Traditional fasting advice and detox products are easy to find. But what about spiritual fasting? What is spiritual fasting? How does it work? What are the health effects of fasting?
Finding resources for spiritual fasting is not that easy. We are here to help. We will walk you through the importance of spiritual fasting and some of the spiritual benefits of fasting. Read on to learn all about spiritual fasting and how to incorporate spiritual fasting into your holistic health and wellness practice.
What is spiritual fasting?
Spiritual fasting can mean many different things. Some people believe that all fasting is spiritual fasting. We also share this perspective. Our belief in holistic health and wellness means that our body is connected to our mind and spirit. As a result, the physical act of fasting does not occur in isolation.
Spiritual fasting is really just a way of describing a purposeful focus on our spiritual health and strength through physical fasting.
Common Elements of Spiritual Fasting
Because spirituality is deeply personal, there are no universal personal spiritual benefits of fasting. Outside of religious orthodoxy, acts of faith such as spiritual fasting are not something to be enacted. Only you know what it means to you to be spiritual. But when it comes to finding resources or inspiration for your personal spiritual fasting practice, we can help.
Spiritual fasting will, of course, vary based on your beliefs and convenience and experience levels, as well as your personal goals. Spiritual fasting is something that can be practiced for general health and well-being, or for a specific reason or goal. Some fast for the spiritual aspect, while others practice the fast for health and healing.
Some people find that a spiritual fast is a helpful way to overcome a difficult life situation, overcome a test of faith, or find yourself to reconnect nature. Common motivations for spiritual fasting are:
- Seeking salvation
- Renewal of faith
- Seeking meaning or direction
- Struggling with a big life decision
- Overcoming addiction or crisis
- Holistic health and wellness treatment
So you can off choose common spiritual fasting techniques that match your beliefs and goals. If you decide to practice spiritual fasting, keep these general ideas about spiritual fasting in mind:
- A spiritual fast is a physical fast
- Spiritual fasting involves committing yourself to Focusing your faith
- Spiritual fasting is deeply personal
- A spiritual fast is for health, not harm
- The spiritual benefits of the spiritual are interconnected
Fasting and praying: Spiritual fasting is physical fasting
Spiritual fasting is physical fasting. It’s about denying your body its basic need for food. This makes the practice a fast and not just a practice of spiritual meditation or contemplation.
It is important to deny the basic bodily need for food. The idea is to deny your body its physical needs in order to shift the focus away from your body and toward your belief and spirituality.
The physical act of denial is an act of belief. First to yourself, then to your higher power or place within your spiritual paradigm. Fasting is an act of discipline and self-control. Spiritual fasting is how you practice your ability to handle the lusts of the flesh. Spiritual fasting for health is how you remove these basic earthly things to make room for your higher power. This fundamental act of humility is important to the work ahead: your faith.
Additionally, the discipline of fasting is also a way to improve your body. Fasting can help you lose weight. Read our post on regular fasting to learn how you can fast for a period of time to improve your overall health.
The purpose of spiritual fasting is to focus on your faith
The physical denial aspect of healthy fasting is necessary to clear the way to finding or restoring spiritual clarity. When you’re fasting, you’re not focusing on feeding your body. This gives you more energy to focus on prayer, meditation, or other forms of spiritual contemplation.
Spiritual fasting is not about denying yourself what you need. Instead, it’s about managing your needs to align with something bigger than yourself. The goal is to focus on your faith and spiritual health. Hunger is easy to fix. Their spiritual well-being often requires a longer look. Spiritual fasting is a way to open yourself to introspection.
Spiritual fasting is deeply personal
A spiritual fast is not a public demonstration of your faith, strength, or steadfastness. You do not enter the spiritual fast by announcing your intention or promoting your journey.
In this time of over-sharing, it is tempting to make your spiritual work as public as other parts of your life.But the spiritual benefits of fasting await those who humbly embrace it.
Fasting can be done with close personal friends or family. But what follows the act of physical fasting should be left between you and your higher power. Fasting is about eliminating things that don’t serve your spiritual study. So, part of this is sharing your spiritual fasting work with others.
Once you have completed your spiritual fast, go ahead and share whatever you see fit. It is perfectly fine to encourage and support others based on your own experience. But during your spiritual fast, you should focus on your own journey.
Spiritual fasting is for health, not harm
Spiritual fasting does not for self-flagellation. The goal of spiritual fasting is not suffering or pain.
You may experience physical discomfort while fasting. That is normal. But physical discomfort should not be the focus of your fast. The discomfort that comes from fasting is part of how we recognize our body’s needs. But these needs are not as bad as they may feel right now. That’s part of fasting: realizing that the needs of the flesh are just a part of us.
