Water Fasting – The Aftermath

The Best Food in Ueno

My 28 day fasting experiment went very well. Much better than I could have expected. And after it was all over with I realized I could have kept the whole thing going for much longer.

The Final Week

The last week of the fast held no surprises, and went quickly. Energy was at a constant, even level, and there was absolutely no desire to eat. It seems the body had adjusted to no real food intake, and was able to easily deal with the physical end of fasting.

When it came time to actually start eating again, I felt I could continue fasting for at least a few more weeks with no ill effects. But the only way to know would be to fast for those weeks to find out.

I decided 28 days were enough for the purposes of this experiment.

Calories During the Fast

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but this was not a true ‘water’ fast. I did drink other liquids during those 28 days, mostly to take in more vitamins and minerals.

I discovered, after a few weeks of fasting, that taking vitamin and mineral tablets made me nauseous. In order to take in necessary nutrients, I devised my own concoctions to try and take care of any deficiencies. It seems to have turned out well.

My calorie intake – beyond the first ten days – was 500 calories or less per day. So, not a true ‘water fast,’ but close enough for my needs.

The Re-Introduction of Food

The first thing I did on March 1st was eat.  By the time I was ready for the first bite of the first meal, salivation was off the charts. It was very interesting as an experience. I ate various kinds of sushi for my first meal, and felt fine. No trouble in digestion, and no feeling of excessive fullness.

But as the days passed, and the eating continued, I noticed a general feeling of discomfort. This feeling did not seem to be related to any particular meals, so I could not trace it to a specific episode of over-feeding.

This discomfort continued, and would not seem to let up, so I went back to fasting for a day or two every week to make a note of the effects. This seemed to completely eliminate the discomfort of everyday eating, and sharply brought things back into ‘normal’ functioning.

Intermittent Fasting

I now follow a schedule of intermittent fasting. Three days per week are fasting days, and the other four are ‘eat’ days. I have experimented with different schedules and currently fast on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. On the other four days, I eat between the hours of 12-8 PM. This schedule seems to work best for now, but I continue to remain flexible.

I feel physically more comfortable eating in this way. I just do not see the necessity of eating everyday.

Energy Levels

Heightened energy levels returned rather quickly. But the impulse to return to ‘regular’ life waned for several days after the fast was completed. I didn’t leave the house, did not post much of anything to this website, and generally did not participate in anything other than breathing.

I sat with this for some time and found that there was no desire to return to anything, because there was nothing to return to. Even though the memories of life before the fast still floated around, they could not influence Takuin to ‘go back’ to something that no longer exists.

Each new day became the only day. With no past or no future. This is nothing particularly ground breaking for Takuin, but fasting placed a kind of exclamation point at the end of it.

The physical body is the embodiment of liberation; it is constantly in a state of aliveness. But humans fall into trouble by trying to wrangle this living body with dead, stagnant ideas and concepts. Trying to force life through death, so to speak.

This body, and all of the functions it houses, may be the only teacher one ever needs.

Were There Any Spiritual Benefits?

Many people wish to fast in order to force some kind of ‘spiritual experience.’ They say that fasting does this or that, or you can gain some insight or freedom by fasting. This is very true in a physical sense. But as far as liberation or oneness – or whatever you call it – is concerned, I could find nothing there. Liberation has more to do with your interference with life, and not abstaining from this or that.

As I sit and type these words, there is no more or less of anything in awareness. Can there be a more or less of anything?

Physical Changes

There were great physical changes in this body during the course of the fast. I lost a total of 32.56 lbs (or 14.8 kg), but never once did I feel any danger or weakness. However, I was not able to measure how much of the weight lost was water, fat, or lean mass.

Some friends have told me I seem to be taller now. And although it is not really true, I wonder what might cause them to see me in that way? I was never much of a sloucher to begin with. But if there is a downside to all of this weight loss, it is the need for a new wardrobe.

When I started to eat again, I re-gained about 12 lbs. But after the first week, the weight started to come back down again. By my calculations, if things continue as they are, I will normalize at my post-fast weight in another week to ten days.

Detoxification

I am sure that there must have been a detox effect, but there was no real way for me to measure it. All I can mention are the outward physical effects of fasting on the body. And those effects seemed to have been in line with what most people have already reported. The chills, dragon breath, diarrhea, loss of focus, light headed-ness, increased need for sleep, and so on, were all experienced at some point of the fast, but none of them were on-going. They all seemed to dissipate after the first ten days or so.

