Meaning of Fasting (Upavaasa)
Fasting is not just a physical discipline, it can be a spiritual feast. Fast is also called as Upavaasa in Sanskrit.
Upa means “near”
Vaasa means “to stay”
Upavaasa thus symbolizes to stay near the Lord. Through fasting, we can attain the close mental relationship with the Lord. The main goal of fasts is inner unity. Our souls need fasting as much as our bodies need food. It is not about a diet of food, instead it is a mental diet to burn ego, pride and sins.
How Fasting Is Connected To Food?
A human being does work all day and night just to earn living, so that he can survive by having good food. People spend their full time and energy to procure food. They go and buy food from outside, some grow food in-house. Then they cook food, eat food and digest food. The whole day just revolves around food and for food. Therefore, on some days humans decide to stay away from food and stay near the Lord. They can save their time and energy by eating either simple food or having meals less frequently. Some people do not eat at all depending on their health and energy levels.
How Fasting Feeds Our Soul?
Fasting of the body is food for the soul. It makes our mind and soul more pure and alert. The mind which was earlier occupied with the thought of food is now connected with positive vibes and noble thoughts which can stay near the Lord. It is rightly said by William Secker –
“By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.”
We need to have command over our body, in which our soul helps us by controlling all the senses through fasting. It not only helps us to be away from food and drinks only, it also helps us to be away from evil thoughts, lying and falsehood. Everybody has negative thoughts but fasts doesn’t let those thoughts to overtake. So, what is in your mind controls your life. The more we indulge our senses, the more demands they make. Fasting is the key to guide our minds to be stable and to be at peace. It surely helps us to redirect our desires and to have complete control over our senses.
It can also be viewed as:
F – Forgiveness
A – Acceptance
S – Self-Control
T – Truth
I – Integrity
N – Nourishment
G – Grace
Is Fasting Healthy?
Fasting is a healthy habit. Many people wonder if fasting is indeed healthy for our bodies. Yes, it is an extremely healthy habit. Be it any system or machine on this Earth, it needs a break and a service to work at its best efficiency again. Fasting overhauls and prepares our body for the same. It gives our digestive system rest to work more efficiently.
It is the self – imposed form of discipline, which should not make us weak. Neither it should create an urge to indulge later on, nor it should make us irritable. It should be followed with happiness and peace of mind.
The Holy Bhagavad Gita teaches us to eat appropriately – yukta aahaara, which refers to neither too less nor too much. It says that we should eat a saatvik diet even when we are not fasting, that is, to eat pure, healthy and simple food.
Healthy habits keep us healthy and happy. If we develop healthy habits at an early age, they become good choices for life.