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Book Review: The Sacred Art of Fasting by Thomas Ryan

“FEAR NOT: IT WON’T KILL YOU If you are coming new to the subject, allow me, at the outset, to anticipate the slightest twinge of a normal reaction that you may encounter within yourself: “Me fast’ I don’t want to (lie!” Underlying that understandable reaction is a confusion between fasting and starvation. Let’s dispel that confusion right away. Fasting is a positive, freely chosen action that bestows a number of benefits. Starving, in contrast, is usually an involuntary wasting away through the prolonged unavailability of food or inadequate amounts of food.”

“Fasting is difficult, but it is the very fact of its difficulty that gives us the opportunity to connect to God in a stronger way.”

Now here is a book you should read if you are curious about fasting. There are so many great books on this subject and it seems that every one I read gets better.  I fasted for the first time probably close to 20 years ago now. It was only for one day and I thought I would surely die because I have always been told that we need 3 square meals a day. It is more like 3 square meals a day make us round, lol.  Although I am laughing myself, it is true. We are one of few Countries where it is considered healthy to eat three meals a day.

This book looks at fasting from several religious perspectives, Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist, and Muslim. It also takes a great look at the physical benefits of fasting. Most of the information contained here is just for shorter periods of fasting, one meal, one day, three days, and seven days at the most.

I want to share a few of the many benefits of fasting mentioned in the book and just say that this book is worth the price, read it.

“While some may consider fasting a form of self-inflicted punishment, deprivation, or denial, I find the regular practice of fasting rather liberating. During specific periods of time, fasting provides me with the opportunity to move the focus of my attention away from my body (which does occupy me, as it does most others, a great deal of the time). If my physical exercise is the way to keep my body healthy and daily prayer keeps my soul in shape, then my regular practice of fasting helps to secure that link between them.”

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” (Joel 2:12, 13)

“We live in a society that practically equates “three squares a day” with the preservation of life itself. We live with a mistaken notion that to miss a meal or two would he hazardous to our health and well-being.”

The list of motivating factors was both long and impressive:

To lose weight the quickest and easiest way.

To feel better physically and mentally.

To look and feel younger.

To save money.

To give the whole system a rest.

To clean out the body.

To lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

To cut down on smoking and drinking.

To get more out of sex.

To let the body heal itself.

To relieve tension.

To end dependence on drugs.

To sleep better.

To digest food better.

To regulate the bowels.

To feel euphoric.

To sharpen the senses.

To quicken mental processes.

To save time.

To boost self-esteem.

To learn better eating habits.

To share with the hungry.

To gain control of oneself.

To call attention to social issues.

To slow the aging process.

“On the other hand, we wanted to recognize the physiological dimension, too. There is a lot of clutter and excess that could he removed from our bodies with benefit. The body has accumulated a lot of mucus and toxins and drugs and chemicals that, if unloaded, would enable the vital current of life to flow through us much more freely. The temptation is to label the firmer one as “spiritual” and the latter as “physical,” the one as good for my soul, and the other as good fir my body. But it’s all me. And, therefore, it’s all related. It is with my self my embodied spirit, that I respond to God. If my digestive system is weighed down, blocked, overloaded, lethargic, that’s going to influence my heart response to God concerning my experience of the goodness of life. If I feel awful for physiological reasons, God is not likely to get many outpourings of joy and praise from my mouth. But if I feel that every physical thing is running smoothly, if I feel the energy is flowing, if I feel calm and peaceful with myself, productive and useful to others, and-well-healthy, then how much more easily prayer will come!”




December 28, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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