Healing

There are numerous reports or claims of how fasting helps with the healing process. The logic behind those claims seems sound, but it is not at all what I have experienced. What I experienced was far more interesting.

I noticed no effects of ‘healing’ or ‘normalization’ UNTIL I re-introduced food. The fast, on its own, did not seem to do much of anything in that respect, but I noticed some interesting changes after I started to eat. For example, clearer skin, and faster wound healing (scab formation and so on) were noticeable changes for me.

The most interesting change was a small wart I had on the pinkie of my right hand. Before and during the fast it never changed in size and was very hard. But after I began eating again, it became very soft within a day or two and is now almost completely gone.

So it may be a combination of food and fasting that brings about a greater result in the healing process. But I really cannot say for certain.

In the End

Everything turned out wonderfully with this little experiment, and apart from the first week, I loved it. It has certainly altered the way I interact with food on a daily (and weekly) basis.

Unfortunately, I could find nothing I was curious to see. No real difference in the functioning of the mind, and no deeper spiritual significance. But it was very well worth doing.

In the future, I may perform another month long experiment on a different subject. I am now intrigued by the idea.

Any suggestions?

24 thoughts on “Water Fasting – The Aftermath”

  1. I have randomly come across your blog and read through your fasting journey. You have inspired me to finally go through with a prolonged fast- something that I have been wanting to attempt! Although every body is different, I feel that after reading through your summaries I know what to generally expect- and to not give up! Thank you!

  2. An experiment with fasting brings to mind another experiment bodily in nature. Sleep deprivation.

    It could be interesting indeed.

    Your journey, for lack of a better word, has made solid my own decision to give fasting a go.

    I’m thinking of starting with a two day minimum and going from there, with a maximum of a week, unless I feel the utmost desire to continue.

    Thank you for your words. We all have thoughts of great meaning, though few put them on paper, and even fewer for any and all to see. I thank you for being one such person, sharing that most personal side of yourself, for it is beautiful.

    1. Thanks for your words…

      Read what you can, but just know that regardless of what other people say will happen, you’ll have to go there to find out what is real.

      I am contemplating other experiments such as this for the near future. Not fasting, but something quite different. But I still have not decided anything yet.

      Thanks again for your kind words.

      1. Reading here, your journey, your works.

        Somehow, I began using the right hemisphere of my brain in a dominate fashion for a few hours. I felt as if I were seeing with the utmost of clarity, through my minds eye, my third eye. I began speaking in metaphors and words I hadn’t used in a long while.

        You, whether you are aware of it or not, use words in their truest forms.

        Most of us, if not all of us, do not speak in these ways, as we would confuse the masses; so, we dumb it down. We use lesser wordings, and our accuracy suffers.

        Let your aim be true, my friend, for it defines and reveals the beauty of the mind, of the language.

        If you were wondering, I seek to fast because I am one obsessed with survival in the wild, and living off the land, and my body in its current state is absurdly inefficient.

        I need to know I can handle the mental portion of being without food for indefinite periods, and I may end up eating much as you do, fasting three days a week.

        This one wishes to break from that which Society has become.

        My words are not kind, my friend, they are truth; you need not thank me for that.

        1. Whatever you decide to do, you should be fine. Especially with an alternate day fast (or rather three days per week). It is not as difficult as people may make it out to be.

          But pay attention to what is going on within you. You may find that three days are not necessary, or that it suits you better to do two days back to back with one day later in the week.

          The only way you’ll know for sure is to do it and see what happens. Who knows? In the end you may discover, it was not necessary at all.

          This one wishes to break from that which Society has become.

          That is easy enough to do. Just remember that society is the way it is, in part, because of what you have and have not done. So will you forcefully reject it, ridicule it, and walk away? Or can you, seeing it clearly and ending the self’s association with it, step out of those old habitual patterns and live in such a way that brings peace to those still stuck? (If peace is the right word here.)

          Society is constantly changing, much in the way the Earth slowly turns around the Sun. It morphs and transforms continually, but the underlying problems – the root motions – still remain. So we might ask, Is it possible to live life not adding to the turmoil and distress? And is it necessary at all to ‘remove’ ourselves from it?

          Not that you have or will do any of these things. But these may be important things to consider for all of us.

          1. Simply, I wish to live as those who have come before. Waking to live, to survive. I do not wish to wake to attend to the matters of those above me, or to deal with those below me, I do not wish to be above or below.

            Purchasing land, living in the utmost of harmony with it. Growing crops of our own, using solar paneling, spending time with the forest.

            I wish for my impact on the world to be a positive one, and I would allow those with similar interests to join me.

