As you may have gathered from my previous posts, my work often explores our relationship with our bodies and how we pay attention to our somatic experiences. The Greek word “soma” refers to the living body, and my work is rooted in the belief that the mind and body are not separate entities but rather interdependent aspects of our being.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a personal experience related to the body-mind connection. Most of you have likely heard conversations about “detox” – a buzzword in modern times that many people turn to for various health conditions. For the past fifteen years, I’ve been travelling to Koh Samui in Thailand every other year to detox my body and re-centre my mind. This practice helps me tune into the connection between my body and mind. It wasn’t until my second trip in March 2004 that I started to tune into what might – or might not – be happening.

What is fasting?

Fasting is a spiritual practice observed throughout history in many cultures. A person who fasts for spiritual, health, or religious purposes willingly abstains from some or all foods and fluids for some time. The specifics of the fast vary depending on each culture’s customs and beliefs. For example, Catholicism observes a forty-day partial fast during Lent, while other religions like Hinduism and Judaism observe different types of fasts. Fasting is also an important part of Islam, being the fourth of the Five Pillars, with Ramadan being one of the most well-known fasting observances.

What was/is my process?

In 2001, I undertook my first fast. Since then, I have completed six significant fasts in Samui, ranging from one week to fourteen days. Additionally, I have undertaken numerous smaller fasts. I do not fast for religious reasons but rather to achieve continuous body-mind development and physical well-being. To enhance this experience, I follow a daily fasting routine with other self-care practices such as meditation, yoga, walking, and massage. By stepping out of my everyday experiences, I allow myself to develop new patterns and ways of seeing and existing in the world.

Why do I fast?

I fast to gain greater body-mind insight. This, for me, is a place that inspires and creates. It is a deep, energetic place and a doorway to increased awareness, somatic understanding, and presence.

Many people nowadays are not engaging in traditional religious and spiritual practices. I am curious if the prevalent interest in ‘detoxing’ in the West is an attempt to reconnect with and feel more at home in our bodies. Fasting and cleansing through detoxing can enhance the body’s ability to feel more energised and bring vitality to the physical, mental, and spiritual systems. I believe fasting and detoxing gently peel away the detritus of modern-day living layer by layer, so I will head to Thailand in April to complete my next fast.

In summary

Please understand that fasting is not for everyone and should not be undertaken without seeking medical advice regarding your particular situation. It works for me but may not work for you. I have also spent many years tuning into my body-mind needs, and Samui is a bit like my happy place – a healthy holiday ritual – in a beautiful part of the world! The other important caveat to this discussion is that, for me, balance is everything, which includes a healthy plant-based diet and daily exercise and meditation.

As you can appreciate, I will be offline for the next three weeks, not taking new counselling or therapy referrals. That said, I am happy to follow up on any query you have regarding your situation or booking your first consult on my return in mid-April. I also welcome questions you might have about my retreat program in Thailand. Wishing you good health, and see you in a few weeks.

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR AND IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT. PLEASE REACH OUT TO A REGISTERED THERAPIST IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS AND REQUIRE ASSISTANCE. © Reed Everingham Consulting