We also believe that fasting should always include water. You don’t have to abstain from food altogether to have an effective fast. If you have other health conditions, such as diabetes, a carefully monitored moderate fast is likely a good option.
Healthy spiritual fasting is a way to find spiritual health as part of overall health and wellness. Therefore, you are not harming your body as you get there.
The Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
Spiritual fasting can have a number of benefits for the body, mind and spirit.
The Spiritual Benefits of Fasting p>
Although the goal of a spiritual fast is usually centered around your faith, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience other benefits as well. The practice of spiritual fasting involves your whole being. So it makes sense that when you rebalance your being, you would feel energized in other areas.
Next, we’ll take a closer look at what types of benefits you can expect from breaking your spiritual fast practice.
The Spiritual Benefits of Fasting: What to Expect From Your Fast.
It’s a cliché, but: what you put into your spiritual fast is what you figure it out.
Your beliefs and goals guide your practice. Consequently, the spiritual benefits of fasting are also personal. But we’ve compiled some universal spiritual benefits of fasting that should give you a good idea of what to expect from your fast. In general, spiritual fasting can provide you with:
- Spiritual clarity
- Cleansing of your soul
- Renewed faith
- More energy
- Better attunement to the world around you
- Transcendent Empowerment
Spiritual fasting is a path to self-knowledge . After a healthy spiritual fast, you will have a better sense of where you are with your faith and spirituality. You should not take this reckoning with your faith as “good” or “bad,” but as clarity. The reward of your labor is truth. Truth is a big part of getting closer to God. Even if this truth is maybe a bit uncomfortable. Conversely, you may find this clarity incredibly empowering. One of the spiritual benefits of fasting is finding out where you stand with your faith. Greater clarity is also a powerful tool for making important decisions.
The goal of spiritual fasting is not to find all the answers, but to pave the way for you to live the truth. Or as Rilke said in his Letters to a Young Poet: “…live the questions…”
A Soul Cleansing
The spiritual benefits of spiritual fasting are often similar to those of regular diet fasting. Abstaining from food and taking a break from digestion allows your body to rest and heal. If you allow this break, your soul will also be cleansed. A spiritual fast will remind you of the connection between the vessel of your body and your soul.
Without the distraction of your physical needs, your soul will benefit from the effects of spiritual fasting. You will be able to get rid of the unhealthy things you carry. You can get rid of the burdening thoughts and things that weigh on your soul.
Spiritual fasting is a way to renew your faith. It can reignite your desire to live your beliefs and align your life with your beliefs. Fasting opens space for your relationship with your higher power to grow stronger. As you fast, you will discover new—or amplified—ways to better live your faith through your physical actions.
If Your body isn’t working to digest food or remind you when you’re hungry, you’re using your energy to focus on other things. During the spiritual fast, you will use your newfound energy to explore your faith and spirituality.One of the benefits of spiritual fasting is that this new energy stays with you after the fast.
The spiritual growth you cultivate through healthy fasting will be reflected in your physical life. The connection of mind, body and soul flows in both directions. So when your spirituality is stronger, your mind and body are better too. You will feel energized.
Better attuned to the world
The practice of spiritual fasting builds focus and awareness. Therefore, among the spiritual benefits of healthy fasting is a greater sense of your connection with the universe. Spiritual fasting makes you less self-centered. It’s a way to free yourself from the limitations of what you want or feel you need.
Instead, spiritual fasting uses your inner spiritual focus to shift your consciousness to something greater. Your fleeting bodily desires and needs will weigh less on you. You will feel more aware of your surroundings. Your perspective will be that of connectivity.
You will become more focused on how to serve your higher power, purpose and the needs of others.
One of the greatest spiritual benefits of healthy fasting is that it helps you overcome the needs and desires of the flesh. We shouldn’t ignore our body’s needs or overlook the importance of physical health to overall health. But spiritual fasting will help you remember the fact that your body is temporary, but your soul is eternal.
Spiritual fasting sharpens your ability to find empowerment in things that are beyond your physical body lie. You will learn how to find deep satisfaction in things other than your physical needs and desires. You will establish a stronger connection to your spiritual existence. That way, you’ll be able to overcome those fleeting physical desires.
Hunger comes and goes, but the benefits of spiritual empowerment are a lifetime gift.
The age-old Practice of Fasting
Most versions of modern fasting have their origins in a religious practice. Cultures from around the world have historically practiced fasting as a traditional cultural or religious ritual.
