I have decided to change the blog post that I did concerning a practical tip about fasting into a diary. This might be said to be a violation of what Jesus taught about not letting others know that you are fasting, but he was speaking of a boastful heart bragging so that other people would praise you for your piety. My purpose is to be helpful to others and I have the confidence that the Lord knows my heart. As I am starting this some 3 weeks in, some of it is a bit of a reconstruction.
First of all, the structure of the fast needs to be clear. I was originally going to do a 3 week Daniel’s fast where I ate only a very restricted diet (500 calories per day) of vegetables and nuts followed by 3 weeks of a water only fast. After one week of the restricted calorie Daniel fast, I switched to water only. On the 16th day of water only, I switched to a restricted calorie liquid only fast (broth, juices and protein drinks). I did this second switch because the effects of the water only fast were becoming too pronounced for me to function.
When I have been getting up in the morning, my mouth has been dry and coated with a kind of thick and sticky film. In the fog of waking up, my first instinct has been to get something and drink it down. This is tremendously counter-productive. That film is biological waste that your body is trying to eliminate. Drinking it back down unsettles your stomach and makes you not want to drink. I have found that cleaning out my mouth thoroughly by rinsing my mouth with water and brushing my tongue gets rid of the gunk and makes that first drink very satisfying.
The biggest problem during the water only fast was the bile. My stomach is producing digestive juices that have nowhere to go, so they come up into my mouth in the form of a salty phlegm. Swallowing upsets my stomach so I have to spit this phlegm up constantly. I have been spitting into an empty plastic Wendy’s cup, but there has been a problem. Every once in a while I knock over the cup and cause a nasty mess. I have taken to putting a paper towel in the cup so that when I knock it over nothing happens. This is much less of a problem on a liquid only fast which seems to allow the body’s digestive juices to work on the juice or broth that I am drinking.
The effect on my bowel movements has been pronounced going into and coming out of the water only fast. At the start of the water only fast, I had liquid fecal discharge and experienced an incident of involuntary discharge. This is quite as glamorous as it sounds. Since switching to the liquid only fast, this has not been a problem.
Another physical effect of the fast has been to radically reduce my energy level. This has the effect of making small things tiring, moderate things exhausting and exhausting things impossible. Going to the store for juice and broth was an ordeal. The 50 meter walk, bus trip and 200 meter walk to the store are exhausting and I have to sit down to recover. Go through the store, get what I want and go through the checkout lines requires me to sit again. Back to the bus stop, back home and back up the stairs with groceries and I need to lay down for several hours to recover.
The mental effects of the fast are also pronounced. A loss of mental acuity and slowness of thought manifest themselves as pauses in my speech, periods where I zone out while thinking and repeating myself.
As for the spiritual effects so far, I have not had any revelations yet. Mostly “head knowledge” of facts sinking in as concrete experienced reality. The illusion of control over my life or my ability to make it without God is totally removed by the experience of being unable to perform simple actions or having my thought process slowed to a crawl. I have also been tremendously ashamed of the way I have taken plentiful food for granted. The stark realization that many people around the world experience what I am going through now involuntarily is difficult to process.
Day T – 13
Whereas before I counted the number of days that I was into the fast, I am now counting the days until I am done. This may not be very spiritual of me, but this fast has been harder than I anticipated.
One of the most amazing things one notices is the difference in my sense of smell. I went down James street in Hamilton this morning and the smells were blowing me away. Fruits at the fruit stand, chinese food, bread, vehicle exhaust. The other day I was going to my Bible study class and caught the smell of gasoline. It gave me an intense headache and made me extremely dizzy. I suspect that without the opiates released by eating your body is very much more sensitive to painful stimuli, but this is just my guess.
I also find that I do not like to waste energy with unnecessary movements. When I am sitting, I am sitting still with no hand movements, no fidgeting. This also extends to my prayer life. I sometimes lose focus while praying and pray repetitively, but I stop when I catch myself. Repetitive prayers seem ritualistic and insincere.