Unbelievable Fasting Experience
About the middle of January 2008 I began to feel some pain in my right hip and part of the leg. It became noticeable in the morning when I went to our local park for my daily morning walk and exercise. I tried to reduce the length of my walk, but my walking buddy egged me on to continue with him for our usual six laps of the circle. I did so for two days and the pain increased. Then I started going a little late and did just three rounds with my friend. But the pain now localized in the middle of my hip and became severe. After another two days when I just could not walk at all, I stopped going altogether.
My leg hurt badly when I was in the supine posture, but it was worse when I turned sides. Sitting too was quite painful on bed, in chair or sofa. I just lay in bed most of the time without much turning for it was very painful. Walking was worst, so going to toilet was slow and very tedious. I avoided these visits as much as possible, but even the bare minimum was difficult.
I decided to go to our Ayurvedic Clinic where our doctor examined me quite thoroughly and told me “it looks as if you have lifted some weight with a jerk, or twisted your foot in such a way that the impact got transferred to the hip. A muscle deep inside your right hip is badly sprained. It must loosen and relax before your pain can go. He gave me some pills to swallow and a bottle of concoction made from herbs of some kind. He also gave me specially prepared oil prepared in their pharmacy in Kerala. With this he asked me to massage the right leg, and the affected area of the hip with extra special attention. The watchman in our compound agreed to do this for me.
Once or twice I thought to try fasting (my normal remedy for last 20 years), but for various reasons I did not do it.
A friend and neighbor heard about my pain and came to enquire. After hearing the details he thought I should go with him to a new diagnostic center and meet a general practitioner whom he knew and thought very highly of. In fact he very kindly drove me to her in his car. So this young lady also examined me and thought the same as the Ayurvedic doctor. She prescribed some other kind of pills to relax the muscles, kill pain and put me to sleep at night. I was wary but mainly in deference to my friend and this kind doctor I agreed to take the medicine. The pain was less for a couple of days but it came back. I visited this doctor a second time and again she said, next time I will have you meet a bone doctor.
Again I thought of fasting but there was a lot of movement of visitors in our house and it was not feasible.
Finally, as the stream of visitors diminished I went on a fast Saturday evening Feb 6. On Sunday I kept complete fast. I was not very comfortable and tossed in bed most of the night and the whole day. I slept better the second night, but during Monday my thoughts were not cheerful. I kept thinking of abandoning the fast, also imagining that my injury was quite deep and bad and I might be in bed for months. Other such frightening thoughts kept coming. But I remained steadfast. I slept most of Monday night and it passed quite easily.
Tuesday morning brought a bright lining to the dark clouds floating in my mind. There is no gain without pain, I thought, and this might be my pain with a lot of gain wrapped inside it. I determined to cock all my attention to seeing and listening. What had been sent for me with this pain? Hints began to form before my mind’s eye. They grew clearer. Then a very familiar simple word appeared. That was my gift. In our culture one’s guru gives such a gift. It is called a mantra, or The Name. It is simple and brief. One is supposed to imbibe it into oneself and live by it for the rest of ones’ life. It becomes the individual’s most precious, very personal possession. It must not be revealed or shared, for then it gets cheapened and loses its power. If one remains faithful the effect of The Name begins to show in one’s body and behavior. In this quiet way it gets shared widely. The person carrying the sacred word remembers her role as a mere carrier. Avoidance of undue pride is made easier.
About noon I felt some sort of a movement in my injured hip. Something good was happening. In the afternoon I decided to break the fast with a piece of steamed turai, ridge gourd. It did not sit well in the stomach for a long time. The body seemed to be busy in doing the work it had begun. This went on for several hours. I drank a cup of thin vegetable soup late in the evening and lay down to rest. My body seemed unconcerned and kept right on working. At about 11:00pm I felt as if my pain had gone. I got up and walked to our study. I walked much better than in more than a month. There was almost no pain. To test the change, I again got up two hours later and strolled about. I noticed much improvement. At 7am the pain was almost completely gone. I walked downstairs and at a light snack in a joyful mood.
My friend the General Physician whom I had met twice had fixed an appointment for me with an orthopedic consultant Wednesday afternoon. I went and got thoroughly checked. He gave me a clean chit and said at my age my bones were exceptionally strong and healthy. When I mentioned the fast he kept quiet for a long moment and said, “after five weeks the body would heal an injury on its own.” He prescribed some aspirin and let me go.
He is right. My body did the healing. But I am sure fasting helped. When body is spared the heavy work of digesting food, a lot of extra energy is released for healing. Also one does not have to swallow pills that have their own toxins.
My biggest gain, however, was the gift of The Name.
I agree. My gift was already in me. In fact it is also written everywhere around me. But I was asleep and had to wake up to it. The pain woke me up.
February 23, 2008