Christian fasting is a biblical tradition. There are numerous examples of fasting in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some notable passages are:
- Moses fasted 40 days for Israel’s sin (Deuteronomy 9:9, 18, 25-29; 10:10)
- Ahab fasted and humbled himself before God (1 Kings 21:27-29)
- David fasted and mourned the death of his child (2 Samuel 12:16)
- John the Baptist’s disciples fasted ( Matthew 9:14-15)
- Jesus fasted 40 days before his temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)
You can practice spiritual fasting (and receive the benefits ) whether you are a Christian or not. Many people enjoy the benefits of spiritual fasting without practicing according to any specific or formal religious doctrine.
Because of spiritual fasting’s Christian roots and those of our namesake, Hildegard von Bingen, we tend to embrace spiritual fasting see through this lens. But we serve many different belief systems here at Healthy Hildegard. So our focus is on how we can integrate Hildegard’s wisdom in a way that best serves our modern life.
How to do a Spiritual Fast: Hildegard’s Spiritual Fast
“Some people are greedy and will not give up plentiful food. This is how poisonous, tough, dry […] is formed in them. ” – Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard was a firm advocate of moderation. Much of her work in natural herbal medicine, as well as theology, attempted to unite her belief that we are connected. Man is connected to the natural environment and everything is connected to the divine. For Hildegard, nature was a means not only to reflect the divine, but also to be physically connected to people.
For Hildegard, as a Benedictine, fasting was simply part of it. But she also saw it as an important practice for everyone. For Hildegard, healthy fasting was how we maintain balance and moderation in the face of excess and our natural weakness for excess.
Discipline was a key theme for her. Therefore, the discipline required for fasting was an essential force to develop in order to ward off temptations, imbalance and hence disease.
Hildegard also believed that being “short-tempered and peevish” leads to the formation of toxins in her body. She saw our physical health as a function of our spiritual and mental makeup – and vice versa.
With that in mind, we thought we’d share some of Hildegard’s spiritual fasting as inspiration for you.
Why You Need a Spiritual Fast: The Impact of Modern Life
Today we seem to have more than just toxic foods taxing our systems. Modern life means nail polish, lotions, shampoos, soap and myriad other personal care products applied directly to our largest organ: our skin.
Through our respiratory system, we breathe in a variety of toxins, whether we live in an urban or rural environment. And how does our body respond to the abundance of wireless signals in the atmosphere from Wi-Fi signals, cordless phones, radio, satellite and who knows what else?
Time will tell, but for now we can we still do a lot to relieve our bodies of the burdens of modern life. Even temporarily abstaining from the modern diet can be helpful, as the long-term benefits of the occasional healthy spiritual fast and cleansing are well known.
Modern life affects more than just our bodies. The stress, information overload, and hectic pace of modern life also harms our minds. We are overwhelmed by digital stimulation. We don’t have enough time for quiet contemplation or even sleep, see our post on digital detox. And our free time is often filled with more distractions and noise.
All of these can create serious imbalances in our lives. Because the physical consequences of these imbalances are the easiest to see, we often overlook other aspects of our being. Namely our spiritual health.
Hildegard’s spiritual fasting
A spiritual fasting is a conscious decision to forego modern nutrition. The benefit of this is that it can help rid your body of toxins. But it’s not just about avoiding toxins. The benefits of spiritual fasting are the result of building awareness of our relationships. We do this to deepen and strengthen our spirituality.
As Hildegard believed, our relationships are connected to our environment, our body and our soul. So when you practice a spiritual fast, you should consider all dimensions of your life. To that end, we have collected some wisdom from Hildegard to help you on your way. Here are some tips for a successful spiritual fast:
- Give yourself plenty of rest and relaxation.
- Incorporate reading, meditation and longer sleep times into your practice
- Dedicate some time to explore your spirituality
- Find moments of quiet and solitude
- Spend some time in nature
- Don’t be afraid to write down or log your goals, thoughts and feelings
The spiritual fasting recommended by Hildegard von Bingen is considered a “mild” fasting. It allows limited groceries, mainly soup and some fruits and vegetables. Depending on your preferences, you may or may not taper as the program progresses.
Hildegard’s fasting guidelines build on what she called the “two columns of liquid” or water and fennel and soup. You can also consume fruit and vegetables in the first phase, in order to finally taper off to just liquids in the second phase.
After a spiritual fast, your motivation and general well-being will increase significantly. Be sure to gradually reintroduce solid foods over time. Hopefully your experience of spiritual fasting will give you a renewed sense of vitality and energy.
For more information on Hildegard’s spiritual fasting techniques, see our post Hildegard’s Guide to Fasting and Health.
If If you’re struggling with modern life, check out our post on Digital Detox. Your spiritual fast will benefit when you add a digital detox.