today i completed a five day fast. my diet for the last five days consisted solely of fruits, organic juices, organic nuts & water. also, meditation, prayer & rest were prominent in my ongoing quarterly spiritual practice. as a result i feel calm, peaceful & serene.
i started fasting well over a decade ago. my innate curiosity led me to try something i thought could benefit my health. i did not envision fasting as a way of life. i thought it was something i would do once, twice, maybe three times. nothing more, nothing less.
the first time i tried to fast i didn't know what i was doing. my ego, false pride & image would not allow me to ask for help. i heard through the grapevine fasting for three days would be a safe way to start. i didn't know anything about preparing for the fast and/or breaking the fast.
i remember someone telling me the first meal of the day is called breakfast for spiritual purposes. i recall him saying we sleep (meaning rest) before we eat breakfast & rest is an important part of fasting. i'd never thought of this & felt excited about learning something new & potentially valuable.
still, i neglected to ask my friend for guidance in this new venture. i live with a compromised immune system. yet, it didn't occur to consult my primary care physician about fasting. in some ways i was doing this secretively because i wanted the satisfaction of being right.
i always felt ashamed of my body. i was a skinny kid with a funny last name - just like obama. i never learned how to cook for myself. when the females in my family told me to get out of the kitchen i complied with relief. moreover, healthy eating was not part of our family practice. at all.
my basic four food groups were grease, sugar, pork & chocolate. more was never enough. i thought food would make me socially acceptable. i was wrong. i became addicted to fast food. fast food is slow suicide. these old, useless patterns damaged my emotional, physical & spiritual well-being. i realized something had to give.
i thought fasting would solve my unresolved issues with food. although i don't look like it, i have a weight problem...i can't wait to eat. i eat when i feel angry, bored, depressed, lonely, sad, etc. certain foods give me a false sense of comfort. i needed new coping skills & unbeknowst to me, fasting would become my salvation.
instead of eating meat at night, i indulged in popcorn, potato chips, pretzels & trail mix. don't ask why. at the time, it seemed better than kfc, mcdonald's or white castle. i didn't tell anyone what i was doing. after three days of this i rewarded myself with popeye's chicken. don't asky why.
popeye's had me calling ralph in the bathroom. i got sick. pain has a unique way of getting your attention, unless you continue to stay in denial. ashamed, embarrassed & frustrated i took a risk & asked someone for help. a woman at the health food store gave me some simple suggestions. an associate of mine loaned me his book on spiritual waste. i had a series of colonics for the first time.
i fasted for three days, seven days, ten days & once, during a hot summer, 14 days. although it was not my intention i lost 30 pounds in 14 days. i went from 200 pounds to 170 pounds; not like luther, but the weight loss was noticeable. over a period of time i decided to fast every 90 days.
five day fasts build self-discipline, improve my conscious contact with god & reaffirm a passionate desire for self-love. i try to avoid stressful people & toxic situations. i welcome the opportunity to serve my wounded temple. most importantly, i feel good about myself because i'm invested in the liberation of my body, mind & spirit.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.