Recently I’ve been further wondering what spiritual effects we can expect when we refrain from food. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
But mere abstention from food has no effect on the spirit. It is only a symbol, a reminder. Otherwise it is of no importance.
The Baha’i Teachings say food or illness do not touch the soul. So why do we fast and how does it enhance our spiritual experience? In this article, I’ll explore some main themes addressing the symbolic nature of abstaining from food, followed by some reflection questions you may find useful. These thoughts are based on my understanding of the Writings, my personal experiences, and my work as a holistic healthcare practitioner (and if you’d like to read more you may wish to check out my book, The Supreme Remedy). Continue reading
As Baha’i Blog ends its seventh year, I can’t help but be amazed at the different perspectives with which a diversity of Baha’i Blog writers have approached the 19 day Baha’i Fast. For example, Kamelia wrote about fasting for love, Collis shared some health tips, Chetan wrote about conquering his fear of fasting, Amy shared her experiences fasting while caring for young children, Naysan wrote about what the Fast helps us strengthen, and I wrote about how you can partake and participate in the Fast, even when you’re eating.
Leading up to, and during the Fast, I like to revisit the compilation called The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, and this year, my reading has me thinking about four spiritual benefits of fasting: Continue reading
We are all human and that means we are in the same predicament: we are like a bird that is stuck in the clay of the world, its wings sullied and heavy; we have two selves, one lower, the other higher. So, our task in life is to elevate our souls and escape the grip of the ego. But how?
This is no easy endeavour. But according to the Baha’i Writings, there are a number of ways through which we can grow spiritually. Here are six ways that I’m striving to better myself: Continue reading
The fast is beautiful, spirituality refreshing and hard…and it can get so much harder when you become a parent! Suddenly you not only have to fast but now you have to a be a good parent at the same time (something that can feel pretty impossible even when we’re fully nourished). This year I’ve given myself seven strategies for fasting with three kids with as much mindfulness, patience and good-humour as possible. Continue reading
Every year during March Baha’is observe a 19 day Fast. According to Abdu’l-Baha, fasting symbolizes detachment from earthly things. It is my understanding that fasting is a time for aligning our inner compass with God’s will and getting a grip on our lower nature.
Physical fasting is a symbol of that abstinence, and is a reminder; that is, just as a person abstains from physical appetites, he is to abstain from self-appetites and self-desires.
It seems like the Fast is a perfect time to challenge our insistent self, set some goals and start a journey towards a destination. So why not dedicate the period of Fast for a specific purpose? Continue reading
As we move into the early days of the Fast, here are some Baha’i Blog resources and a few other great finds from around the web dedicated to this special time of year. They include articles that offer a variety of perspectives on the Fast. There’s a diversity of personal reflections, music, videos and a quiz! We hope these resources, listed in no particular order, give you some food for thought (pun intended!) during these spiritually rejuvenating days. Continue reading
As I join Baha’is around the world in celebrating the Baha’i New Year known as Naw-Ruz, the last month of the Baha’i Calendar just before Naw-Ruz is the fasting period for Baha’is, and it was a perfect time for me to reflect on, and plan, what goals I want to set myself for the new year.
As we are encouraged by the Universal House of Justice to adopt a humble posture of learning — learning which takes place through prayer, planning, action and reflection — I thought I would create a list of questions to ask myself in order to help me reflect on and plan my own personal New Year resolutions.
I’ve decided to share this list of questions in case it may be of any use to you, (and I’ve left out my answers), but I’d love to hear about the questions you’ve been asking yourself, and/or what learnings you’ve had over the last year and how you hope to work on them if you think it would be appropriate to share (keeping in mind that it’s not about confessions of course). You can leave your comments in the ‘Comments’ section found at the bottom of this article.
Here’s the list: Continue reading
My attitude towards the Baha’i fast has recently changed. Had you asked me a few years ago what words came to mind when I thought of the fast I would have said “endurance, sacrifice and obedience.” In the past, the month of February was spent mentally psyching myself in preparation for the fast. I likened it to running a marathon, whereby I needed to be mentally ready, picturing myself at the finish line. Continue reading
This March will be the third consecutive year that I will not be physically fasting and I think I am finally getting some ideas for how I can still participate. (If you’re unfamiliar with the 19 day Baha’i Fast, Sara wrote a great introduction about it).
There are many reasons to be exempt from fasting whether it’s age, health, performing physical labour, menstruation, travel, pregnancy, or nursing a child (exemptions from the Fast can be found in the synopsis and codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas). At first I really struggled with being exempt. On one hand I was grateful: the fast is not meant to make us ill or malnourished and my baby’s development relied heavily on me eating well. On the other hand, I felt like I was no longer participating in a spiritual marathon. I was on the sidelines. I was so disconnected from the Fast that I offered my Baha’i friends food to eat in the middle of the day (so embarrassing!).
Having a grumbling tummy or parched mouth is an excellent reminder that you are fasting and without those physical cues I felt disconnected. But it’s not all about the food, so this year I’ve made a list of ways to fast when you can eat – some of which I’ve already tried, and some of which I’m looking forward to implementing: Continue reading
Those who know me, know that the period of the Baha’i Fast is my favourite time of year. I find that it is a time to exfoliate myself, to get rid of the husks of nonsense that seem to wrap themselves around me throughout the year. It gives me a chance to remind myself that I have willpower, and that I can strengthen it. Fasting gives us the chance to remind ourselves of our true nature, to reconnect with the world, and with ourselves. You train yourself to be content and come to realise how much you have, by ‘not having’.
This year is going to be a little different for me. Scratch that. Might be a little different from me. Scratch that. A lot different for me. Scratch that. I don’t know what it’s going to be like because I have never been in this position before. At the most basic, during the period of the fast, one does without food and water between sunrise and sunset. This year, during the fast I have to learn to do without my mother – she passed away in June last year. Continue reading