I emailed my professor for assistance before taking this on. His wisdom framed fasting as a way in which the body prays and is reminded of its limits. He also told me not to do anything too radical, rather skip a specific meal or food. With this in mind I decided to forgo lunch this week and in its place I decided to enter into a time of silence or reading as a form of prayer.
I have mixed feelings about the practice of fasting after a little less than week of practice. This spiritual discipline was able to help me focus on my body and what my body actually needs (not necessarily food, but hydration and rest). This was accomplished through reflection and realizing that I deeply resonated with a book I am reading on spirituality, I think I know what my body needs, but I don’t. And so I took this learning to the realm of spirituality. Am I engaging my spirituality enough? Or am I settling for a mediocre form that really leads to spiritual stagnancy?
I also noticed that when I fasted during the usual lunch period I was not too terribly concerned with my hunger, but an hour or so after I noticed myself craving food. It got to the point where I was focusing on dinner and not the work at hand! And while this was annoying and concerning, such thinking gave way to more intentional applications of fasting. This lead me to rethink how much my body needed to eat, how much I actually ate, and how others in the world do not have nearly as much to eat.
All in all this exercise humbled me, made me aware of our culture’s infatuation with food, and helped me to appreciate how much I have been blessed with. However, I am unsure how practical this practice is for most people. I am concerned that fasting from a meal for an extended period of time may not be of any help spiritually or physically. Rather it would distract the participant from spiritual practice and focus instead on the physical needs of sustenance. So when might fasting be appropriate? It seems to me that fasting would be able to add importance to liturgical seasons. For instance, fasting on Good Friday would highlight humanity’s need for God’s grace as much as we need daily bread and water.
I look forward to seeing how others may have experienced fasting.