fasting is an integral and important part in indian lifestyle. the importance of fasting has been praised in many indian scriptures. thus we have many religious vrats like ekadashi fasting, purnima vrat, mahashivratri vrat, navratri vrat. every week of the day is associated with a god. e.g. 16 somvar (monday) vrat is done by unmarried girls for lord shiva.
fasting on religious days is considered to bring many spiritual benefits. however, you can fast on any day. it is good for your body, mind and spiritual well being.
why fasting/vrat is good for you:
1. good for body health – it gives rest to your body. so the body gets time and energy to clean itself from toxins and it also heals itself. thus the body becomes healthy and recovers the lost health. thats why you always feel lighter when you eat fasting food. at the same time, its also important that next day of fasting you should avoid eating too much spicy, fried or too unhealthy food. as then you lose the benefit of fasting on previous day.
2. makes the mind alert and pure – the fasting food is satvic and does not excite the mind. the food ingredients and spices which excites the mind are not used in fasting food. this calms down the mind and also makes it pure and subtle. it also increases your will power. always remember, that if you decide to fast then no matter how strong is the temptation, don’t break it. breaking fast in between will weaken your will power and lower your self esteem.
3. good for meditation or spiritual practice – since on fasting days, we eat light food which is easy to digest. the less energy is going in digesting the food. thus more energy is available for going deep in meditation. fasting food is the best food for someone who wants to deepen his spiritual practice. from spiritual point of you, its best to fast during religious days like navratri, mahashivratri, janamashtami, ekadashi, purnima or the day devoted to your chosen deity.
4. respect for food – when you are hungry then you know the importance of food. many times people waste food which is very bad considering that not everyone is fortunate to get 3 meals in a day. millions of people go to bed with empty stomach. so fasting inculcate respect for food in you. in india food is called as god because it nourishes us. from childhood we are taught not to waste a single grain of rice. instead of throwing left over food it is best to offer it to birds or to animals. always try to cook food which is enough for your needs.
5. teaches self control – it teaches you self control over yourself. many times it happens that we are not hungry but we still eat because we want to enjoy the tasty food. over eating is very common nowadays. if you want to be in charge of your eating habits like what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat, then consider fasting once in a week or fortnight. ideally the food should nourish your body and mind. you should be in control of your food habits. you should not eat then your body is not hungry. instead of your taste buds, your body needs should decide what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat.
6. teaches tolerance – when we are hungry then we understand the pain which hunger brings in your stomach. so it teaches us to be more generous to poor people who are struggling for food.