Over the past year I’ve met a handful of people who have shared the transformative power of fasting in their lives. The more I heard the more intrigued I became. It was soon obvious that it was time for me to dust off this ancient spiritual discipline and put it to work in the here and now.
The timing couldn’t have been more critical. I was at yet another crossroads in my life and while this was not one of the many, previous radical shifts where tectonic plates buckled and shook, I knew something was bubbling beneath the surface that needed addressed. I had to motivate myself to move to the next level. Seeing as the level I was on was already tremendous, I knew this would take something new and transformative and I thought fasting may be the key. I quickly began exploring my options.
An attendee at one of our events extolled her experience with the Daniel Fast, a 21-day strict vegan plan to physical and spiritual health derived from Susan Gregory’s book, The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body. As a 15-year Atkins proponent, this was going to be a radical shift indeed. The full range of restrictions meant no caffeine, no sugar, no sweeteners, no chemicals, no alcohol, no cheese, no eggs, no milk, and no meat. You are only allowed food that comes from seeds, and to drink water, lots and lots and lots of water. Talk about a throwback to Adam and Eve’s dining habits in the Garden of Eden!
I bought the book in April and picked a start date of May 1st. I had several high-visibility speeches scheduled in June and needed to be at my peak not just for the delivery, but the preparation as well. Lastly, I needed clarity and discernment regarding a business decision I had been mulling over for several years and was in the process of implementing.
Now my life is pretty tremendous because of the people I surround myself with and the fact that I read great books at least 75 percent of my waking hours. But I felt as if I wasn’t operating on all cylinders. I was going through the motions, but I felt somewhat distracted, fragmented, foggy-headed and unable to finish tasks. I also felt I was not achieving my maximum each day and was allowing too many time sucks to take away precious minutes. I was good, just not great.
So after two weeks of preparation, I embarked on my very first fast! The book is divided into three sections. The first covers the Biblical history of fasting and the impact it had on individuals as they were allowing God to fully work through them. It makes the case for fasting so beautifully that it made me excited to begin! And this was huge because the only time I had ever fasted before was for my colonoscopy, and I thought it was going to give me a nervous breakdown.
The second section of the book is full of menus, recipes, and wonderful tools to help you map out your eating plan so you can stick to it! If you love fruits and vegetables, you will be in Heaven with the amazing range of options she provides. Preparedness is one of the critical elements to getting the most out of the Daniel Fast and if you take the time to study the book, you cannot fail unless you chose to do so.
The third section is a 21-day devotional which dovetails beautifully with the journey. After all, the purpose of this partial fast it to gain spiritual cleansing and clarity and the author does a magnificent job of keeping the reader’s attention and heart focused on this fact. It even has a frequently asked questions section at the back which completely covered all my items.
I finished my fast on May 22nd and reflected back on my journey. First, I lost seven pounds. The removal of sugar and other processed carbohydrates from my diet made my face look so much slimmer that someone even asked if I had had work done! I felt more in tune with my body. When you cut out the preservatives, steroids, and chemicals, and ingest only natural, organic materials, you actually feel much more alive. I truly felt a sense of heightened wellness and increased awareness of my emotions, needs, and desires.
But the best was yet to come. With each day I felt my mind awaken. I actually felt the fog lift within the first few days and I began seeing things so clearly I had to almost pull back on the reins because I would began assessing situations aloud and needed to make sure I tempered my comments if necessary. My creativity went off the charts. I had speeches done weeks before they were due. My blogging picked back up. I did the outlines for my next two books. I even read four books that had been on my “Books to Read” pile for years.
But the spiritual benefits were the best. It was a truly soulful time for me to connect with God in a way that had been missing. My busyness had kept our relationship from reaching the heights I knew it could, but now, with such a more personal, meaningful reality in my life, I have a sense of peace that comes only from walking hand-in-hand daily with my Creator and letting Him unveil His plan for me to flourish and prosper.
And there were other benefits, too. I also “fasted” with my time and what I allowed to enter my brain. I did not watch the news on TV. I stayed off the computer unless I was at work. When you get rid of all the things in your life that don’t add value it is amazing how much time you have in a day! I cleaned out my outdoor shed! I ransacked my closets and gave boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes to wonderful organizations. I cleaned out my summer kitchen! I spent time in silence just reading books that would magnify this spiritual cleanse. I saw the world in much more vivid colors and with a much clearer mindset.
So now that I am officially one week past the finish date, I have decided to remain on this path with a few tweaks. I have eaten some cheese and eggs in the past week. I also had a piece of salmon on a salad and a cup of coffee. But other than that, the journey and results have been so tremendous I won’t change much else. You see, discipline is hard, but I love the results more, so much so that it makes the work easy and the burden light.
In the end, only two questions remained: why did it take me so long to tune into the benefits of fasting? And when am I going to start again? I highly recommend the spiritual and physical cleanse of The Daniel Fast. When we treat our body, mind, and soul like a temple, we can truly and triumphantly assume our inheritance as children of the Most High God.