If you’re big on the Gregorian calendar, you’re probably aware another new year is almost upon us. This is typically a time when people take pause to consider making changes in their lives, like quitting smoking, eating healthier, dropping a few pounds, or giving up German shizer films. Why these things can’t be accomplished any other time of year, I’m unsure, but I suppose the mark of a new beginning brings with it new inspiration, no matter how short-lived the stirrings often turn out to be.
Instead of focusing on the changes we need to make in our lives, highlighting our weaknesses and shortcomings, perhaps this time would be better spent reflecting just how far we’ve come the last 365. Though the years may seem to start blurring together and racing by the older we get, I’m fairly sure each and every one of us can pick out several accomplishments in recent past to be proud of. It’s definitely more encouraging to give ourselves a pat on the back for the minor victories we’ve claimed than begin a new calendar date imposing the guilt and pressures of a rigid lifestyle ruleset we’re probably ill-equipped for.
For any lasting or stable change to occur in our lives, an entirely new mindset of action and resolve need be imposed, the kind that generally does not occur after a week of shovelling turkey, mashed potatoes, cookies, and broken candy canes down our gullets.
It’s been my tradition the last several years to do a 10-day fast come January 1st. Circumstance isn’t favourable to do that this year, and I’m fine with that. In fact, it’s opened my eyes to better ways of taking care of the meatsuit I’ve shamelessly abused over the decades.
There’s a lot on this subject I’d like to get into, but that’ll be coming up in another post. For now, I’d like to share something that’s incredibly simple, but absolutely essential when it comes to healing the afflictions, emotional or physical, that currently torment us.
I came across this bit of insight rereading material from some of the best proponents of Natural Hygiene recent history has blessed us with. These fine gentlemen definitely didn’t have all the answers to the quirky condition we know as “being human,” but their dedication, commitment, and plain ol’ common sense will always far surpass the insane, allopathic practices society currently praises as cutting edge.
When I fast, I generally never slow down. I carry on with my days, business as usual, the only exception being no food is ingested, only water – a true fast. I’ve done juice diets and teas other times, but those aren’t fasts, they’re a form of minimal eating.
The best clinicians of extended fasting – for the purpose of deep healing – always had a rule I thoughtlessly ignored – no work was to be done. No exercise, no reading, no listening to music. Short walks were permitted, but not much else beyond bed rest.
Let’s consider that for a moment. I tried to touch on this idea in a previous post, but didn’t quite make the connection I want to make here. Eating does not directly provide us energy. Foodstuffs need to be digested and converted into a usable fuel for us to work with. If it came down to eating food for energy, we would never sleep. We would simply have a quick bite, then carry on. This is not the case, as everyone knows the more we eat, the greater our likelihood to nap or go completely unconscious. It is during our sleep-time that our ingestions are processed into a workable power source for our vehicles.
This understanding might help explain addictions like caffeine or sugar (dates included I’m sad to report). The immediate rush is not a net gain of energy, but loss. The body attempts to burn off an imbalance or toxin as quickly as possible, which we relate to as a pick-me-up, or rush. As an example, every coffee drinker who relies on caffeine for a boost, at least the ones admissive of their addictions, is well aware of the concurrent low that happens when their buzz wears off. A pendulum swing one way always produces a resultant swing the other way.
Stimulants do not provide energy to to body, they deplete it. No one seems to question this when the so-called “hard drugs” are the topic of conversation, but vehemently defend choices when a cup o’ joe is involved.
Healing and revitalization happen when we sleep. If we weren’t so completely out of whack understanding perceived hunger sensations versus the need for another fix (sugar, salt, carbs and fat, whatever), we would probably realize that breakfast is the stupidest idea we could possibly start our day with. If the body just spent all night converting the previous day’s “sustenance” into energy, the last thing we would need in the morning would be an injection of “food” to give us strength. The habits suggested to us from the people with vested interests to sell bacon, cereal, eggs, and bread, have conditioned us to start our days loading our bellies, resulting in mental dullness and sluggish decision making right off the hop. The “most important meal of the day” will sit in your gut until that final hour you decide more sleep is needed to carry on as a responsible adult with a job or life situation you’ve deemed necessary for survival. Think back to the biggest breakfast you’ve ever had, and let me know how much it enhanced your energy levels…
Eating habits aside, what I really want to discuss is the importance of rest. This is when we build energy. This is when we recharge, and this is when we heal. When we deprive ourselves of this most important state, nothing good can ultimately happen – it’s only ever a matter of time before some form of inevitable crash occurs.
I’ve done a lot of fasting over the years, and I’ve discovered many unexpected benefits that have enhanced my body and mind, but it’s likely I’ve squandered any of the deeper healing that may have occurred because I didn’t fully respect the process, much like our attitudes toward sleep. I’ve never done an extended fast while remaining bedridden with no focus on anything but healing.
A time of rest is essential to our well-being, but we sadly treat it like an inconvenience. I can’t begin to tell you how many 16-hour work days I’ve pushed myself through because “things needed to get done,” and I’m sure you have just as many stories of your own, but sooner or later, we always pay the piper, even though we rarely admit our “diseased” states as being connected to ignorant abuse of the only vehicle we have at our disposal to interact with this reality.
The thought of laying in bed for 10 days while fasting seems, ironically, arduous enough, but to give up reading, writing, or listening to music during the process? Insane! I can’t fathom it.
But wait, yes I can. I realized this when I began to wake every morning in a household that had more than one television blaring. Instead of being greeted with silence or birds or a gentle wind rustling through happy tree leaves, I learned the torment of hearing Blossom reruns as my rooster. We think that watching TV while lying on the couch is restful, but that’s just about the farthest from truth. Anything emotionally engaging will always carry a physical stressor with it. Reading a novel about crime, futuristic robots, or Fabio’s sexy hair always gets us charged in some way. Traffic sounds, loud noises, squabbling siblings – these are all drains on our system we never give a second thought to. Mental stimulus is every bit as taxing and stressful as our shitty job pressing Lever 7 every time a new widget rolls by.
Our healing begins when we start respecting reason. Pills, injections, and excuses over made-up disease names will never move us forward. There is no mysterious bacteria, virus, or genetic shortcoming crippling us. We poison ourselves, and the only way to undo our illnesses is to stop engaging in what destroys us.
Perhaps you’re still on the Julian calendar, which means you still have time, but if you want to start your new year right, best take stock of the past – if your familiar habits aren’t serving you, don’t expect greater benefits down the road. Today is the day to create the you that scares you. You’ll never know that “you” unless you dare to shed your skin. Sure, that layer has always been snug and comfortable, but if it doesn’t fit right anymore, if it constricts your ability to slide forward, it just might be the time to drop it aside and move on. Go ask a shrimp, crab, or snake. New armour grows, stronger than the last.
We’ll get to butterfly metaphors next time.