The other day, Shanti and I were talking about what we thought was the most transformative workshop we had at the Tree of Life. We’ve been doing spiritual fasting workshops together since 1988, and without a doubt we both agreed that our most transformative workshop we offer is the spiritual fasting retreat. It is transformative on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The question arises – Why?
Firstly, there is a real power to spiritual fasting. Spiritual fasting has been part of every spiritual tradition in the world, including Judeo-Christian, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim. It is mentioned 87 times in the Bible. The Greek greats like Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras fasted to purify the mind and spirit in order to better perceive the Truth. After a week of spiritual fasting and shaktipat meditation, up to 80-90% of the participants have an awakening of the spiritual energy known as the kundalini in the yogic system. On the physical plane, a powerful healing energy is also awakened as what I call the vital life force is activated. It is the primordial healing energy. This vital life force helps people to release physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual toxins they have stored.
“All the vitality and all the energy I have, comes to me because my body is purified by fasting.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi
The setting is important too. Long before I created the Tree of Life, it became clear to me that the best way to do a spiritual fast was in a pristine environment so that the healthy emotional, mental, and spiritual harmonics of one’s life would have the least amount of toxic interference. Since 1988, long before we started the Rejuvenation Center we chose very nice sites to do these fasts so that people could unwind on every level. Part of my selection of the Tree of Life’s location, in Patagonia, Arizona, in the pristine desert was for this purpose. It has the fourth cleanest air in the United States and a quiet supportive setting in the mystery of the desert. This allows people to let go on every level and build the vital force to do its healing on every level. This is distinctly different from fasting in a city or even most home environments.
Spiritual fasting helps people to discover their holy rhythm and to align with the rhythm of the living earth and universe. Spiritual fasting is also a time to move back into homeostasis and recover from the imbalancing influence of a toxic world. It is also a time to harmonize with the beautiful melodious inner music of who we really are. Spiritual fasting is a time to slow ourselves down to discover our sacred design, which includes both our short term and long term life purpose at this point in our personal history. During the fast people connect to their personal willpower and become empowered to reenter the world and maintain their balance, with renewed energy, hope, with spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical strength. Spiritual fasting is feasting on all of life’s energies.
Perhaps the most important thing about Spiritual Fasting, distinguishing it from other approaches, is the intent to heal on every level and the safe setting that is created to help people heal on every level. In that sense it offers a potential rebirth into a new life. This is the deep secret of spiritual fasting.
At the Tree of Life we set the spiritual fasting tone by asking people this perennial Essene question – “Dost thou sacrifice the eternal for that which dieth in an hour?” Spiritual Fasting helps one to address this within themselves. For all these reasons we feel that this workshop seems to have the most powerful effect. The power of our spiritual fast with meditations twice daily, including daily Shaktipat, Kali Ray TriYoga daily, daily spiritual question and answer sessions, spiritual discussions, and group support, creates an environment that activates these healing and spiritual forces.
We wanted to share this because within the live food, vegan, and holistic health movements there are many superfoods, supplements, and gadgets for cultivating health. However this 5,000 year-old approach still seems the most fundamental, elegantly simplistic, and profound in helping people access the deep healing force than anything else we have. The body is self-cleansing, self-healing, and self-regenerating. It is a God-given gift to all of us. Spiritual fasting elevates the soul and our experience of the soul. Spiritual fasting liberates the body and mind from worldly desires so we can revel in our natural deep desire for God. Fasting helps us to become a super conductor for the Divine. Spiritual Fasting helps us to shift from biochemical nutrition to cosmic nutrition. We are all divinely blessed with the potential of this gift.
Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D.