Friday, 22 April 2016

The Hunger Game

To coincide with a 6 day workshop I participated in recently, I was inspired to fast for the entire time. With no prior "experience" or research I decided to allow myself to be guided through the process. As a result;  I consumed water, green tea and coconut water (to ensure my electrolytes remained adequately maintained).

The workshop itself I won't describe in great detail; as that is not the focus of this post. Suffice to say, it contained aspects of self-exploration, spirituality, mysticism and self-development (to delineate a few facets). Limiting beliefs, paradigms of all varieties can and do come up for examination. Long held boxes comprised of wounds from the past, mistaken beliefs can be discovered and released creating a space of possibility from which to live into life more fully.

A couple of weeks prior to the workshop, I had already resumed additional physical activity and revised my nutritional intake in order to drop some weight quickly - with the idea being, when it came time to reintroduce a wider variety of foods type it would be done on a selective basis. The day of the workshop I ate fairly lightly mid-day and I had intended not to eat again before arriving that evening. (my past experience in the workshop was that a "heavier" meal often didn't sit well with me once I began to participate. During the first evening there was some general informational discussion primarily targeted at new participants. It was during this sharing that the idea of "fasting" was briefly touched on. Even still, the idea of it touched something in me and it was on!

I haven't gone completely without food for quite sometime, so that in itself figured to make this an illuminating experience for me. I really had no idea how I would respond to this and very much took on a "one day (or portion of the day) at a time" with respect to managing myself within the container of potential ongoing hunger.

I felt it important to frame this commitment as a portal of self-discovery and to minimize the idea that it was any sort of deprivation or punishment. The idea was not to create suffering. Nor was this to be a "demonstration" of any "holier than thou" or superiority. It was to be upheld as something I had taken on for myself and therefore an act of self-love; while at the same time, it was to happen parallel and autonomously to, what anyone else was doing.

The experience of "hunger" didn't vary a great deal through the ensuing days.  It became somewhat more acute after whatever I'd had to drink digested and lessened when I took in some fluids. I certainly noticed that I began to anticipate the "flavour" of the few things I was taking orally through the day (including tooth paste in the morning and evening and even the 15ml of a natural elixir I took each morning that was a combination of ingredients to lessen inflammation and repair tissue - the rest of the day was "taste-less.")

I never really experienced any drop in energy, though there was the odd occasion when I felt a little "woozy" (however not for long). If anything, my energy was elevated and more consistent throughout the day and as there was no "meals," there was no post-meal drowsiness.

It began to become clear that the volume and frequency that I often ate was arbitrarily established and certainly didn't strictly speaking, represent; replenishing the fuel tank.  Food (where I'm concerned) being so readily available and universally socially acceptable, can be consumed anytime, anywhere. My use of food to "fill the void" and/or repress feelings I was consciously or unconsciously trying to avoid became more apparent. Conversely my dalliance with fasting ensured that I was present to all my feelings (and those of others) far more consistently.

As well as my personal consumption habits being brought more to the foreground, I also became aware of this sensation of hunger being the constant companion of so many in the world and for vastly longer periods of time than my fasting period.

I must say that "getting back into my body" the practice and suggestion of so many different paths is most certainly facilitated through this practice. Frequent over-eating on the other hand, just leaves me "feeling" dense, sluggish "stuffed" and numb. Physical detoxification I understand to be a consequence of fasting, so I'm sure I have benefited in this respect.

Reflective interaction with various co-participants was varied throughout the process and while not a motivating or mitigating factor, still, an interesting factor to ponder. Some folks were "encouraging" and inspired by my having taken this on.  At the other end of the spectrum there were those that often offered me food. Possible reasons for that might include social conditioning and a desire to ensure everyone is "included." Other rationale might involve "group-mind" sorts of views that are more comfortable when everyone is participating along with the group. There could even be some with the unconscious desire to have me "fail" thereby deriving a greater sense that it is not necessary that they change anything or uphold any sort of commitment for themselves. I outline these possibilities not to specifically suggest I encountered any of them or to accuse anyone. Rather I became more aware of the need for, the challenges of,  and personal responsibility involved, in upholding my own path. Even if I experienced any of the previously mentioned sabotage attempts - at the end of the day, if I succumbed to an outcome contrary to my vision; that would have been a decision and action I took. As such, the only one that could be held accountable for that is me.

I believe that having successfully completed my objective I benefit on multiple levels. The ramifications exist both for the short term and a longer range impact. I strive to "play a bigger game" I acknowledge that will unquestionably involve in various ways, the "stretching of my comfort zones." This experience shows me that I can continue to "show up" for a commitment that asks something from me. I can hold my own path while it is being questioned or when I'm being invited to join others in their pursuits. I have no desire to posture myself as "better than" through activities such as this. However, I need to know that I can do it. I need the expanded experience of charting and maintaining my own course. This is something I'd would love to help foster in others. (to be clear -their following their own guidance and visions - not the following of mine).

In my desire and design to deepen my connection to life, nature and that which created it all, I recognize the need for deeper connection to myself. This in turn allows for a deeper connection with those around me as I can share more authentically from a foundation within myself. As this latest practice has most certainly set me on a good path of physical revitalization (as well as emotional/spiritual) it reminds me of the need to honour and appreciate my body as that which houses my heart and soul. Then I must lovingly follow my path without judgment or concern for what others are doing (or not doing) with or without outside approval.

I'm happy to be eating again - I have my sights set on making lasting changes to my nutritional intake. And while my digestive system comes back on line, which is a prevalent legacy of this practice - I am infinitely grateful for the abundance of food I have access to and that I have the "luxury" and have been extended the grace, of being able to attend workshops that offer transformation and expansion and that I can actually choose to go hungry or not.

While there might be more revelations to come regarding this latest time in the circle I can say at this point that while I "hungered" for food I became distinctly aware there are other aspects of life that have nothing to do with food - that I truly hunger for.

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