my daily activities, (with the exception of limited food) I’m in a sort of bubble of sharp focus and calm, somehow away from those activities , yet still engaged in them.
Peaceful Fringe Time
The thoughts that arise are simpler and to the point in terms of handling whats in front of me. The best part in which I bask and relish the most, are the in-between moments that are noticeably silent. These moments which include waiting for my gas tank to fill at the station, watching the loading icon turn as I wait for my computer to startup or waiting my turn in a grocery line, are all clusters of moments in my day where my head usually churns with excess chatter. Yet during a fast, those same moments are still and undeniably restoring.
Consistently I find that my productivity goes up the roof and I accomplish more in those few days of fasting then I regularly would in a whole month, simply due to the clarity of my thinking. Don’t take my word for it, listen to this TED talk by professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University, Mark Mattson talk about how fasting boosts brain power by checking it out here.
I look forward to this semiannual habit of mine as an in-depth self care practice that restores and renews me in ways my smaller, daily self care practices cannot touch.
“What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.”
-Mahatma K. Gandhi
Although I cannot advise on how to begin a fast, I do encourage you to explore what fasting could look like in your life today. Could you skip dinner completely or replace it with a vegetable broth once a week and see how you feel?
Perhaps you could only eat fruits and nuts for half of a day once a month. Only you can know how best to meet your body where its at.
To explore how fasting could be an in depth self care practice in your life, check out the links below.
Here is a great beginners guide for fasting from Healthline.com
Here you’ll find a list of 13 resources that include products, books and links to more sites that specialize in fasting
Here is another great resource on getting started with your own fast
Have you ever tried a fast or contemplated it?
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Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!