Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Healthy Fasting part 3

Late spring, early summer are ideal times for cleansing fasts. (In other words, now, assuming you are in my hemisphere).  Timing is important in Chinese Medicine in many aspects.  Each hour during the day corresponds to a different organ system, as does each season and element.  Think interconnected web.  In the spring, the world is green with new growth and upward-moving energy.  The leafy greens and sprouts that are naturally cleansing to our digestion are all around us.  And as we make the transition to summer, the season guided by the element fire, the heat both externally and internally stoke the digestive fire.  This is a time when your body, when in balance (even somewhat) with nature is reinforced with the strength to adopt a cleanse or complete fast. 
If this is your first fast I recommend that you not attempt during a regular work week, but a day when you can rest, relax and go inward.  As mentioned in part I, fasting has long been a spiritual tool for most every group of people in history.  Fasting brings your attention to the present moment.  The discomfort, the hunger pangs (for some), the change from your regular routine are satisfying to the spirit when mindfulness can be practiced. 
If you are trying to decide which fast is best for you, take these points into consideration:

1.  For first time fasting choose a fruit and vegetable fast for one to three days to begin.  In the spring and summer if digestion is not compromised by illness, raw fruits and vegetables are best.  Water and herb teas taken to thirst.  Nothing colder than room temperature should be consumed.

2.  For those with excess symptoms such as red face, rashes, constipation, excess heat, sweating easily, juice fasting with beet, cucumber, and celery can be very helpful. 

3.  For those with deficiency signs:  coldness, listlessness, loose stool, depression, dull aches in the joints a monofast would be a better choice.  Choose one or two foods to eat only each day, fully cooked.  Rice and a vegetable can be helpful.  White rice is more helpful to the spleen, buckwheat, mung bean, kidney bean, and adzuki bean can also be tonifying.  Remember to choose only two per fast and stick to those and make sure they are always fully cooked.  Again, no cold beverages.

4.  If a spiritual fast is more your focus, or there is a serious health crisis you are working to resolve, a water-only fast can be transformative.  In the past I fasted on luke-warm water only, but have found that mixing in chlorella, blue green algae, or spirulina not only kept the hunger and detox symptoms to a bare minimum, but also kept up my strength and focus for meditation and qi gong.

Remember to use common sense while cleansing and fasting.  Hydrate when necessary and take plenty of rest.  I like to repeat a phrase while fasting when I start to feel like I want to give up and go get a snack.  "I have the rest of my life to eat.  Today I am gifting my body and spirit a respite."  This always redirects my energy and builds resolve.   Discipline is just remembering what you want.

Again, children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should not fast. Nor should insulin-dependant diabetics or those with dramatically high blood pressure.
Happy fasting and please post questions or comments below or email me directly