"You are able to change your focus. You are able to overlook the present, and look into a wider present, a wider future. You become much more intensely aware of what surrounds you, whether it is nature, or it's your life itself, it's the people around you. And it gives you the time to just to go within, and have a much deeper conversation with yourself."
-- Carole Garibaldi Rogers, author of 'Fasting: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice'
We consider the surprising power of simply abstaining from food for a limited period as a spiritual discipline. There is a mystery to this practice, which can break the normal rhythms of our lives and lead to a rich contemplative experience. It also sensitizes fasters to the plight of people who suffer from malnutrition, a population estimated at 800 million by the United Nations. Fasting is found in many traditions including Judaism (Yom Kippur) Islam (Ramadan) and Christianity (Lent) as well as Native American traditions and aspects of Buddhism. Participants report a calming and clearing of the mind and an opportunity to connect with a higher presence. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day all observed periods of fasting. Author Carole Garibaldi Rogers comments that fasting is "counter-cultural" in our society of relentless consumption. But it can yield health benefits, when properly practiced, and grant a respite for self-reflection.