            Perhaps such a movement, if you can really call it that, would benefit the world somehow.

            In reality, however, it would benefit myself. To live the life that one dreams of is one of the greatest successes this one can imagine.

  3. Basically, I think I mean, how do these externals like food and work, effect us and awakening and the awakened?

    Uzma,

    You will never know. In other words, if one looks at it from the outside – looking at someone they believe to be awakened – all they can do is imagine what is going on, what is happening, or what may have lead to that state.

    They can take stock of all the external items that may seem to lead to one state or another and that is about it.

    If you break through everything that ‘you’ are, and get to the end-point, so to speak, you will never know what might have brought it about. And even if you could point to a specific happening, there is still no way to be sure.

    So these externals like food and work have no effect. Rather, it is your interpretation of them that keeps you down.

  4. Hi Uzma
    You may find kindness is easier if you avoid taking it personally. Whatever comes up is what it is. It is taking it personally that causes grief.

    It’s a funny thing. The person feels this need to do the right thing and avoid the wrong, lest we be damned. But Joy and Love and Oneness have nothing to do with right and wrong. One lets go of any idea of limitation, then they are found in the boundless. Only the mind wants to figure everything out. Your purpose is to be as you are now. To experience the world as you do. Follow your heart and the externals take care of themselves.

  5. Yup, Takuin
    I see the difference. I have a memory of the Oneness in the past.
    Am sitting with ‘this’ for now :-)

    Just leaving it at that.

    Kindess matters, in thought, word , deed and being. Am trying very hard to be kind. Even in the face of unkindness. Just see it as what it is, and let it be.

    The interesting thing is , this eating debate, is in some way, about the paths, and actual mode of practical life, one must lead, to come to a place of Joy and Love and Oneness.

    What we eat, is an easy part to figure out. What about what we do, job, etc.
    Davidya talk about a lot of things like this in his recent posts. Limitations to overcome.
    Question to Takuin, how has awakening, effected your work(job). Does one try to find meaning in everything, find purpose, like guru’s say .
    Basically, I think I mean, how do these externals like food and work, effect us and awakening and the awakened.

  6. Uzma and Davidya,

    Nice conversation you are having…I won’t intrude.

    I will add that this ‘thing’ has nothing to do with what you want or what you may have had in the past (there is really no difference between the two anyway). You can only sit with what you have, and not what you want or might have had.

    I have felt all Oneness and no distinction or difference. No me, or you. But that was a long time ago. It faded.

    So it was a long time ago. Is it anything more than a memory? An imagining? You may think it is more, because it is something meaningful to you. But you cannot have that.

    You can have THIS, but not that. Do you see the difference?

  7. Dave,

    Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments. It took me awhile to get to this wrap-up because I wanted to have a chance to return to food and take note of the effects.

    You have a nice resource on fasting, by the way.

  8. Uzma,

    My question basically is, does ‘awareness’, or liberation, etc have anything to do with eating non-vegetarian food, meat, fish etc or not?

    It really has nothing to do with any of that. There may be truth that food affects how the organism functions, and these changes may come apparent over time (such as excessive fat gain, and various other ailments brought on by our own behaviors).

    Food can also make you dull, slow, and stupid, in a way. This is in relation to the functioning of thought and those mechanisms. But the liberation you speak of is beyond all of that.

    Logic being there is no harm done to any living being, hence peace and easier connection with spiritual aims of spreading Love and Joy. (I think you know what I mean)

    I understand the ‘logic’ behind this, but those same logical people may easily kill their neighbors with a thought, or with a word. And even though one might not eat animals, there is still the violence inherent in the desire for more; more freedom, more peace, or more liberation.

    Not that any of this is bad, you understand. And not that it is right or wrong. But if you are going to stop eating animals, do it because of your relationship with them, and not because you want to get something out of it.

  9. The answers are the mind. It knows things and compares experiences with what it knows. But it cannot see outside itself. It is not the solution. It does not wake up. The Self wakes up to Itself. For a person, it is not about waking or the right concept, it is about getting our of the way, about allowing what is to be as it is.

    I found that’s a lot easier around or listening to others who are awake. Then you can step into a conversation with Self itself.

    For many people it is a process of immersion with the occasional clear spots where we have a big experience. The immersion helps pave the way, to allow oneself to become that.

    And remember – that Oneness experience is only a taste. When you come to is as being, it will be much fuller. Don’t hold onto the experience as “how it is” – that’s a barrier.

