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Maybe you are interested in fasting to improve your physical or spiritual health. Maybe you are just curious.  It is present in cultures and religions around the world, but is gaining appreciation in the west.

Jesus went fasting for forty days and forty nights, but this level of cleansing and enlightenment is almost unthinkable to us mere mortals.

Some fasts are just from dusk to dawn, some fasts are juice fasts, water fasts, and some people just give up one thing for a few weeks.

I am interested in why it is so hard to give some things up. Giving up alcohol, coffee, drugs, cigarettes, can be understandably difficult since they are known to be addictive. Sometimes I have to wonder why some other things are perceived as difficult.

For example, imagine giving up all devices with screens for a month, or even whatever it is you eat for breakfast every day. I have seen my child go into a fit of rage because I took away their iPad. I have seen grown men and women go into what I can only describe as a state of confusion and panic at the mere mention of giving up gluten, or doughnuts, or pop.

What the hell is going on here?

Are some people born with less willpower?

I remember a term that was popular about ten years ago. I haven’t heard it much lately. It was called the “addictive personality.” In short, some people just “have that personality” where they will easily become addicted to something. It’s almost like we were given a label that showed “yes, I am that type.”

I really think this “personality” can change. It’s less like a personal trait, and more like a level of fitness. In other words, mental effort and control is like a muscle. You can “exercise” your abilities to be mindful of your daily actions and control them as you please.

A few years ago I gave up gluten. I was highly incentivized to do so because as I discovered, I am allergic to it.  If I am exposed, I not only develop digestive issues and swelling, but I also get eczema to the point where my skin will crack and bleed. It’s not pretty. Yet when transitioning there were five or six occasions where I found myself holding a half-eaten bread stick, or slice of pizza, or croissant, suddenly realizing that I had devoured some of it unconsciously.

The laws of entropy.

If you are not in control, creating order, then disorder will take over. You become a victim to things other than what you desire. You succumb to the “norm” around you. The norm are people eating processed foods that are expensive and cause weight gain, sugar that causes diabetes, processed meats that increase the risk of cancer, drinking beer after hockey games so your body can’t recover, the list goes on. The outside “normal” is a huge soup of disorder, backed up with advertising telling us to eat second (or third or fourth rate) products.

When is the last time you saw an ad for fresh fruit and vegetables? Now you get it, right?

So when you give something up, it’s not just about giving up the thing itself, it’s about giving up SOME THING. It’s about the EFFORT, because that little bit of effort is an exercise. It is a prayer for strength. The more you exercise, the stronger you get. This helps you grow mentally, physically and spiritually. It makes you more connected, devoted, and more present for everyone.

While fasting, is the effort that makes you stronger.

About ten years ago a patient came in with headaches and a sore foot. I examined him and realized there was a fracture in his foot, and told hime he should go to the hospital to have an x-ray of his foot. He said he was too busy, and didn’t want to wait for four hours, so he wasn’t going to go. I adjusted him, and he left.

He was coming in three times per week for his headaches, and each visit, he complained about his headaches that wouldn’t get better. I would tell him every time “by the way, your foot is broken, go to the hospital.” He said he had no time to go to the hospital.

After a little over two weeks of this he walked in with a cast on his foot. I asked him “what happened to your foot” and he said “my foot is broken, and in addition since I put on the cast, strangely my headache symptoms are gone. He then theorized how the weight of the cast changed his muscle activity and cured his headachs.”

I corrected him and told him no, that’s not why your headaches went away. They went away because you started taking care of yourself. Your attitude has changed.

I have had this happen a few times with casts on the leg.  It happened one time with a broken arm.  Also, once with a mole that was obviously skin cancer.  They were all things people didn’t want to deal with.  Everybody tries to theorize how the cast (or incision or whatever) made their problem feel better.

What’s the real reason?

There is a common denominator here that made every person’s back pain improve: They started to pay attention to themselves. They stopped letting themselves drift in the stream of society.  They stopped letting the disorder carry them away, and started to take control of their lives again.  It was the effort that made the difference.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”  – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

What is the one thing you can take away, to give your life more focus and make it more pure.

 

Gary Barone has owned NewPort Village Chiropractic since 2000. Follow us on social media to see our new edition of “Pure: The Detoxification Conversation” Coming soon

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