Experiment 2: Fasting for 34 hours

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

  • 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

Part 1

  • 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.

Part 2

  • 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
    • meditate
    • Walk
    • Chores of the house
    • Sleep
    • 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.

Part 3

  • 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.

Conclusion

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!

One comment

  1. My mom has been doing this Ekadashi fasting since last 15 years. To my wonder she manages to do all her routine work without even hesitation while fasting. I often ask her to take atleast milk but she says if she eats or drinks something that would create problems like gastric or acidity. She is happily doing it and I never felt like she is struggling to do it. I never got inspired by her but now your blog making me to think! Thanks Anil 🙂

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