Today marks the first day of Lent for Catholics. Millions of people around the world have decided to give up a behaviour or substance for 40 days. This is considered a `partial fast’, and Catholics aren’t the only ones doing it!
Even though fasting customs vary across religions, such as timing, general guidelines and reasons, Wikipedia says, “Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history.”
While controversy rages over whether religion is helpful or harmful, maybe it’s tradition for a reason? I can’t help but think fasting has a basic survival element to it. It would explain why we still fast today and why it’s a shared practice among so many people from different backgrounds across the globe.
Indeed, there are many people today (backed with studies) who believe that fasting is healthy for both body and soul. In addition, depending how strict your fast, mental and emotional issues tend to surface from the subconscious during the cleansing process.
This is because we generally use our addictions to deal with unpleasant feelings, uncomfortable situations, unresolved issues and, some say, a spiritual longing to feel secure, loved and complete. When we stop using them, we either face these issues or use another method of repression, or maybe even go back to the addition.
Many of the religious reasons for fasting have to do with discipline for cleansing purposes, and the belief that when we ‘deny the flesh of worldly pleasures’, we can more easily access the spiritual realm and experience a little heaven on Earth. This discipline aspect intrigues me because it’s one of the Dog Whisperer’s 3-part recipe for fulfilling your dog’s needs and creating a happy pooch (check out this post for the other two: Wellness Lessons from the Dog Whisperer).
Could it be that humans need discipline just as much for our happiness and well-being? Is this why fasting is an ancient tradition? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!