How does fasting affect meditation?

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Aeon , modified 12 Months ago at 3/2/23 9:11 PM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/2/23 9:11 PM

How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/31/23 Recent Posts
I have heard fasting has been used throughout the ages to facilitate religious experience, but I know very little of it.

What's your opinion/experience with fasting and meditation?
Rousseau Matt, modified 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 8:16 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 8:16 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 136 Join Date: 5/1/22 Recent Posts
I'm curious also. Early Christian  monks fasted ridiculously.  And they lived remarkably  old. But does it help reach jhana? Ora stage of poi
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Ben V, modified 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 10:08 PM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 10:08 PM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 417 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Until around 3-4 years ago, I would do yearly solitary retreats where i observed 8 monastic precepts, including not eating solid food after noon, hence fasting until the following morning. 

3-4 years ago as I was doing this in a retreat I developed pretty unpleasant symptoms. Long story short I developed some form of reactive hypoglycemia and am no longer able to skip a meal without those symptoms recurring. Obviously my personal bias is to see not much point in fasting. It did make me observe the craving for food and let go of it while on retreat, so it can help work on that. I'm just wondering if it's actually healthy.  But I'm open and curious to hear others' experience. Monks do follow the fasting rule above and seem to be doing ok with it. Maybe it's just a few like me that cannot do it.
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Dream Walker, modified 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 11:49 PM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/3/23 11:49 PM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 1643 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Easy answer, try it and report back.
Many questions are available this way. Why not learn from doing instead of speculation?
Good luck,
​​​​​​​~D
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Aeon , modified 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:09 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:09 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/31/23 Recent Posts
@dreamwalker Forewarned is forearmed.

As much as I love direct empiri, fasting poses both risk and difficulty, especially if doing prolonged fasts. Most I have managed is 60 hours.
I also struggle to discern if it's done for moral reasons, or to enhance mental state.
Add in variance between individuals, and I would consider due diligence wise.
All that said, I likely will end up trying a 10-day fast with electrolyte water during retreat.
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Aeon , modified 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:11 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:11 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/31/23 Recent Posts
@runner1 I think consensus is cyclic fasting is good for extending lifespan. Whether it increases or decreases vitality and healthspan, I'm not sure about.
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Aeon , modified 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:16 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:16 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 212 Join Date: 1/31/23 Recent Posts
@benvipassana Man that sounds rough.
That's the weird thing about fasting, it seems some get miracle effects from it, others get run into the ground by it.
Thanks for sharing that
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Dream Walker, modified 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:38 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 12:38 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

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60 hours fasting, good, doing meditation? 
retreat following the retreat rules. Including your own. 60 hours should go to one incremental step up.
Good luck mixing them and watch out for a&p bs screwing up your rules.
​​​​​​​~D
Aviva HaMakom, modified 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 7:32 AM
Created 12 Months ago at 3/4/23 7:32 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 101 Join Date: 12/17/22 Recent Posts
Fasting raises dopamine and various forms of cortisol and adrenaline- whether or not that will be good for your practice is something only you can determine from trial and error.

I am unable to fast because it makes me too "high," encouraging me to go in the direction of hypomania. 

We know from various studies that meditation raises dopamine around 65% higher than baseline- add that to fasting and you might get into the territory of hallucinations, which is of course why a lot of shamanic traditions combine fasting with the other practices to induce that sort of experience.

I would be wary of it if you have a tendency towards mania but I wonder if it would be more helpful for a depressed/sluggish/kapha type person. 
Michal, modified 11 Months ago at 3/5/23 4:47 AM
Created 11 Months ago at 3/5/23 4:47 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 33 Join Date: 6/9/20 Recent Posts
It is very helpful. I use it to get results from doing about 2 - 3 hours kasina a day that I would normally get from about 6 hours.&nbsp;<br /><br />If I did a 10 day fast, all day awareness + 3 hours of meditation a day I would definitely get similiar results as a 10 day retreat would give me.<br /><br />Be careful if you have already very little body mass. I have read stories about people who were already very skinny and it often did damage.<br /><br />If your BMI (and/or bodyfat) is reasonable you should be OK.
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Jim Smith, modified 10 Months ago at 5/2/23 7:39 PM
Created 10 Months ago at 5/2/23 7:09 PM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 1624 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Aeon ........
I have heard fasting has been used throughout the ages to facilitate religious experience, but I know very little of it.

What's your opinion/experience with fasting and meditation?


I find that eating too much carbohydrates has a negative effect on my mind in a way that works in opposition to meditation and mindfulness. My practice is much more effective if I have a low carb diet. It's not a keto diet but still lower in carbs than a typical diet. So for some people, if they normally eat a lot of carbs, they might find their mind is clearer and their meditation practice is more effective during a fast.

