Progress Thus Far
Everyone tells me they can't believe I have not eaten anything for the last 17 days. I can understand, but sitting here, there is nothing special about it. The longer I go without food, the easier it gets, in some strange way. As long as I take care in the day to day actions of this organism, it is all so simple.
I have missed many functions and events this month, and apart from one other person, I have only spent time with Akiko. I don't go out unless I have to, and since I need no food, I really don't have to.
I did plan for this in the beginning, however. I cleared the calendar, told everyone I would be "gone" for the month of February, and planned on eliminating all physical training.
I do go out for walks from time to time, but energy reserves are at a low, so I tend to avoid any unnecessary activity. I just can't risk wasting the energy at this point.
Even though all is well, there are a few annoyances due to the circumstances.
Almost Zero Productivity
If one really wants to accomplish something in the physical world, it is best not to attempt it during a water fast. Even though focus is clean and there is a sharp edge to thought, it is not easy to sustain after 17 days without food. Moment by moment is perfection (if I can use that ugly word!), but sustaining an effort for even menial tasks is hard to manage.
I have tested with several tasks, to see the effect it might have:
E-Mail or Letter Writing
The words do not come so easily in a fasted state. Well, that is not true; they do arrive in the same way, but the functioning is seemingly much slower and labored.
Before the fast it was rather easy to put together a letter from start to finish in no time at all. In the non-fasted state you can see nearly all the words in front of you. There is a logic to all of the paragraphs and it comes out quickly. You could say it is an ability to think ahead while writing in the present moment. Multi-tasking, really.
But in the fasted state, one must stay with each word. It is even difficult to think ahead in the same sentence, so forget about paragraphs! Each word has its space, and all must be carefully considered before they are used.
It is not that there is anything necessarily wrong with this, but a simple e-mail reply may take three sessions to get through to the end. Many times the focus will just not stay with you long enough to finish it all at once.
Thankfully, reading ability is largely unaffected. But it is probably best to stick with subjects that really hold your interest. Otherwise, you might very easily fall asleep.
And this is important for other reasons. It seems, during a prolonged fast, there is a tendency to move toward things that one naturally loves. I am guessing this is so because when one really loves to do something, there is less resistant energy involved. It can all be done with minimal effort.
If you have no idea what you really love to do, fasting might help you find out!
Guitar playing (for Takuin) is mostly unaffected. It is fun and there is no trouble with focus while playing. HOWEVER, it is very hard to learn something new. I don't mean playing new songs or using already well-known guitar techniques in a slightly different way. I mean, if you are really exploring the instrument, trying to learn something very new that you have not tried before, it is almost too difficult to manage in the fasted state.
This may be true of learning anything really new to you during a fast. You should probably just plan to learn nothing new if your fast is prolonged.
It seems the difficulty lies in the repetition of learning. It is hard to explain, but maintaining the necessary repetition to fully assimilate a physical skill is greatly affected. The focus needed during this part of the process falls away so easily. It is like mentally falling down a flight of stairs. Over and over again.
I'd hate to meet the chap trying to write a novel during a long fast. Poor soul.
The First Week
As I mentioned before, the first week was the worst. The body struggles to adapt, and all of the unpleasantness involved can be unsettling to many. If one is going to fail, it will probably happen during this time.
But around the 7th day or so, things begin to shift. The body and the mind settle down, and a new set of events begin. It is around this time that you will feel a rush of energy and get a sort of fasting second-wind.
The Second Week
This was odd. I did have a small bit of trouble with dehydration, but other than that, it was a great week. Even so, I began to repeatedly have images of food flash in my mind. It wasn't that "I" was hungry and thought about food, but thoughts of food arose.
I found myself watching dozens of food commercials on YouTube. Mostly on how to make certain kinds of dishes. But there were a lot of fast food commercials thrown in there too. It was strange; even with all of this activity, I was never hungry.
The Mystery of Meat
As many of you know, I have not eaten meat for about eight years now. And I have never regretted it or ever had a feeling that I am missing anything. But something interesting occurred...
First, Japan is not really a "vegetarian" country. It may sound strange to many of you, but it is true. I can easily eat here because I know it all so well. So I know where to go and what to avoid. (For a vegetarian, the best bet for lunch or dinner are Indian restaurants! You can always find something without meat.)
But if a vegetarian came here for vacation, without a guide, it is almost inevitable that they will eat meat at some point. Even "vegetable" options (like vegetable soup, or vegetable-this or vegetable-that) have meat in them. And this - many times - will NOT be indicated in the menu.
You're probably better off learning the Japanese language, or going to India. ;)
Anyway, there are many places where you can buy meat or chicken on a stick from various outdoor vendors. The smell is always lingering around the street where I live. So it was not a surprise for me to smell it everyday.
But toward the end of the second week, whenever I would smell the burned animal flesh, this organism had a strange reaction. It salivated heavily, the stomach grumbled, and there was this definite need for the body to eat meat. I could not understand it, but it was there.
This was interesting because it was not ME doing anything. I was not thinking, "Man, I would love to have a steak," or anything of the sort. It was all very carefully observed. There was no-one with a desire for meat, but this body wanted it. Craved it. It was some deep need I could not understand.
I am not saying that it is necessarily "natural" to eat meat, although I can see nothing "un-natural" about doing so. This may have been something else. If we think about it, this body has had absolutely no protein or fat for the last 17 days. Perhaps there is something to how this body perceives these things on its own.
(If you are wondering, I did not break the fast, and I am not planning on eating filet mignon on March 1st, either.)
In The End...
So far so good. Little annoyances aside, I see no reason to stop this fast. It seems, at this moment, I will take it all the way to the 28th.
And on March 1st, I'll be in a protein and fat induced coma.