Fasting, of one kind or another, is all the rage in certain corners these days. I don't have a strong opinion on it, though I confess to regarding it with the same level of skepticism that I tend to view all rising fads. There may be some value to fasting occasionally, but some people get kind of crazy about it.
However, yesterday was Yom Kippur, and I fasted for about 24 hours. I stopped eating after dinner Tuesday night, and did not eat (or drink) again until Wednesday night. The not drinking thing wasn't planned, but it happened, so I rolled with it. The whole experience was kind of interesting. I might have learned some things.
1. Hunger is a Sensation
I heard Phil Stevens say this one of the recent Iron Radio shows, and it kept running through my head throughout the day. It's easy to attach all kinds of weight and emotion to being hungry, but it is just a sensation. That kind of became a mantra for me...I would notice the sensation, acknowledge it, and then go about my day.
2. Staying busy helps.
I made breakfast for the kids. Took the dog out. Went to Synagogue. Played outside with my son. Took a quick trip to throw out an old toilet. Talked to my mother on Facetime. Keeping busy helped me ignore the hunger, and made me focus on other things. Honestly, it kind of helped keep me present.
3. Pushing "a little farther" works for me.
This is something I've found a viable strategy for anything that requires endurance. If I can consistently trick myself into thinking that I'll do just a little more before I quit, I finish. If I had set out to fast the whole day, I'm not sure I would have made it, but I kept telling myself "just go a little longer" or "if I really need it, I'll grab a drink in a few minutes", and then I would chug on for another hour or two. It's a complete head game, but it works for me.
The breakfast was nice. I ate, but didn't stuff myself. Not all of it was "healthy" food (the ice cream trifle was damn tasty though), but I actually gorged myself less than in some years where I hadn't fasted as rigorously.
Oddly, my schedule today shook out so that I didn't eat for a big chunk of the day. It worked out fine too.
In one of his books, Dan John recommends spending time being hungry occasionally. I think I may continue to play with it.
In Before We Go, Dan John also lists a series of challenges he believes everyone should do. Number six is a twenty four hour fast. I discovered this last night while re-reading the book.