Exploring the practice of FASTING

Chances are you know what it’s like to reach for your phone, or consume a meal, or get to wherever you are going without awareness, without thinking or savouring.  

Much of what we do happens automatically, which is beneficial in some ways. Life would be exhausting if every move or breath required a keen attentiveness.

But the downside of life on automatic is that we develop patterns of being that don’t serve us or others well. Without even knowing it -- or knowing it all too well—our fears, our desires may have a hold on us in ways that are destructive.

Fasting is a practice that helps us expose and transcend our usual desires and attachments.

As a spiritual practice, it’s not about punishment or deprivation. It’s about allowing for a deeper receiving.

In saying no to something that is regularly part of our life, we create a space for a different experience.  

We create an opening for mindfulness, to see ourselves more clearly. We open the doors of our hearts to the transforming and healing power of the Spirit of God.  

A guide:  exploring the practice of FASTING

LENT - Week 1

Choose one thing from which to fast for the duration of this week. You may choose to fast from this for the entire season of Lent (40 days)  It may be one meal per day or a several days in the week.

It may be all meals on a certain day.
It may be a particular food or drink. 
It may be time on a device … when out walking or for a particular portion of the day.

Whatever it is, choose something that is important to you.

Through the space you have created by whatever you are letting go, what might you be about that brings you more in harmony with God's love for you and for others.

Be attentive to what arises in and through you during these fasting experiences. 

What do you notice is happening in you when you have a desire for your fasting item ... think physically, mentally, spiritually. 

What does this desire illuminate about your wants as distinct from your needs? 

How are you being freed to love and be loved?

LENT - Week 2

A guide: FASTING from Habitual Behaviours

Just as Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness drew him ever deeper into his quest of how he would
become God’s love in the world, so too with us.  Choose one habitual response from which to fast
for the duration of this week that you recognize diminishes you and / or those around you.

It may be sarcasm, or
dismissing a person’s appreciation of you, or
self-doubt in the absence of approval, or
frustration when things don’t go your way, or
a negative stance that shuts down possibility, or
eating in response to stress, or
turning to a device or activity in order to avoid difficult or demanding conversations or tasks,
or …

Whatever it is, choose something that is regularly part of your way of being. Take some time at the beginning of your day to set your intention to be mindful of the particular behavior you wish to attend to … to notice when it arises and to work with it, remembering that the goal is about becoming more and more God’s love in the world.

Take some time at the end of your day to review what happened.
How are you being freed to love and be loved?

LENT - Week 3

A guide: FASTING -- growing our capacity for empathy

Whether by choice or by the mandate of the Public Health Authority, restrictions are being placed upon us in relation to mitigating the spread of the COVID19 virus.  The travelling we may have been looking forward to is called off. The ways we gather for caring and connection, for learning and growing, for fun and entertainment are cancelled or significantly altered.

This too is a kind of fasting as we refrain from ways of being that ordinarily would be part of the pattern of our life.

This week re-frame one of the restrictions you are experiencing in terms of fasting.

Be aware of your responses to not partaking in whatever is unavailable to you right now --

eg. stress, disappointment, inconvenience, panic, resentment, entitlement, freedom, loneliness etc.

Just as fasting from food for a day, even a meal, permits a mindfulness of those who are hungry, let into your awareness those who daily endure the restriction you are experiencing. Take time to hold them in the light of God’s love. Notice what happens when you allow empathy.

Just as Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness drew him ever deeper into his quest of how he would become God’s love in the world, so too with us.  

How are you being freed to love and be loved?