24-hour Fasting Experience


Today I am inspired to write about something a bit different from what I usually post here, and it has nothing to do with coaching.

Recently I joined a Fasting and Purification Retreat in my hometown called “Nyungne”. It happens every year and has the duration of 2 days. In the first day, starting at 6am, one can drink water or tea and have a light lunch. In the second and main day, the goal is to fast completely between 6:00am until 6:00am of the following day. That being said, no consumption of water or food for 24 hours.

This is the first time in my life I fasted for an entire day. Back in 2009 I had the opportunity to experience the Ramadan in Pakistan, which is a month of fasting during daylight time (between 12-16 hours every day) and at sunset everyone has a feast (Iftar).

The retreat I participated was also a silence retreat, so the purpose was to be more introspective, avoid dancing and singing, using the phone and social media, speaking only the necessary, dressing simple and wearing no jewelry or makeup. When I signed up for the programme, I thought it would be unbearable and that I would feel very sick.  We had an introductory class at the evening before and the teacher said that we would enjoy the experience a lot and that in fact, we should consider it as a gift. Moreover, she explained that perhaps we would not understand the meaning and purpose of the retreat immediately, and later in our lives, we would know exactly what it had served for.

I might not know what the future holds for me, but I can affirm that I already have a hint of what it is. Because I am feeling happy and grateful. I can’t really express in words the exact feeling but I will try my best to do so here. I was not planning to write about it at all, but I feel in my guts that I must share my thoughts. The teacher said that we fast in attempt to stop hunger in the world. Yes, I also had my doubts back then when she said that. However, it makes sense, as you must have heard that in order to reach world peace, one must be at peace with oneself.

I must briefly describe what I felt while I was fasting so you understand why I feel good and grateful. Skipping dinner was alright, as I had a late lunch and I am aware that many people choose not to eat dinner on a daily basis. In the morning I was OK, just felt a bit hungry, just like how I usually feel before lunch. My stomach is usually noisy when I eat, and I thought it would be much louder once I stopped eating, but I can say it didn’t embarrass me so much. Surely my energy level was lower, and during the session breaks, I took naps and walked slower. My skin was dry and threatened to break out. I had symptoms of a cold, like muscle pain, sneezing and runny nose. I could have complained about all that, but then I had the following thought: “I had a choice, what about those who do not have a choice?”

When I took the subway home on the last day, I saw a girl eating chocolate and I wanted too. I saw a guy with a bottle of water and I craved it too. I passed by several restaurants and cafes, and I did not walk in. I would be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind to break the fast  a few times. I had the means to go to a restaurant and sit at a table without being ignored, I had the voice to order a meal, I had the money to pay for anything I ordered. Do you get the idea? 24 hours mean nothing when we know there are people starving for weeks. How spoiled are we when we complain about trivial things every single day? I realized that I have never felt hunger and I hope I don’t.

And my conclusion after fasting for only 24 hours is: I don’t want anyone to feel what I felt at the subway.

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