Tag Archives: fasting

Fasting Tips

Well, now it’s day 8 of my fast, and I’m definitely over the hump. Here are some of the things that are keeping me going.

1) CULTIVATE AN ATTITUDE OF ABUNDANCE. There are these crazed moments when fasting (esp. around dinner time) when I start fantasizing about food and am almost convince myself that there won’t be any left by the time I start eating again. When I come to my senses and realize that there is likely to be an abundance of food when I choose to eat again, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude that this is so, and reminded that this isn’t the case for everyone. That not eating is a CHOICE for me, and that it is a luxury to be able to make this choice. There IS enough in the world, and I don’t need it all right now. I have what I need. I am blessed. Some friends of mine make it a tradition to fast instead of feasting on Thanksgiving, and somehow this seems appropriate and beautiful, if impractical for many of us.

2) PRACTICE AHIMSA, an attitude of non-violence, in this case particularly to onesself. I am doing this as a way to be kind to myself, not to punish myself for all my previous sins. When I was a teenager struggling with body-image issues, I never had the willpower to successfully fast, because my attempts were not out of love and respect for my body but rather out of self-loathing and punishment. It was only after (effortlessly!) losing weight through practice of yoga and learning to love myself that I had the willpower to successfully fast.

3) ENJOY THE OTHER SENSES. I’m continually amazed at how sensitive my other senses are while fasting. Especially the sense of smell (ok, so sometimes this isn’t so great, especially when living in New York it was a bit much sometimes)…but I am finding that whereas a few days ago the smell of my mom’s cooking was enough to drive me mad with craving, now the smells are almost filling in themselves. The same with sight. My eyesight seems clearer and its almost as though I can fill up at the mere sight of food, especially beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables. I am more sensitive to sounds as well, and trying to practice a bit of nada yoga each day, just listening…it really does feel like I can see, taste, smell, and hear not just with my sense organs but at the cellular level. Again, this can be overwhelming, so it’s nice if you can be as gentle as possible with oneself (ahimsa again).

5) PRACTICE ASANA! Along with increased sensitivity of sight/sound/smell/touch comes increased sensitivity to the subtle body in yoga practice. The movement of prana in the body is much more distinct and perceptible with the digestive system fully at rest. Also, I’m finding that instead of using my practice to “burn up” whatever I’ve consumed, it actually seems to fill me up at the cellular level. I have been able to keep up my regular intensity of practice, and my body feels  steadier, lighter and more flexible than before. I am also finding exploring a more restorative practice (which I don’t ordinarily have the patience for) extremely rewarding and nourishing.

6) MEDITATE. Not just on the cushion, but all day long. the way the mind reacts to fasting is much like it does when trying to meditate. Desire for food arises (much like any thought) and the choice is presented of whether or not to entertain the desire. Sure, sometimes it’s fun to go ahead and drive myself crazy fantasizing about food…but eventually I find that if I choose NOT to engage, the desire passes! Then it rises again, and passes again. Much like those pesky thoughts when on the cushion. It helps me to realize that its always like this, not just when fasting or sitting, that I can really bring this practice into my life in a useful way.

7) TRY OIL-PULLING. Usually during the first few days of a fast, the mouth can get really funky and the tongue coated with “amma” (the body’s toxic sludge, delightful) as part of the detox process…..but I decided to try this practice (as introduced by Scout in a previous blog), and it pretty much eliminated this problem. Cool.

8) DO THE SALT-WATER FLUSH. Every day. I’m serious. Unless its making you truly ill, in which case you must listen to your own body. This is the first time I’ve been truly diligent about it (I usually just do it every other day, or only for the first 3 or 4 days). this time I’m doing it every day. After day 4 it seemed like I was pretty much done and clean….not the case! Hear I am on day 8 and its like a whole second wave of cleansing is happening. And I feel like I’ve had a pretty healthy diet my whole life. I’m shocked. It’s definitely inspiration to keep fasting until its really over.

9) DRINK NETTLES TEA. This is not part of the classic Master Cleanser protocol, but nettles are packed with nutrients, and aid in detoxification of the organs. Drinking a stout cup of nettles tea while fasting is for me like eating a big salad — really nourishing and refreshing.

10) ENJOY THE EXTRA TIME! Without all that time spent preparing and eating food, there can be extra hours on each day. Do things you “never have time” to do. Take a contemplative walk. Meditate. Sit and pet the cat. Read. Study Tarot. Write letters. Enjoy your Self.

Master Cleanser: The Dark Side?

Well, let me first say that I have done this fast numerous times with great results. Nothing has worked better to clear up my skin. My digestion has greatly improved. I’ve managed to break some pretty major bad eating cycles this way. But upon further research of Mr. Stanley Burroughs, the guy who devised the fast, some pretty dodgy stuff comes up.

