Friday, June 19, 2009
Fasting is a Virtue !!
Today is Ekadashi (the eleventh day of a lunar waning / waxing cycle) and Hindus believe it is a good day to fast. I have been fasting on every Ekadashi for several years. I had read about the spiritual benefits about fasting on this day and decided to attempt it. The Ekadashi fast is one where one abstains from eating & drinking the whole day and the ritual breaking of fast is conducted the next morning only. Having seen my mother fast regularly and survive comfortably, I knew that fasting is manageable.
As I started fasting, I realised that hunger pains comes in fixed points of time. Hunger is a reminder by your system to inform you that the time to feed has come. If, using mind control and strong resolve, you resist the temptation to pop something into your mouth, the feeling passes after some time. So, hunger becomes your slave rather than you coming under its control. It is great feeling to have mastered it. It is believed that if one can master the cravings of the tongue, one can master anything.
Besides improving our mind and making us more disciplined, fasting has many other benefits. Our human body is like a machine which is working non-stop. Even in factories, they have periodic servicing of the machines. If we give a break to our stomach, we are giving it much needed rest and help it in becoming more efficient. By fasting regularly, we facilitate our bodies to survive for a longer tenure. When we fast, we are experiencing hunger more acutely and therefore are able relate to other poor beings that are unable or cannot afford to eat regularly.
There are many ways of fasting. One can go on a liquid diet or one can go without salt or one can have liquids and fruits etc. One can fast for a whole day or for part of a day. One can choose a particular day in a week or fortnight or month to make this a regular practice. It is necessary not to overdo this and one should stay within limits. But as you start this practice, you will realise that there is a pleasure of forgoing and abstaining. And this is one pleasure that is a virtue!!