I guess it depends on what so long means. When I fast, I fast for 12 days maximum, but honestly, at that point, I really don’t want to go back to food. And still, I take some water daily.
There may be one or two who have shown that miracle of surviving without water for supernatural periods of time, but it is not a common practice even among yogin. Many yogin will fast for months though, completely emaciating themselves in strict penance.
How can they do it? At the risk of repeating the cliche, as the saying goes, ‘man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word out of the mouth of God.’ It’s a rather huge statement and full of truth. The question is, what is a word in the mouth of God? Mathew had a big point to make there. The human body is an impeccable mirror of the mind, and the mind is an impeccable mirror of That which Created it once it has been washed of its personal dispositions.
The human physiology can go a long time without food. But it is generally accepted, even among yogin, that a bit of water makes the mechanism run more smoothly. Limiting food is common practice though, particularly when there is no greater sustenance than enlightened mind.
For readers who have not experienced a lengthy fast, let me share a little of my experience.
Day 1: I feels hunger. The mind struggles – to release the habit of the routines of eating. To release the hold on desire and need. To settle down and relinquish control. It’s like the first ten minutes of meditation, while the rhythm still eludes.
Day 2: 24 hours is a long time and waking into a new day brings freshness and readiness. Still there is a little body hunger while the organs get used to the emptiness, but the mind has settled into the new routine. It already knows it has been mastered so tends to quiet easily.
Sometimes in the first few days, if the cravings are too much, a little warm milk in the evening will do the trick.
Day 3: Hunger pangs are gone. The rhythm is established. Life goes on as usual. There is no more excretion. No gas. The body is light. Sleep is deep.
Day 4 -7: The body begins to gain strength and energy as it turns to burning its fat reserves. The mind is clear and gives way easily to guidance from the operator.
Day 8–11: Strength grows by the day. Sleep is required less. Clarity of mind turns to bliss.
Day 12: I know that I can continue this lifestyle indefinitely and there is little reason to return to food. My body is 150 lbs as of this writing; there is plenty left to burn should I like to let my body be. But I am a family man and eating breakfast or dinner with my wife and daughter on a Sunday morning is another kind of bliss that I choose over the many benefits of the fast.
Day 13: Order a pizza.
There is real magic in the world. There are yogin who exist only to discover that magic over and over again. To teach it and model it. It is true. But the water trick? That one is reserved for an exceedingly few focused individuals. Not something anybody should think about trying on their own.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.