It was a Sunday. The right opportunity had come. My wife was out of town. My daughter was with her granny. Limited personal & professional obligations. The day also coincided with Ekadashi (at least I thought it did). A day of fasting I decided.
Ekadashi is the 11th day after the full moon and the 11th day after the new moon. Ekadasi literally means the 11th day. Ekadashi is roughly a fortnightly occurrence. In our culture, this day has a special significance. So I thought, why not today?
Summary of Fasting experiment
- Overall fasting time: 9PM 12th March to 7AM 14th March (34 hrs)
- What did I eat during the period? Nothing
- What did I drink during the time? Water
- Previous night: I ate my dinner late – around 9PM i.e., on 12th March. Not an ideal way to start a fast I hear. Light early dinner is what is recommended.
- I slept later than usual, at 1:50AM. Usually 11PM.
The day of the fast
- Woke up around 8AM. I am not sure about the time as I consciously avoided using phone the first thing in the morning.
- After attending to the natural urgencies & cleaning up, I got a call on my cell, which is when I saw the time to be as 8:30AM
- I practiced yogasana for about 10 mins. Did not do my usual routine of an hour’s practice as it might not go well with the fast.
- I had a bath & visited my daughter at her granny’s place
- Played with her for a while. Took her out for a long walk to a nearby temple. Took her back to her granny’s and came back home.
- I switched off my phone to cut off any unintended usage of phone. I did not read any books. I did not use my laptop.
- I meditated for as long as I could
- Only things that I allowed myself to do were
- Write (on a book)
- Drink water
- Chores of the house
- Avoid physically strenuous efforts
- Late noon, I started recalling a cooking video of a kurma along with hot parathas. That is when I felt like, let me order something online and eat – while watching something good on Netflix. But I didn’t.
- Instead I picked up my pen, sat on my chair and started writing whatever came to me.
- There was a calming breeze outside
After a long, long, really long time I had nothing to look forward to.
- I even masked the clock in the house so that I wouldn’t keep looking at the time.
- While I’m sure my mind was already made up that I’m going to not eat till the next day, hunger did not seem like a problem really.
- I’d already done a 24 hr fasting in the past. So I know I could handle it.
- Since I had reduced/avoided many factors that might cause any kind of draining of my mental/physical energies – the only thing left were my thoughts, the breeze, the trees outside the window, the writing & sleeping & sipping water.
- I was feeling sleepy a lot.
- Every time I walked to the kitchen to get some water to drink, my eyes would wander over to the fruit basket.
- There was one time, when I picked up my phone and tried to unlock it to realize it was switched off.
- I would feel dizzy at times. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the lack of sleep or food or both. In any case I did not feel any stress.
- I also designed a retreat for a similar kind of experience (not just fasting all the time). The goal of the retreat, I wrote, was to break patterns, relax and bring clarity.
- Then I went to sleep. It felt like I slept for an hour and a half.
- I hydrated myself well.
- After my sleep, I felt a little fresh and energetic. I went outside to buy fruits/veggies for home
- On my way back, I watched people play cricket in a ground.
- I also made a list of important To dos that were pending to be done. I did not want to do any of them today. Making the list I thought would not bother me during the day.
- Late evening – my wife & daughter came home. I had a good time with them and slept early (by 11PM)
Break the fast
- I woke up early naturally. I was slightly dizzy. I broke the fast at 7am with plain buttermilk.
- After 30 mins, I ate bananas
- I cooked a simple rice based preparation & ate it by 9am.
I always wanted to do this and I am happy that I was able to do this. It also made me realize the power of fasting. There is a fear that fasting causes gastric/acidic issues. It did not happen to me on that day. I believe it is due to my lack of interaction that might have caused any kind of stress.
The beauty of fasting is that it is a good way to calm the mind. I hope to continue to do this at least once a month. Let us see!