Mental and spiritual benefits of fasting are innumerable. Fasting is an excellent way to train your mind and brain to perform better. Fasting looks like a physical exercise, but fasting needs a good control over the mind. Hence it is also a mental and spiritual exercise. Even if you are an atheist, benefits of fasting to improve your mental skills and brain functionality are hard to ignore.
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Spiritual benefits of fasting
If you are a spiritual seeker, fasting can act as a media to communicate with the Almighty. It is a way to express your love towards God. It is a way to train your mind to strengthen your belief in God.
The below Sanskrit verses from various spiritual text books explain that fasting during Ekadashi – 11th day of Hindu calendar is very beneficial for mental detoxification and to get rid of sins.
As Per Divine Park,
Fasting is called Upavasa.
Upa means near.
Vasa means, to stay.
Fasting can become spiritual only when the mind “resides near” the God.
Mental benefits of fasting
Control over mind – Fasting helps to exercise control over mind. When you start fasting, it is more of mental hunger that you need to control than the stomach related hunger.
Fasting helps to have good control of mind, which
– helps to achieve superior concentration
– boosts confidence.
– helps to keep distractions at bay.
– makes you think twice before speaking.
Control over the mind is the key for anger management and following.
Firm resolution – Fasting boosts the resolution power of mind. It makes you firmer, it makes you stick to one particular task and complete it. This is the reason why great people like Gandhiji and Anna Hazare while on strike, resolve to fasting. Fasting helps them to stick to their resolution apart from putting pressure on the opposition.
Clarity of mind –
Fasting clears thoughts of mind and helps in organized thinking.
Fasting drives you towards austerity and simplicity.
Steve Jobs used to resolve to fasting, or eating only fruits for a specific amounts of time. It helped him to lead a simple lifestyle, with clearer thoughts and a firm resolution not to give in to money. This kind of resolution comes from the power of fasting. His famous quote – “Stay hungry and stay foolish” has its origin in fasting. Hunger in the mind can be increased by controlling hunger of the stomach, because stomach, emotions and mind are interrelated. (Example – people with more anger tend to suffer from gastric problems.
Fasting helps to clear the stomach and intestines of ‘Ama’ (indigestion). We already have read how Ama causes laziness. Hence fasting helps to get rid of laziness.
Lighter inside –
makes you feel lighter inside, gives you a healthy body and healthier mind.
Benefits according to Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda,
Fasting boosts Satvic nature of mind.
Fasting boosts Pitta. Pitta Dosha is related with enthusiasm, intelligence, analytical ability of mind, dedication, resolution to achieve the task at hand etc.
So enjoy mental and spiritual benefits of fasting by incorporating it after consulting your doctor.
Caution – Patients, people who are very lean, having less strength, and having Vata and Pitta imbalance or increase of Pitta should fast only after consultation with Ayurvedic doctor.
Fasting and Autophagy
Autophagy is a mechanism by which the body recycles old and dead body cells and cell components. This process is very useful when someone has disease and stress. It promotes survival chance of the individual by providing extra source of energy and cell components to the new cells and tissues.
The same process is very useful when a person is starving. This concept is explained as Dhatu Shosha in Ayurveda. When Ahara is not supplied, the Agni (digestive fire) eats up the Dhatus (tissues), leading to weight loss and if it continues for long, leads to death.
But in case of controlled fasting, the process of Autophagy leads to good recycling of dead and old body cells and extracting energy out of them. So, fasting can stimulate a controlled stress response of the body.
Effect on Ojas
Q: Fasting causes loss of Ojas. True?
This is true for a lean and weak person.
But in people with obesity, where Medo dhatu (Fat tissue) is pathologically high, fasting as a way of lightening therapy (Langhana) increases Ojas.
Read related: What is Ojas? How To Increase Ojas During Health And Disease?