What is fasting? A withholding, a deprivation and a stepping back from. A creation of space between a state of need and state of fulfillment. The space called desire, called longing, also, called a fast.
A fast starts off easy, from a place of satiation, of contentment, of oneness with the object of desire or ignorance of it. Then a gradual separation; and with every movement away from satiation, we experience a rise of an energy, we will call desire and longing.
A burning sensation that starts off like a one wick candle and rises with the potential of a wild fire.
A quiet need can turn into an obsessive crave. How intensely we experience the energy depends on our capacity to contain, our perceived expectation of relief, our stamina and our general physical, emotional and mental maturity.
The reason why only some people enjoy fasting though is not their ability to endure and achieve it, but their capacity to enjoy focusing on the energy of desire and longing itself. By slowly detaching from the object that will bring satiation (food, water, union, or anything else), to the energy generated from the desire itself. That flame rising inside that can be tamed and channeled towards deeper connection with the self (our physical experience of the soul) and therefore, a deeper connection with the Source, the Divine, the Universal power, God, our Allah…the Breath…
There is a hidden beauty, a sweetness, in basking in the warmth of desire…that longing…the longing for a sip of water to quench the thirst and bring a state of relief and nourishment, or for a loaf of bread to bring about a state of fullness and content…
The warmth of desire in and of itself is a driving force, a nourishment of the soul, a tingling and aliveness of the body and a great message to the heart, for only the eyes of the open hearted to see.
Fasting is a great teacher, it takes us by the hand and shows us the way to enjoy the state of desire as much as, if not more than, the state of satiation.
We don’t only fast voluntarily, we do so naturally. With every unfulfilled desire, we are made to fast, religious and traditional fasting prepares us and makes us aware of the pronounced but often confused emotion of desire and also that of satisfaction and of our capacity to create fulfilling experiences out of both.
Voluntary fasting is but a mindful practice of all the fasting we do in every day life. Those of us who will learn to use the desire energy in a day of fasting, will also learn to use it when money is short, when love is lost, when the heart is half full and when the mind is chaotic…
To fall in love with seeking before finding
To dance to the flames of longing before sitting down to rest
To sing the songs of desire in full blast until its heard in the heavens. And better yet, until the heavens echo
To run the empty spaces of “not having yet“ barefoot and liberated, before arriving at the safe but confining space of “having”
To take that fire and light up a hundred lanterns in the dark nights of overstuffed hearts.
And what is the beauty of satisfaction if not its fleeting nature…its ebb and flow…like the moon playing peek-a-boo with a happy child. It’s there, but it’s not…and the excitement while the clouds are amass is just as when the moon reappears.
Fasting shows us the joy of being on the way…to just enjoy food and water after a fast is missing the show and arriving just in time for the applause.
When we fast, we slowly empty ourselves of all else, so we can see, hear and feel our desire, our longing…and to enjoy the abundant energy of its flame and the generous holding space of its warmth.
Next time you fast, voluntarily or naturally, notice the energy in your desire, emanating from within you, slowly lose sight of what it is that you desire and focus only on how that energy feels inside you, if its too soft, breathe into it so its flames are enough to light up your way, and If its too strong, breathe into it so that your soothing and gentle breath would tame it so that it won’t burn you down inside…A gentle bright flame, a driving force, yours to channel, yours to love and care for.