Ayurveda Day 93: Mental Fasting

Today, I went to see my naturopath. We talked as I hadn’t seen him in over a year, and we discussed some interesting things from a naturopathic perspective to an ayurvedic perspective. Now I will say quite clearly that he is a licensed doctor who went through years of schooling to get a degree. His knowledge is very vast. My ayurvedic education is amazing and in depth, but no matter how many years I spend studying it, I will never be “Dr. Saran Ekambaram, AD (Ayurvedic Doctor :P). But it was nice to talk to him and see some parallels.

In his office, he has some books. One of the books I really like to read while waiting is about zen. They are in comic form, and have short one page stories about zen proverbs and teachings. In one of the teachings, they were talking about mental fasting.

I found just that term to be beautiful. Mental fasting.

It’s self-explanatory! When we fast, we typically stop eating, or reduce the eating, in order to cleanse the digestive/elimination systems. When we have a mental fast, what happens?

We stop thinking! It cleanses the mind!

Cool. But way easier said that done for anyone who has ever had a thought in their mind.

Just try this experiment to see it’s difficulty:

First try a normal fast. Congratulations, if you are not eating at this moment, technically you are fasting until you eat again!

Now, try a mental fast. Did you think?

I guarantee you did.

So let’s look at it more of as a “reduction” of thoughts. More specifically, it is about surrendering.

I took my dog, Indy, after my naturopath visit for a walk to the park. I let her off leash and just sat on the grass while she was free. She smiled and rubbed her back on the grass like a big doofus like she always does (it’s super cute). We played fetch, and by fetch I mean I throw a stick, she gets it, then I go to her to get back the stick. She even came to me and cuddled as we layed on the grass. It was a beautiful time. I was feeling sore after my naturopath visit because the doctor gives me injections in my shoulders and neck to promote healing from my motor vehicle accident. This was a necessary and happy compromise to me trying to hold her as she goes on a walk, which would have made me super sore.

The compromise wound up being amazing, as I just let go. I took a fast from all the controlling and planning I usually do and just let her be free. I created a space of trust that she would return to me, and she did, even when other dogs came by. I have been feeding the need lately to do so much to make sure all my plates keep spinning – work, school, relationships, pets, mortgage, debt, volunteering…it’s too much ahh!!!

So I just let some plates fall. I took a fast. A mental fast. I stopped thinking so much by reducing my main culprit of thought:

Worry.

Worry about the past.

Worry about the future.

I decided to just let my thoughts only go to the present moment. This is the heart of a mental fast.

As Indy played in the park I sat and meditated for a few moments, trusting the dog to do her thing and not stray too far. I asked my higher self to speak, and that I would be quieting my mind. Mentally fasting to allow it to have space to give me wisdom.

I asked it, “Oh higher self, what comes now?”

I listened and waited. My ego brought up thoughts. I dismissed them and went deeper. It wasn’t work. It wasn’t school. It wasn’t relationships. Eventually it came down to a whisper from my soul. As the ego quieted, it’s words became more clear:

“Go deeper into stillness and silence, and uncover your true self”

As I sat in stillness and silence, mentally fasting, ego-driven thoughts would come up. But I would let them go to the earth below. With my hands on the earth, I felt the immense energy as I focused only on what my hands were doing. I just felt the blades of grass touch my palms, and the soil moving underneath with tiny life. I felt the vibrations from the entire planet coming into my hands and grounding my whole body.

I realized there were so many blocks and barriers in my self that I needed to undo. As I mentally fast, they come to the surface where they can be let go of, into the earth (it helps to actually be touching the earth like I was).

That whisper is always in all of us. Our true self, that allows others to be free and doesn’t worry so much. The one that knows love is not about possession or control, but about appreciation.

Some of us become so obsessed with diet and lifestyle, we forget it all tends to start in the simplest place:

Our thoughts. Those thoughts are connected to our breath, the bridge between our body and mind. Just breathe. And reduce your thoughts. Mentally fast.

Another word for this is meditation. But meditation isn’t just to sit with crossed legs in lululemon clothes on a yoga mat with hands in chin mudra chanting “Om” over and over. That is just one type of meditation.

Life itself is a meditation. Washing the dishes, walking the dog, brushing your teeth, having sex, driving your car, sleeping at night – everything can be a meditation. If we mentally fast, we are entering into that space of meditation.

Everyone should mentally fast. You can start right now. Imagine going about your day without so many thoughts rattling around, and rather, hearing the wisdom of your true self whisper gently to you when the need arises. This is our true state of being. So give it a try. Just breathe, and tell your higher self you are surrendering to it’s wisdom. Then listen. Just listen. There’s no need to do anything else. There is more enlightenment to be found in a drop of silence than in the words of a thousand buddhas.

With gratitude,

S

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