My First Fasting Experience
Today I am going to share with you my first and most remarkable fasting experience. But first I must say a few words about your reactions to the story of last week.
Many friends liked the fasting article of last week. Some called the healing magical; others said it is a miracle. In my view it is neither. It is simply an illustration of the wisdom and healing power of the immune system installed by nature in our bodies. All our drugs try only to augment the real healer, body’s immune system. If body’s healing power breaks down, no medicine will work. Also, there is no need to learn much about fasting, one must try it out. It works automatically like digestion, elimination of waste products, perspiration, etc. If anything does go wrong body will tell by reaction of pain, nausea, other discomforts. If dogs and cattle can do it, we can too. Here is the story.
Together with my wife Sudesh, my sister, and some other close relatives I visited Badrinath in the Himalayas in the summer of 1991. We went in my jeep and I was the sole driver. Going was tough on mountain roads. We stopped to eat and sleep in different places along the way. At times beds were uncomfortable and food poor. I picked up some bug that upset my stomach. Ayurvedic medication I took did not help. This went on for nearly two weeks. After this journey I traveled 2500 kilometers by train to Tamilnadu.
I arrived at Atheetha Ashram with a bad stomach. The head of the Ashram, Swami Sahajananda, was an ardent believer in the superb healing power of the body and fasting as a method of evoking it. He suggested that I fast for 3 days and brushed aside my plea that I had never fasted for more than a day. I was given a light meal in the evening and told to start the fast the next day. No food was to be eaten, not even fruit or coconut water. I was to remain in bed and avoid doing any work, not even reading. Once or twice a day I was allowed a stroll around my small hut, but all other exercises were proscribed. I must fast for 3 days like this, he advised. While in bed I was to closely watch both the body and the mind.
I experienced change of moods, restlessness, headache, fever, and other minor discomforts, but I survived quite honorably in the opinion of my guide. I was ravenously hungry on the third day and was waiting to eat, but after checking me Swamiji suggested that I should continue the fast for another two days. According to him my headache and fever indicated that the body had begun the healing work in earnest but needed another 2 days of fasting. I mustered all my courage and agreed.
In the evening of the 5th day Swamiji recommended that I continue fasting for 3 more days. He hinted that I might be on the verge of a lifetime experience. I agreed. On the 8th day I broke the fast with two pieces of steamed ridge gourd. They tasted like nectar and to this day it is my favorite vegetable! My first long fast was finally over and it was a pleasant experience.
In two days of near normal eating my stomach began to function almost as usual, but I had a feeling that something strange was still going on in it. I needed to go to the toilet 2 to 3 times a day and was passing two distinctly different kinds of fecal matter. One was nearly normal but the other was gummy, shiny, red stuff that looked like flesh. I suspected it to be dysentery and thought I was emitting blood and bits of muck. Swamiji wanted to see it.
Anticipated this I had left my gift to the soil uncovered. Both of us closely examined the red stuff. I tried to spread it with a stick like the normal feces but it was old, gummy and sticky. It did not spread easily.
Swamiji knew what it was; muck that sticks to the inner wall of the intestines. He told me that intestines of almost all human being have this accumulation. In some cases there is as much as 2000 grams of it, and such individuals suffer chronic stomach ailments of many kinds. I probably did not have a huge accumulation but my body had decided to clean it out. Apparently, the stomach complaint I came to the ashram with was only a minor problem and was healed easily in the first 3 days. Also apparently there was no other serious ailment calling for urgent attention. I was still fasting and not using up most of body’s energy for digesting food. So, making best use of this rare opportunity my wise body focused on scrubbing the intestine to improve its efficiency.
Cleansing of intestines went on for one full month. Every day I was able to feel how far the work had reached. Started from the base of the stomach the scrubber worked all the way to the pocket above the anus.
When it was over, I felt as if my whole body had been transformed and made lighter. My stomach moved more smoothly than ever before, absorption of food increased, and I felt rejuvenated. Sixteen years later I still feel the effect of that amazing experience.
Is it a miracle? No, it is not. This is normal work that body would do if given the chance. One marvels, however, that such power and wisdom exists in the body.
This experience changed my understanding of both body and healing forever. Since then I have fasted many times for minor illnesses and recovered fully most of the time. Fasting did not work when I was suffering heavy colds and was traveling and living as guest in the houses of friends. Apparently, it works best in ones own home or under able supervision in a place where one is totally relaxed. Also, it is helpful if one has the time to stretch the fast if needed. For best results complete surrender of the body to the body is needed. Fasting is also a spiritual experience.
Partap. April 21, 2007
Responses from friends
Babak Kardan wrote:
When I was in Toronto I attended a seminar by a naturopath who had written a book about cleaning the intestines, and she actually showed us pictures of what you describe -- in fact she said even a surgeon's blade could not cut through this material, it could even contain material (such as undigested popcorn kernels) that were eaten years ago!
Suguna Krishnamurthy wrote:
Thanks for the mail Pratapji
I liked reading both the stories and could relate well as it was actually
happening to you.
UG used to say that the body is immortal and is in the now.... and its
intelligence is what cannot be touched by thought....
I am inspired to fast at least for a day ... sometime soon.