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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.