Fast Experiment Wrap Up: What I Learned

Miss the previous update about my fast experiment? Read it here.

It's over. Four weeks of skipping dinner and, instead, filling the dinner hour with a period of meditation and self-reflection. What did I learn? What did the whole experiment amount to?


In the truest sense of the word. That's not exactly true, there were some practical, micro-learnings but the overarching realization was this.

You are already you

Going back to the original tape and listening to myself talk about, "Can I dig deeper, dissolve further" and come into a greater understanding about what it's like to go to bed hungry every night, like many who live in poverty do.

There was an "I" in there. There was somebody thinking this routine might create a change, a result—effect an outcome.

The state of Self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been.”
— Ramana Maharshi

I read that quote on Day 1 of the program, wrote it down, and could have stopped there because that's what it's all about.

Ramana Maharshi also used to talk about how what is destined to be, will be, despite your efforts to prevent it and what is not destined to be, won't be, despite your efforts to realize it.

This means we are, in a sense, powerless.

Our power lies in realizing we are powerless. By realizing our inability to effect change, we free ourselves of the struggle to effect it.


We need reasons to start a process

The initial ideas that made me start the fasting routine, though they turned out not to be the deeper reasons for it, were needed to get it going. It took only a few days to realize something different was going on.

Fasting is used for internal cleansing, when coupled with meditation, results multiply.

Cleansing. That's what was needed for me. It took me by surprise though because everything I was going through — more or less a mild dark night of the soul (perhaps a tremor of more dramatic turmoil to come later) — was so symptomatic of the healing journey I felt I completed some time ago.

Nevertheless, something got digested over the past month, emotions, unsettling thoughts. The result is that I'm around 4 kilos lighter and internally feel as if some new chapter of life has started, which timed out nicely with a birthday that is just a few days away.

Or, that's all a story. ;)

Suffering is not a good strategy to get the attention of the Universe

More practically, I just read the Da Vinci Code and am reminded of the character Silas, an ascetic monk who wears a cilice belt. The cilice belt is worn around the upper thigh and is made of a kind barbed wire material which penetrates the surface layer of the skin and inflicts a subtle, constant pain on the wearer.

It's used religiously to create a connection to God, based in the belief that it is auspicious to suffer in this way. We celebrate those who suffer, isn't it? We take it as an indication of selflessness and humility.

Admittedly, in likewise fashion, I thought a little painful, self-sacrifice would help the effort to build the Malezi School in Nairobi. That was a mistake. I realized the world doesn't need more self-sacrifice or suffering.

It's the opposite that will help the school. Sharing enthusiastically. Continue to dig deeper into the story of it, continue to find those golden nuggets of impact that others will resonate with.

All in all, I'm glad I went through with this experiment but I believe the more challenging work is the work of connection, as I just mentioned.