To fasten: A voluntary abstinence from food in order to gain … well, what exactly? Spiritual freedom? A new physical sense of wellbeing? My most recent quest has been to find out just what to experience on a fasting journey, and to share my thoughts with you here, should you ever consider to do something like this.
Before getting started, head over to my previous post talking to you about why I chose not only to fasten, but also to have a “digital detox” with it). I’d then like to talk to you about ten gifts. Ten gifts shared as single words, each with a story of how I felt, and images to show the process (my photographic camera has indeed been the only technical device I took on my fasten retreat to the Health Resort Klosterberg in the Lower Austrian Waldviertel district).
Fasting, for me, is all about …
- Being less hungry.
- Being more grounded, and centred.
- Changing gears.
- Losing weight.
- Looking at the surrounding landscape in a different way.
- Rejuvenating your own body cells.
- Sharpening the senses.
- Voluntary abstinence from …
… well. It’s hard, let me tell you! Especially if you’ve recently fallen in love again, and vowed to be offline for ten days straight …! Nooo! 😉
So where exactly are we located around here? Langschlag, counting not even one thousand inhabitants, is a good hour’s drive from both Krems and Linz, in Lower and Upper Austria, respectively, and about a two hours’ drive from the Austrian capital city of Vienna. Do check out my blog posts here, and here, sharing the beauty of this particular spot of my homeland with you.
Fasting leads to an acute sense of awareness, and of being a lot more grounded than, for instance, being hungry.
What’s “awareness” to you? In my case, and during this period of fasting, it especially referred to “having time, not having to have the time”. Or, to put it differently: Not having to check the time constantly, but allowing for all of those little, innocuous moments to unfold. Such as talking to the hotel staff, your masseur, your zumba trainer, your fellow fasting guests and new-found friends. Having time to watch your own body change, to observe subtle differences about the way you look and feel. Awareness, it’s a wonderful thing and a feeling, an attitude and a way of life we should definitely cultivate more of.
It’s touching, really, just how intelligent your own body can be. It knows how to deal with scarcity, much more so than with having too much food, a relatively new, modern world phenomenon.
Hunger, even the audible growl of your intestines, disappears. Starting from day three or four of fasting, peace reigns around the centre of your body (imagine the mighty “power plant of digestion” being shut down for the first time in your life ..!). In its place, a sense of lightness, energy, happiness reigns. “Where does all this energy come from?!”, I’ve wondered more than one time. And: “Shouldn’t I be feeling more tired from not eating ..?”
But no. How can you have all this energy, even to do sports, while you “eat” about only a fifth of what’s normal to you, my mind keeps asking itself? I love how, every day, my own body is here to teach me the lesson that everything we set our mind, heart and soul to, is indeed possible. I have never felt really bad during my first fasting experience, and ended up having more energy than I ever thought possible. Letting go, and laughing, is all that’s left to do in the end.
Because: Without digestion, there’s more energy to do other things in life.
Changing gears, community, and losing weight.
Changing gears is important, and for me, slowing down has been all about allowing the surrounding community in. My fellow fasting guests, some of them easily turned friends, are here to support me with “first-timer-questions”, such as how does this work? And how do you do this? And why, oh why, do we feel the way we feel?! If, on top of everything, there are nights of card games involved, then I really feel a fresh sense of “living the old days” that I haven’t experienced in quite a long time.
Plus I’ve been reading, of course. Six books in three languages in one week, all while losing about ten pounds. Whoa! That, however, is having a holiday to me: Reading, reading, reading. Not checking my mails, meetings, nor my phone. Not having my phone with me. Exhilarating. I didn’t miss anything. Not one bit.
(Well. Admittedly, I did. For calling my lovely man, I did sneak out to borrowing a new friend’s phone. Wrote him an old-fashioned, beautiful, hand-written letter, too. And kept on looking forward to seeing him again soon ..!).
Last but not least, fasting means rejuvenation and sharpening the senses for what else is to come.
I honestly can’t get over myself with my new-found fascination for fasting. Swear I would do it again. Perhaps not immediately, no: I just love food, and EATING, way too much (and of course, telling you about all those foodie hotspots around the world!). But one day again, yes.
What I’ve definitely taken with me is a wish to turn off my mobile phone more often than in the past. Over a long weekend, during a summer holiday, etc. Not to communicate all the time, but instead try and be (even) more focused. The same holds true for eating itself: I’m hoping to continue my sense of awareness, my actual weight and my happy sports training, such as Taekwondo, jogging, walking, etc.
Everything tastes more intense, looks different and feels great after a week of fasting. Your body has had time to rejuvenate, your skin is clearer, smoother, and more healthy. It is a unique feeling, and one that you can only offer to yourself from within: I vow to do it again one day, and to live and enjoy life as much as I can now and in the future!
Last but not least, check out my entire photo album here:
And you, would you consider ever having a (travel) experience like this? 🙂