Fasting is one of the secrets of long life. Your body, and your digestive organs in particular, are required to work and work without any vacation. You know that you require rest from your work or your school from time to time. In the same way, your digestive system needs a rest from time to time.
Periodic fasting provides the rest for your digestive system. It allows your digestive system to recuperate from the rough treatment that you may have given it by overeating or eating the wrong foods or eating at the wrong time.
In addition fasting also provides an opportunity to eliminate many toxins from your body. After fasting, you should take some lemon water with a bit of salt. This drink helps to flush the digestive system, eliminating waste material that might otherwise remain in the body if you didn't fast.
Fasting also helps you to keep a balanced mind inspite of the attraction of the moon on the fluids of your body. That is why our fasting system is timed in relation to the moon. The eleventh day after the new and full moons is the time when this attraction is very strong. If you fast during this period, then the emptiness of the stomach pulls down liquids that would otherwise rise up in your body under the attraction of the moon.
Finally fasting also gives you a chance to save some time and use that time for spiritual pursuits. In order to eat, you may have to spend time shopping, cooking, cleaning and of course eating. If you fast, you can use that time to do meditation, to read or some other valuable pursuit.
This system of yogic fasting has a duration from sunrise to sunrise. You begin at sunrise on the fasting day and eat nothing. If your body is strong you can also refrain from drinking anything. On the next day, you can break the fast with lemon water, as I have mentioned above, and then with fruit and other suitable food.
Voluntary fasting on certain days is called “upavása”. The derivative meaning of the word “upavása” is to remain in proximity to Iishvara; that is to say, to keep one’s mind absorbed in the thought of Iishvara. Those who have received initiation into Ananda Marga Iishvara Prańidhána must observe fasting compulsorily on all ekádashii days (the eleventh day after the new or full moon). Sannyásiis and renunciates must also fast on all púrńimá and amávasyá days.
On a fast day no food is to be eaten from sunrise until sunrise of the next day. Drinking water is also forbidden on fast days. If, due to unavoidable circumstances, a person is unable to fast on the prescribed day, then he or she must fast on either the preceding or the following day. During sickness, fasting is not required, but in such cases written permission will have to be obtained from the Dharma Pracára Secretary of the Saḿgha.
On and around the times of new and full moon, one may observe that the gaseous and aqueous factors in the body rise up into the head and chest, creating an uncomfortable feeling. Therefore, if a person does not take food at these times, these factors will be drawn down from the higher portions of the body to the lower portions, thereby alleviating the uncomfortable feeling.
The food that we take is converted, through transformation, into its final essence, called shukra. Shukra is the food of the brain. From it, the ectoplasmic particles of the unit mind are produced. If one fasts according to the system, no excess shukra will excite the lower vrttis of the mind, and the mind will be led toward the higher vrttis. Furthermore, as a result of fasting, the poisonous and unnecessary waste of the body gets destroyed and expelled. Moreover, the energy that is not expended in digesting food can be utilized for other purposes. Therefore, a fast day is an excellent time for sádhaná.
Articles related to fasting
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