In a fast, the body tears down its defective parts and then builds anew when eating is resumed.
So I did again.
Another 90 hours of water fast!
I did the first one a few years ago.
And since last year I made a decision to do it every 6 months.
The way it works is simple:
I don't eat for 4 days and I only drink water and tea.
Here are the reasons why I do that:
1. Autophagy. It's your body's survival response to lack of food and nutrition. Once the body does not receive external nutrition, it starts to "digest itself" in order to get the energy. It always starts with the most useless parts of your body - phlegm, broken proteins, toxic elements in the body, etc. Autophagy is the reason why fasting is incredibly healthy and rejuvenating for the body.
2. Ketosis. When body is the "normal" mode, it breaks down sugars and carbs into energy and it stores its energy reserves in liver in the form of glycogen. After the body stops receiving more energy from sugars and carbs and the glycogen storage gets depleted, it starts to create energy from fats. And when you're fasting, it's your fats that are burnt. The side effect of that is the creation of ketone bodies. Ketones provide neuroprotective benefits, which means they strengthen and protect your brain and nerve cells.
3. Mental toughness. Let's be honest, it's not easy. And the energy levels in the body are fluctuating wildly. I had interesting experiences where I feel like I don't have the energy for anything, usually around the end of day 2 and in the mornings, but when I start moving, I can walk 5 kilometers. Doing this practice is an expression of doing the right thing, despite temporary discomfort and it helps me stay in mental shape.
4. Taste buds recovery. I am lucky enough to have a strong and fast metabolism. I can eat bricks all day and I will not have more than 68 kilograms at the end of the day. I can literally eat everything. Unfortunately, this sometimes gets me to a weird place: I start taking the amazing tastes for granted. Now, water fasting is absolutely amazing for this! After a long fast, there is nothing like the feeling of the pickle taste. Or cheese. Or chicken broth. Or a strawberry. Man, strawberry! Suddenly I can feel appreciation and gratitude for all food super fast and super easily, and it stays for quite a long time!
5. Thinking about death. Memento mori. We all are going to die eventually. No one really knows what happens after death. Fear of death is one big unknown and if left untouched, this fear can end up driving a lot of unconscious decisions and behaviors of a person. I think it's a brilliant practice from many ancient traditions including Buddhism, Tantra, and Stoicism, to think about death. To meditate on death. Thinking about death and being aware of it, paradoxically, makes me more alive. When I'm fasting, my body feels weak (as it is eating itself, see nr 1. Autophagy) and somehow, the feeling of death is much easier to access as compared to when I'm just meditating on it. And when I'm in these states and I let go, it's easy to access one of the most beautiful feelings there are: "Thank you that I exist." Gratitude for just being, for existing. What's better than that?
6. Energetics. I love doing Wim-Hof and Connected Conscious Breath breathwork. The feeling of tingling and energy flowing through the body is wonderful and energizing. But man, when I'm fasting, these feelings are multiplied by 100! Not in an extreme way, where tetany appears (body and face cramps from rebalancing O2/CO2), but in a way that is very gentle and subtle. I can literally feel how the energy flows through me, and what's the most powerful - at the end of the session I get all my energy back. If there is one hack to fight exhaustion when fasting, it's breathwork. After breathwork on the day 3 morning I can go from being exhausted, and struggling with getting out of bed to being full of energy, ready to do whatever is required from me.
7. Slowing down. When I don't have energy, everything slows down. I walk slowlier. I talk slowlier. I take time to think a bit longer before I answer. I make tea slowlier. Everything slows down. And it's a different feeling than after meditation or releasing. It feels like I have to slow down. Sometimes I think this is how retired people must feel. And on some level, it's very deeply satisfying. It makes me be more "Be Here Now".
8. Bonus: Cold showers. This one is probably the most surprising. The cold shower is effortless. I expected it will be torture, to put myself under freezing cold water, hungry and tired. But the reality was, that the level of discomfort was very low. In fact, it was a very pleasant experience. And I was confused for a few hours because I did not understand how that works. It was completely counterintuitive. I guess, the ego does not have much energy to resist the world if it fights for survival, so it creates much less resistance and drama. The result is a very nice, fuzzy feeling.
I love doing the water fasts!
On top of all the benefits I mentioned, there is a feeling of adventure to it.
A feeling of being on a journey.
It's a short journey, but it's very rewarding.
In the world of instant gratification and cheap dopamine, it is the experiences of creating voluntary limitations that paradoxically help me create more meaning in life.
So if you have a free weekend in the next months, go to your google calendar and book 4 days for your next water fast.
It's definitely worth it!