~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fasting: What is Missing?

Fasting. Inadvertently. As a friend travels overseas, one of her posted comments about feeling hungry while waiting in line, and then the response of another friend, creates a resonance within me that opens a reflective portal: when fasting happens upon us due to a situation, do we resist? Do we cling to our mental notion of thirst and hunger? Do we attach to the lack instead of the opening it provides? How do we move past the discomfort we feel of fasting?
My friend is in an airport, those modern spaces that have become physically and demandingly liminal, the bridges between home and other. It is a challenge to remain present to what is rather than what we desire it to be and what we might be or are missing. Fasting brings this out very clearly. 
During traveling both directions on my pilgrimage, I was put in positions of fasting, part by my own thoughts and part by circumstances unavoidable. Traveling distances alone puts additional pressure upon relying on one’s own resources and resilience. For instance, traveling solo, there is no option for someone to hold one’s space in line and, for everyone, anxieties about missing a flight create the “perfect storm” within mind and body where the occurrence of fasting accelerates our fear or discomfort. Does it have to? What are resources we can use to accept the bridge space with equanimity? 
On the practical side, we could be prepared in a different way … instead of packing our travel times so tightly — because we don’t want to “waste” time in the “between” and on the Bridge of Journey — we can leave a broader passage so that we feel comfortable stepping away from a line or seating if we need to in order to attend to body or emotional needs.
Alternatively, we could lean in closer to our lack in those moments of abstinence and/or restriction and open to the lessons if possible, and know that our energy field can nourish, can provide us with sustenance. One’s body has the ability to recycle moisture, from cell to cell — hey, allow those fat cells to release the excess they hold and get it circulating for nourishment; see it happen through visualization, assist with the wisdom and healing of flower essences and remedies, whatever is available. 
If I had been more settled, I could have taken a specific cell salt during thirst, one tablet every few minutes until feeling better, secure in the knowledge of its ability to assist in water management. With that thought, what is a remedy to help with toxin buildup in kidneys when unable to pee? Further, listen to inner wisdom and sip water, a little bit a time, no need to drink huge amounts during a section of time (on the plane, in between) when you might not have access to toilets. Include remedies (cell salts) to assist with hunger, either to settle stomach acid or for growling and rumbling, and … reduce our intake consciously during travel, allow the stomach to shrink, especially during airline travel due to the unpredictability and nature of this type of transition. 
These experiences and processes are all part of the journey.
I’m grateful my friend, via her comments of her own experience, reminded me of this aspect that was so very stressful for me during my Crete pilgrimage two years ago, and which I wrote about in my memoir. With some additional planning and mental preparation, I now feel more confident about the air travel to/from Scotland next year. The extra time spent in an airport can be viewed as true liminal space — a between existence that is neither the past (home) or the future (destination) and vice versa, and, as I found with my hotel on the return, can be a very healing and helpful pause for reflection prior to reintegration into normal life. We can sink into those spaces for their own unique gifts and also recognize their potential for the joy of anticipation — a very real, powerful, healing energy for its own sake. Release the fear and anxiety — if a flight or other transport is missed, another can be arranged. Once the journey has begun, what are the lessons and wisdom it holds? The bridge is also part of the journey! That is the paradox to be accepted. 
Yesterday, I also coincidentally read a blog where a 3-hour transition (Scotland to London) became 35 hours, and the gifts of the extension were shared beautifully by the traveler. And why not view our bodily challenges this way, also? Can we? What will fasting offer to fulfill something else in our journey? Can that emptiness be filled with something else like the sheer adventure, or the beauty we see, the miracles around us that make the travel possible … the people, the place, our own recognition of body temple’s remarkable ability and resilience? Be Present.
We can plan differently based upon what we have learned … but we can also learn from wisely knowing that plans go awry and thus allow ourselves to be flexible and participate in the space of unexpected between space. The pilgrimage or vacation is a microcosm of our extended life that is filled with minutes or even years of feeling like we are “between” pivotal experiences … or the “between” is in fact the pivotal experience that has a greater impact upon us than what we thought was to be the change. Such is life!

During what periods in life have felt like you were “fasting”? How did you handle it? Where was your soul during that time? Did you allow yourself to see, grow, and feel fully into the experience, or did you block it all with distraction, resentment, fear, anger, or self-pity?
When traveling -- whether via psyche or substance or both -- how can we accept what is missing and be more present to the gifts that absence may bring?
In Memory of Amber & Kiki


  1. Feeling fully into each experience - horses teach this very well.

    To be "present to the gifts absence may bring" is best accomplished by letting go of expectation and allowing life to flow its course.

    I have found, in the most trying of times, no expectation brings about the deepest and most profound learning. Expectations seem a limit. When in and allowing life to flow, any expectation has been exceeded.

    As energy workers, we know to sense the pull or invitation. Ancients prepared with much fasting and prayer for many different types of journey - the knew to do this well in advance, preparing mind/body/soul to chart the flow of life experience about to unfold.

    Perhaps the more we heed this flow, the more our bodies may spontaneously "fast". Eventually it is like the universe serves our needs "as ancient man knew". In my business, periods of crisis are followed by lulls of quiet, once bodies heal. I have learned to savor these lulls - to work on myself, thus one delves deeper into flow, trust and immeasurable experience.

    Just seems to work this way for me - Belle has some very neat insights into all of this, as does Pinky!

    Lovely, thought provoking piece!

  2. Interesting thoughts. Skipping a meal now and then seldom bothers me, especially when I'm busy. I've never fasted intentionally -- except in prep for a colonoscopy. Again, keeping busy helps.


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