  10. My ‘i’ fights back very hard, and very often.

    Who is asking? Takuin mentions the same thing. A name, a being, energy. I have felt all Oneness and no distinction or difference. No me, or you. But that was a long time ago. It faded.

  11. Yeah. That is my ultimate problem. I know the answers, have been in, seen, experiences ‘awareness’, and then I seem to forget it all and get back to the struggle. I dunno why that is. I’ve just come to the conclusion I need to meditate more…Any suggestions

  12. You’re welcome. Ah, great. My prior doc returned to India.
    I’m Vata/Pitta. Dr. Lad has a great intro book. His website has some external resources.

    Interesting – you describe a path then ask how to get there. Just remember that there is nowhere to go. It’s right here and now. It is within, under the question that asks. It is who is asking.

  13. Thanks Davidya. I live in India so finding Ayurvedic centres is no problem at all. :-)

    Thank you for all your advise and suggestions. Truly very kind of you.
    I am vata, air, wind. So I’ll just have to figure out what works for me.

    And I totally agree. When you find your centre, and just give the love and compassion , that you truly are. That is enough.

    Now, how to get there. or to uncover this true nature, is another question.

  14. Hi Uzma
    Ayerveda talks about body types. Some types can fast for long periods, but Vata types tend to get spacey, etc like Steve because fasting is vata. I’m the same way – so I fast 3-4 days. Was once put on a veggie juice fast for several weeks to clear issues from working in a very polluted office. But this included a light dinner. So I find it useful to know your type before you make diet and related choices. Much easier to tune to your needs and keep life in balance then. Especially if you are choosing a more potentially limited diet like raw or vegan.

    Aside from the fact that it cleared up my issues, i like ayerveda because it’s very balanced. Basically life is meant to be enjoyed, so if sometimes you overdo, here is the antidote. They don’t recommend red meat except occasionally. But if you do indulge, you want to increase the digestive fire to cope with it, so add something like pepper or ginger.

    As for a spiritual connection with diet, the reasons I’ve seen for going veggie vary by the person. Some for political reasons. Some for ethical reasons like you mention. Some on consideration of body as temple. And many because they simply come to find meat heavy. When the digestive system is busy digesting heavy food, you may not experience with as much clarity. If inner clarity is important on your path, you may shift to a lighter diet.

    But at a certain point, that inner connection becomes more solid, so is less influenced by things like diet. Experiencing greater energy depends again on body type. I know a couple of people who eat heavy foods to ground. They have the reverse issue. Then there’s the saints who eat meat, smoke like a chimney, curse, and so forth. So it’s a very personal choice.

    Does diet have anything to do with liberation? No. Liberation is in your relationship with source. If you find what you eat affects your clarity, you may find tuning the diet useful. But liberation has nothing to do with being pure and perfect. At least in my experience (laughs)

    As for spreading love and joy, how you take care of yourself can influence that prior to liberation. But when you become love and joy, you will spread it just by being. In fact, you already are. Part of liberation is discovering what’s actually going on. (laughs)

  15. Hey
    Just a random question, inspired by your raw food comment.
    Do you think the food one eats, raw, non-vegetarian etc, has anything to do at all with one’s level of energy. Steve Pavlina says he feels more creative , purposeful, joyful, etc when he eats raw food. More connected to Oneness,I think is what he means.
    My question basically is, does ‘awareness’, or liberation, etc have anything to do with eating non-vegetarian food, meat, fish etc or not? Logic being there is no harm done to any living being, hence peace and easier connection with spiritual aims of spreading Love and Joy. (I think you know what I mean)
    Please share your thoughts. Would be interesting.
    Oh and Steve Pavlina did try a juice fast. He gave it up though. It didn’t suit him, as it made him flighty and emotional.I thought that would be interesting to share. :-)

  16. Davidya,

    It could very well be a cooked vs. raw issue. And honestly, that is something I did not consider at all. Great, now I have to do another 28 days to find out ! :)

    As for another month long experiment, I have no immediate ideas, but it would have to be something ‘appropriate’ for the site. I thought the reason behind the fast was good enough to be explored. I am very interested in European stationery right now, but it hardly makes for a riveting blog post. Haha…

    But part of your sentence – …a new practice or new activity would seem to be called for… – gets my mind moving in interesting directions.

  17. Thanks for the summary, Takuin. I recently read Steve Pavlinas report of shifting from Vegan to a raw food diet. It could be that after such a fast, the body would be more interested in uncooked foods more?

    As for other month long experiments, a new practice or new activity would seem to be called for. That would depend on what Takuin feels called to do. (laughs)

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