When I'm on a low carb diet, in comparison to a normal diet, it seems like I naturally and easily slip into a meditative/mindful state during daily activities, and the effects, the state of mind, produced by sitting meditation are easier to maintain and last longer after the meditation session is over. I'm not as much caught up in and carried away by thinking and emotions (ie worrying about the future, rehashing the past, over reacting to present situations).

If anyone wants to try cutting back on carbs it might be helpful to know that I find the best way to cut back on calories is to eat a big meal that will keep me full for several hours and then when I get do hungry, it's not cravings that are hard to control, but more of just an awareness that I could eat but I can easily refrain from eating. I think cravings can be caused by unstable blood sugar levels so if you can wait until they stabilize you might not get cravings. Then it's much easier to start a different diet as long as the new diet doesn't destabilize blood sugar levels ie doesn't have high levels of carbs. However, I think there can also sometimes be withdrawl effects from carbs that can have a negative influence on one's mood and that can be a problem people should be aware of. This can be ameliorated by consuming more carbs if/when needed so it can require a delicate balance to maintain the low carb diet.

I tend to plan diets starting with the amount of protein I want to consume and then adjust carbs and fat to meet whatever other objectives I have for the diet (ie total calories or ratios of macronutrients). I would want to be sure I was getting enough protein to support my level of physical activity even if I was trying to reduce total calories to lose weight.

I don't know if other people will experience what I do but I think it's probable there are some who will.
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Jure K, modified 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 8:46 AM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 8:46 AM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 460 Join Date: 9/8/20 Recent Posts
When you fast, everything is very much intensified. I stopped because it was wrecking havoc on my daily life. 
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terry, modified 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 10:43 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 10:43 PM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 2419 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Ben V.
Until around 3-4 years ago, I would do yearly solitary retreats where i observed 8 monastic precepts, including not eating solid food after noon, hence fasting until the following morning. 

3-4 years ago as I was doing this in a retreat I developed pretty unpleasant symptoms. Long story short I developed some form of reactive hypoglycemia and am no longer able to skip a meal without those symptoms recurring. Obviously my personal bias is to see not much point in fasting. It did make me observe the craving for food and let go of it while on retreat, so it can help work on that. I'm just wondering if it's actually healthy.  But I'm open and curious to hear others' experience. Monks do follow the fasting rule above and seem to be doing ok with it. Maybe it's just a few like me that cannot do it.




   Fasting is traditionally thought to be good for you. Galen famously opined that the food that was best for you was the food that was left on the table.

   Recent research on fasting focusses on autophagy, where when nutrients are low the body feeds on its own tissues. It is thought that the body preferentially consumes the defective and damaged cell material, thus improving the health of the organism.

   I suspect that hypogycemia is a result of the ubiquitous sugar poisoning that addicted humans are subject to. Avoiding all processed foods and added sugars would probably clear up that aspect of prediabetes and others.

   You could check out dr robert lustig. He divides food into four categories in order of degradation, for example apples. First you have a freshly picked apple. Second you peel and slice the apple and put it on a plate. Third you make apple sauce, taking the apple slices, cooking them, maybe adding sugar and a preservative and storing it in a jar. Fourth you have a mcdonald's apple pie. He says only the fourth category is really bad for you but somehow this is three fourths of what people eat.

   Eating chips is bad for you in so many ways, from forever chemicals to palm oil, and the profit margins on this virtually worthless, harmful and degrading product are rapacious, like those of packaged cereal, or american fake beer: the containers cost literally more to produce than the fake food and drink. Only heavy advertising - deep deep mind control - could convince people that these products are tasty and nutritious. 

   This is the sort of conditioning we need to throw off. Cure our addictions and bring the corporations to heel or to oblivion at one blow.

   So quit eating processed foods and then you might find fasting easy and natural. Once the addictions loosen their grip.

   Virtually all advertising strengthens our addictions, by design. Avoid all corporate messaging. Treat products such as coca cola as the poisons they are. Feed yourself and others real food. Grow what you can and support local organic farmers.
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terry, modified 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 10:54 PM
Created 5 Months ago at 9/28/23 10:54 PM

RE: How does fasting affect meditation?

Posts: 2419 Join Date: 8/7/17 Recent Posts
Aeon .
@dreamwalker Forewarned is forearmed.

As much as I love direct empiri, fasting poses both risk and difficulty, especially if doing prolonged fasts. Most I have managed is 60 hours.
I also struggle to discern if it's done for moral reasons, or to enhance mental state.
Add in variance between individuals, and I would consider due diligence wise.
All that said, I likely will end up trying a 10-day fast with electrolyte water during retreat.



   I have never done a ten day fast but I would think that was for people who have become comfortable with fasting. If I were tempted to do ten days I would first do a number of three day fasts, you know, work my way up to it. Get comfortable with it. The mind challenging the body can be detrimental; as foucault says, "the soul is the cage of the body."

   First rule when dealing with the body, "do no harm." 

​​​​​​​The buddha called it the middle way.

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