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Fasting and Mindfulness of the Body

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21 Aug 2012 16:59 #12011 by Ivor
Ivor created the topic: Fasting and Mindfulness of the Body
Hi everyone. I thought I would keep a few notes here as I do a water fast and meditate much like on a retreat. Hopefully it will be interesting/useful to others as well as myself.

Background
I've been meditating about 18ths. Most of that time I have practiced in the U Ba Khin tradtion. You may know of this as the Goenka school. My practice involves systematically scanning the body and being aware of the impermanence of sensations. Currently I do this after reaching some level of jhana (deep concentrated absorption) with mindfulness of breathing.

Though my chronic stress levels have near disappeared as a result of sustained practice, I am not in great health. I suffer from low energy, cold/flu like symptoms every time I exercise (even yoga makes me all sneezy the next day if I do too much) and I have a lot of pain in my low back, upper back, neck and shoulders.

Im also a long time yoga practitioner.

Im fasting while my family are all away for 9 days. Im doing it to detox, and lose a little hard to move belly fat. I spent most of my life drinking and smoking far too much and boy am I paying the price now I'm in my early 40's!

Day One
I had my last meal of seeds/nuts and fruit last night about 6pm. It's now 24hrs later and I'm doing okay. I ate just raw fruit/veg and seeds/nuts for 2 days prior to starting so hopefully that will help.

I feel a bit weak / fragile and have a bit of a headache which could still be the caffeine withdrawal (i stopped the huge daily coffee 2 weeks ago and have been weaning off it till 2 days ago) but it's bearable.

I've meditated about 7 hours so far today and I can feel that my weakened body is affecting my mind as Im finding it hard to progress up to my cutting edge (which after 7hrs I should have reached) but nevertheless being extremely mindful of the hunger sensations and the minds tendency to veer toward thoughts of food and "oh poor me!" stuff is good insight practice and I hope it will bear fruit if I am able to continue tomorrow.

Breaking down the sensations into tiny parts I imagine is helping me greatly. I have nothing to compare it to though as this is my first fast. I certainly expected to feel much worse at this point though.

Lets hope it continues this way (famous last words..) :)

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21 Aug 2012 19:59 #12014 by david
david replied the topic: Re: Fasting and Mindfulness of the Body
Thanks for sharing Ivor and I was not aware of this mediation practice so thank you for explaining it. One method to assist with the detox symptoms brought on by the fast is a method put together by The Fast Doctor who helps people out here. You can find out about the five step detox process on the top forum tab. We have a dedicated tab as The Doctor feels that it is very important to eliminate toxins once they are immobilised in the blood. I like your method of breaking down hunger sensations perhaps this will be breakthrough method for helping fasters through their first few days.

Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.

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21 Aug 2012 20:46 #12015 by Ivor
Ivor replied the topic: Re: Fasting and Mindfulness of the Body
Hi David, I have read the 5 steps thing but have a few problems with it I was going to post at some point. Perhaps you could help?

  • Im 41. In my current condition (see below) I can't possibly imagine getting my heart up to 160 without keeling over!
  • I also can't imagine having a cold bath like this. Im so cold!

Progress report:

It's nearly 10pm. Shortly after posting earlier I started to get a really disgusting taste in my mouth. My mouth feels just horrible. My muscles have all gone very weak and it's a bit of an effort to get up the stairs!

My mind is okay, but it really wants to be "dull". Like tongue hanging out, staring blankly kind of dull. If I keep it "lifted" it's actually pretty sharp though.

I just had a really hot bath and hot water. I can't stop sweating --it's been pouring off me for 15mins. What's up with that? Oh, and I dont think it smells very nice iehter...

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21 Aug 2012 20:53 #12016 by david
david replied the topic: Re: Fasting and Mindfulness of the Body
Ivor for both these questions re 5 step and detox symptoms I would post them in The Fast Doctor's forum as you will get the best answer directly from him.

Great minds discuss ideas;
Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.

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22 Aug 2012 07:18 - 22 Aug 2012 07:20 #12024 by Ivor
Ivor replied the topic: Day Two
Woke up very early this morning. The mind kept veering towards thoughts of food. After an horu or so I gave up trying to get back to sleep and got up. Still feeling weak but the nights rest really did me good. I walked my dog for an hour (which I was really worried i'd not be able to do) and though I could feel the muscles were weak, i just took it slow and it was actually very enjoyable.

My mindfulness is dreadful in the mornings, but while walking I used the body as a base and paid attention to the touch of footsteps, the touch of clothes on skin, wind on skin and the impermanent "shallow ache" in the solar plexus region that came and went many times on the walk. As the mind wandered I noted this and returned to the body. Many times!

Even though mornings are not great for me, this morning was particularly bad. I have found my mind wandering far more than usual while fasting. I may start to include this wandering in my formal practice --may as well get the most out of it!

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22 Aug 2012 18:30 #12032 by Ivor
Ivor replied the topic: Re: Day Two
I felt pretty good all morning on DAY #2 but this afternoon i have had a bit of a headache, weakness, a momentary flutter in the heart region which was odd and the empty / slight ache in the solar plexus has been quite pronounced.

No actual hunger, but some uncomfortable sensations in the solar plexus / belly region. Lots of gurgling going on down there also.

I had to stop meditating just after lunch due to headache. I will try again tomorrow.

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