Friday, March 9, 2012

Fasting refreshes the spiritual forces in ones soul

"(The 19-day Fast is) essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desired." (Shoghi Effendi, January 10, 1936 found in Lights of Guidance, p. 233)
There is something very extraordinary about fasting....almost magical. I don't think the power of the Fast lies in the absence of food, but more in how people react to the restraints this puts on you:
  • Encouraging more spiritual contemplation - I've noticed over the past years that it's easier to enjoy spiritual clarity around 6 am, before the cares and noises of the world take over.
  • Strengthening relationships - Food brings people together. However, our busy NYC lives make it harder for people to get on the same schedule etc. During the Fast all my Baha'i friends are on the same eating schedule: sunrise & sunset. This means more communal dinners. Also I've really enjoyed having breakfast with my husband every dawn.
  • Constant reminder of ones faith - Every time my body tries to tell me I'm hungry or thirsty I remind myself why I'm doing this. The reason I give my stomach/dry throat varies daily according to whatever quote/theme I am meditating on.
  • Nourishing self-reflections - At the start of each Fast I reflect on the past twelve months of my life. I note my accomplishments, setbacks and things I'd like to improve. I make goals for the next year.
  • Intense connection with the word of God - I don't know why but I've noticed I have a deeper connection to the words I read and say during my daily prayers/readings during the Fast than at other times.
I recommend that everyone try out fasting at some point in their lives. Regardless of your beliefs.... My mom, a Baptist, often fasts whenever she is facing a difficulty in her life and needs clarity or wants to spend a day in a deep connection with God. My husband, who doesn't prescribe to a particular religion, enjoys the mental and physical challenge of fasting.

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