Among other things, he was convicted of 2nd degree felony murder for his treatment of a poor unwitting cancer patient. The patient was to live on only master cleanser (including the saltwater flush) for a month, and also to recieve abdominal massage from Burroughs. He died a painful death. Apparently Burroughs was really stubborn about the way he was treating the patient,  the patient must have been really trusting, and the result was tragic. I wonder if this had anything to do with the amount of sugar in the maple syrup in the recipe? Doesn’t cancer feed on sugar? And in my massage training, I’ve been taught never to directly massage a cancerous area. Maybe Burroughs didn’t know these things, and had that intense and stubborn “My way is THE way” attitude that isn’t so uncommon amongst health “gurus”. Maybe he had success with other cancer patients following the same regime?

I have wondered about the sugary element of the fast, since sugar is often what I’m trying to detox from. But the truth is, that by the time I’m done with the fast, sugar is the last thing I crave.  Maybe  because I’m just so sick of it!  And even though I am normally a person who gets lightheaded if I don’t eat regularly, I never seem to have trouble with this on the master cleanser, which is remarkable and quite probably thanks to the maple syrup. I’m not sure about the chemistry, if maple syrup metabolizes much differently from other sugars (I’m sure Stanley Burroughs would say yes! He claims even diabetics can benefit from this fast, and get off of insulin.)  I read so many different things. It seems that during the fast it must be processed very efficiently, since its the only food the body is getting glucose from. But maybe a note – if you have cancer and are thinking of fasting as a cure, perhaps Master Cleanser is not the best option!

At any rate, when researching the Master Cleanser much more positive information comes up than negative. Many people seem to have benefited greatly from Burroughs’  ideas. I guess its another example of trusting one’s body, ”Take what you can use and leave the rest”, as one of my favorite yoga teachers is always saying.

Some moral support, huh! Hope I haven’t scared anyone away from fasting….

‘Tis the season for…..Master Cleanser!

Well, it’s that time of year. The relatives have cleared out, the last of the turkey scraps have been fed to the dogs, and all the good sweets are gone. I’m feeling sluggish, my blood feels like molasses, my skin’s a wreck, and I’ve been waking up feeling cranky and achy every morning with my caffeine addiction in full bloom. Plus I’ve taken to drinking every night. So, I ‘ve finally embarked on that fast I’ve been meaning to do for the last couple months.

My fast of choice is the classic Master Cleanser, sometimes known as the “lemonade diet”, made popular by Stanley Burroughs in the 1950’s. My main reason for choosing this fast is that it’s pretty simple. You just subsist on a mixture of lemon or lime juice, grade B maple syrup, and a dash of cayenne pepper in water (I prefer the water to be hot) for at least 10 days. The lemon juice helps break up mucus, the maple syrup provides essential nutrients like iron and B vitamins (grade B has more of these than grade A), and the cayenne pepper further helps to break up toxins. It also helps warm the body which is pretty important in a wintertime fast. The only other thing you consume (and this is the hard part!) is a quart of warm salt water (about a teaspoon per cup) every morning, or at least every other morning. This is to thoroughly cleanse the digestive tract, and while it’s not exactly pleasant, it is – ahem – very rewarding. To omit this part is to miss out on some of the prime benefits of the cleanse. Just make sure you are near a toilet for at least an hour after drinking it – wouldn’t want to be caught on the subway, that’s for sure!

Why fast? Well, in the body a huge amount of energy is devoted to consumption and digestion of food. The idea behind fasting is that once the digestive system is cleansed and at rest, that energy can then be devoted to whatever other repairs the body is in need of. A great deal of healing can take place at the cellular level in all of the bodies systems.

Not only is a lot of the body’s energy spent on food, so much of our mental energy is tied up with the whens and wheres and what are we going to eat. Clearly food is not just nourishment for us, it is a major provider of comfort and distraction. When we give it up for a time it becomes apparent how much of the desire for food is mental rather than physical. And if we go long enough on a fast to finally stop obsessing about wanting to eat, a certain quality of clarity and sensitivity arises in both body and mind. Fasting does for the digestive system what meditation does for the mind. It facilitates the shift from “doing” to “being” for a spell. It’s a really great way to change negative patterns, get out of ruts (mental and physical), and determine food allergies.

The recommended time for the fast is at least 10 days, and my experience has been that if I can just make it past day 4, the rest is much easier. The really hard part is not going nuts and overeating when ending the fast. Stanley Burroughs recommends 2 days of orange juice followed by easing into vegetable soup. I prefer grapefruit instead of orange, and rarely can make it 2 days of just the juice. Instead, I start letting myself have miso soup on the 2nd day off the master cleanser solution.

I am on day 2 of the fast now. I will be blogging more about fasting in the coming days….just in case anyone wants to join me and wants some moral support…….or to lend me some!

Happy New Year!