The most important spiritual reason for fasting is to conserve the energy from digestive metabolism, and channel all that energy and attention to deeper meditation.
But there are many reasons that slowly but radically change the mind, body and consciousness.
We use our mouth to eat, drink, talk, breathe; pray and chant.
Managing the mouth is one of the most important spiritual practice. It is usually the most difficult, because many people hardly pay attention to any of these fundamental actions. Usually, no one is taught to observe, how they use their own mouth. But it is a matter of habit, with a little effort daily, one can make big changes in a few months. One just has to begin!
Mantra of Ancient Yogis ~ Eat, Drink and Talk less. Pray and Chant more. And no mouth breathing.
A large population breathes through the mouth. They breathe in more air than the body needs, and it negatively effects the metabolism, digestion and energy. If you are a mouth breather, please look up this video on Buteyko breathing.
A few key reasons why people find it hard to fast. First, is the lack of experience of keeping a fast. Body and mind just need to unlearn an old habit of eating three meals a day. That can be unlearned with a few repeated fasts.
Second, a deeper mind issue, is that people are unconsciously running away from themselves, from bringing attention to what needs to be changed inside. Change always feels hard. And fasting as a spiritual practice, is a profound change of body, mind and consciousness to experience the Super Conscious Spirit.
When you fast, as you bring your attention to eat less, you can learn about what you eat on other days. If you have any compulsive eating patterns, eating junk food or overeating?
Food is the most basic human need and craving. As you deeply observe your own hunger and craving for food, you will begin to deeply observe your unconscious hunger and cravings for people, places and things. Just bringing your own emotional patterns to your attention will help slowly dissolve them.
You will slowly learn to pay attention to everything in your life. Your awareness will begin to expand.
In spiritual language, fasting purifies the mind and heart. Why?
Simply, purification is breaking away from the old patterns of emotional triggers and reactions; having equanimity towards all; being kind and loving to all and most important to yourself.
Dissolving your own patterns which give you pain and anxiety is being loving and kind to yourself. Simple tools of fasting, meditation and praying, just help you to be more loving to yourself.
The highest self-love is to work for one’s self-liberation.
Liberation can only happen when our energies are all turned inwards.
In other words, Fasting, will help you master your senses and sharpen the awareness. It will give you that precious pause before you automatically reach out for the next thing to buy or experience or react with anger, worry or anxiety towards other people or events.
On the deeper spiritual level, as one keeps fasting, the craving for objects of the world, people, places, things or experiences, starts reducing. You will have less thoughts of food and everything else.
A paradox unfolds. There are less cravings and thoughts, but the joy in each experience increases. The attention and awareness becomes sharp, eating even a little simple meal starts giving more satisfaction and pleasure. You will be able to enjoy each and every bite, taste and texture, aroma and color much more than you did before.
As our desires and thoughts become less, we start getting help mysteriously by the whole universe in our spiritual journey.
The following mantra of Lord Shiva, the Supreme Consciousness, describes our journey from this material world to liberation. Reciting it 11 or 108 times helps us invoke the energies of Lord Shiva, to drop all the desires for this material world effortlessly.
Om haum Om joom Om saha Om bhooha Om bhuva Om swaha
Om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe
urvārukamiva bandhanān mrityormukshīya mā’mritāt
Om swaha Om bhuva Om bhooha Om saha Om joom Om haum Om
Om, we worship the three-eyed-one~ Lord Shiva,
Who is fragrant and nourishes and grows all beings.
Like a ripe Cucumber falls off the branch on its own,
May our bonds to this world fall off on their own.
May Lord Shiva liberate us from death for immortality.
If interested in exploring more about the significance of fasting , you can read this book