Fasting: Spiritual Exercise

Fasting: spiritual exercise
Fasting is a practice that has been practiced since time immemorial in  almost all cultures. In the beginning, it was done for sacred reasons. People fasted collectively at certain times as a  tribute to  God or to receive some grace. Today, this spirit is maintained in religious traditions such as Catholic fasting and Muslim Ramadan.

Over time, it has been discovered that  fasting can provide great benefits to both body and mind.  It is approached as an exercise that allows the body to be detoxified and makes its own contribution to the cure of various diseases. In the same way, fasting benefits the mind and soul in the sense that it requires putting one’s will and refusal into practice.

Fasting is an act of voluntary refusal. For this reason, it strengthens the mind and carries its own card in the pile in  increasing the ability to concentrate. In a way, it liberates the mind so that it can focus on knowledge and self-identification. Fasting is a test of will that should in no way be taken so far as to harm the body or mind.

Fasting and the power of abstinence

While our society places a lot of emphasis on consumption and acquisition, giving up seems to be an even more difficult thing. Some ideas assert that the more a person has, the less he is free. The human mind and heart must deal with this property, material and spiritual, and instead of these working for him, he has irrevocably been bound by them.


It is said that “the rich are not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. ” This is true to the extent that the  need puts us in the perspective of deprivation and vulnerability.  And it is clear that much of what we need responds to the forces of market forces and society rather than to real deprivation. In any case, we often forget or ignore this unnecessarily and for this reason many of us have become “chronically needy.”

Fasting reminds us that we have the power to give up, even something as fundamental as food. Voluntarily denying food to ourselves allows us to step into a new view. This is an exercise that forces us to turn our gaze to ourselves, to perceive with greater clarity all the signs our bodies send us, and to recognize the emotions that follow us. Those who fast assert an increase in perception and sensitivity during these periods of abstinence.

The result of such action, when practiced correctly, is truly of great benefit to the emotional world. Fasting leads to experiencing better self-control and this increases self-confidence and self-esteem. There is a feeling of well-being and a resilience to frustration develops. Those who fast are usually quieter, self-restrained, and self-aware.

Fasting and health

One researcher who has delved deeper into the benefits of fasting is Mark Mattson, director of the UK Neuroscience Laboratory. His research has made it possible to conclude that fasting is a healthy practice that, despite its notoriety, promotes brain care.


According to Mattson,  regular fasting prolongs life expectancy and slows the rate of cell degeneration that occurs in  association with some diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It also reduces the oxidation process in all organs of the body and delays the onset of age-related chronic diseases.

But that’s not all. Fasting also improves cognitive abilities and promotes the ability of neurons to create and maintain connections between each other. This is reflected in an increased ability to learn and an increase in memory. Mattson says that fasting offers benefits similar to those obtained from physical and mental training, and that it is recommended to practice it once or twice a week.

In addition, researchers at the Heart Institute at the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, USA, have suggested that  fasting reduces the risk of heart disease and is responsible for positive changes in cholesterol levels.  In this way, it is clear that fasting benefits both physically and mentally. In any case, we should not forget that these exercises should be performed under medical supervision, especially if you suffer from illnesses.


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