Lent is from Ash Wednesday to Easter – for many a welcome occasion to slow down after the lush Christmas season and the busy carnival season that immediately follows.
The originally religious motives for fasting are taking a back seat today – rather. Abstinence is becoming a luxury good in our fast-moving times. But what about giving up? We have researched the background for you.
We live in the age of consumption and can have almost anything immediately and immediately. But people still do without the car or the smartphone, on television. On alcohol, cigarettes, or sweets, on meat or completely on solid food during these few weeks of ‘fasting.’ The number of people who consciously do without it is even increasing. But what was the original purpose of Lent? Why do people still consciously renounce today?
Fasting – religious background
Lent is an integral part of almost all religions. The founders of the world’s major religions fasted and went through a phase of renunciation before experiencing revelations: Mohammed fasted before he became aware of the teachings of the Koran, Moses climbed Mount Sinai and fasted 40 days before he received God’s word, and Jesus retired to the desert for 40 days to fast.
Only Buddha taught the way of the center: he rejected self-mortification as well as gluttony. But the Buddhists are also aware: Eating little makes meditation easier and paves the way to inner peace and enlightenment. For this reason, Buddhists also refrain from eating after twelve noon for monks and nuns or individual fast days.
Even today there are times of fasting in all major world religions with the aim of focusing people more on faith in order to come closer to God. In Islam, fasting is one of the five pillars. Fasting takes place in Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year. Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, or smoke for 30 days between sunrise and sunset. The evening fasting then takes place in larger groups and thus has a strong family and community-promoting character.
In Judaism, Yom Kippur is the great day of atonement and fasting. On this day, you are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke, you don’t wash, you abstain from sex, and you don’t go to work. Also, there are five other general days of fasting in Judaism that commemorate Jewish history. Fasting on other days is an option, but not a fixed requirement: for example, on the eve of the monthly new moon, on your own wedding day, or the day of the parents’ death.
For Christians, Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Today, however, there are no longer any strict rules of fasting, rather every Christian should decide for himself how he wants to organize the fasting period. The Orthodox Church demands a stricter fast from its believers, with four fasts of several weeks in the church year; there is also fast every Wednesday and Friday. Meat, eggs, and dairy products are prohibited on all fasting days, and fish, wine, and oil are also prohibited on strict fasting days.
But for us Europeans, the religious background of fasting has moved more and more into the background. But we fast anyway, but why actually?
Fasting as a lifestyle trend?
Pay relatively high for little food and no program? How is that possible? Who even wants that? One pole of the leisure industry offers more and more things faster and around the clock, if possible. Whether it’s a club holiday in summer or institutionalized hut fun during the winter holidays, whether it’s a visit to the animated amusement park or the interactive museum: the main thing is, ‘it’s something Come on!’
But with all the entertainment around the clock, there is no time for real relaxation, for contemplation, for reflection. But the leisure experts have also recognized this niche and serve. Another pole of the industry – the longing for peace and slowness: fasting weeks are booming, and the more lonely the area, the less entertainment, the less distraction the better! People long for simplicity, they look to do without – and not just when it comes to eating.
So has fasting become a lifestyle trend? We think – yes! Trends can be recognized not least by the fact that there is demand and offers are springing up. Regardless of whether it is a therapeutic fasting week to get rid of “unnecessary ballast”.Fasting according to Buchinger and Lützner, base fasting, fasting for those in a hurry or for professionals, juice fasting, vegan fasting, Soup fasting – the offer is diverse and now there is actually something like its own fasting industry.
However, different types of fasting may seem. The goal is always the same. It is about spring cleaning from the inside. About cleansing body and mind through conscious renunciation. And to experience this renunciation and to ‘savor’ the luxury of emptiness. More and more people are willing to dig deeper or less into their pockets and pay a lot for in the truest sense of the word ‘nothing.’
Programs that combine intermittent fasting with a healthy diet and even whole nutrition plans are a good alternative. This creates a holistic approach that can also be used permanently in everyday life.
Tip for women between 40 and 65:
There is a special program for intermittent fasting during menopause!
Intermittent fasting is combined with nutrition plans so that the female body goes back to fat-burning mode despite the “menopause hormone change”.
Therapeutic fasting – the luxury of nothing
First of all, it is important to counter a widespread misconception: Fasting, i.e., pure food restriction without considering the mental component, is not healthy – and the term ‘therapeutic fasting’ should not be misused for such a one-sided restriction of living conditions.
Even the inventor of ‘therapeutic fasting,’ the German doctor Otto Buchinger, attached great importance to the fact that his patients, in addition to physical cleansing, also did mental regeneration during fasting. If leisure and inner contemplation are neglected during therapeutic fasting, the cure is usually of no use, says Buchinger. In fact, there is even a risk that diseases could worsen.
So anyone who “fasts” to reduce their weight has not understood the principle and is abusing the original idea. ‘Genuine therapeutic fasting,’ according to Buchinger, combines a low-calorie drinking cure with exercise training and relaxation units. In addition to measures to support fasting, the classic therapeutic fasting weeks also impart knowledge about the connections between diet and physical and mental health.
Therapeutic fasting is a simple and effective health promotion measure. It is used to prevent numerous diseases and can be an ideal introduction to lifestyle modification. It is about being mindful of one’s own needs, but also sensitivity to the needs of fellow human beings, and a reference to nature and the environment are promoted.
Fasting, silence, meditation
Therapeutic fasting is a process that captures people in their entirety and reduces or focuses their perception on the essentials. The senses are sharpened and the ability to enjoy is increased again. But when do you have time for this process?
The fast-paced everyday life takes its toll: Who does not know it, the feeling of being overwhelmed, of emptiness, of exhaustion … The day was exhausting. One was constantly on the move. There was an email, there was a call, another meeting, but at the end of it, During the day, you have the feeling that you haven’t actually achieved anything. You are drained, listless, and feel like a container with no content – just empty.
But instead of looking at this void and thinking about what it can mean. And what our body or soul wants to tell us with this sensation. Most people try to fill this void again as quickly as possible. Usually with distraction and passive consumption instead of with Contemplation and self-reflection. But the opportunity that lies in this void is the opportunity to charge you. And thus yourself – with positive thoughts and good energy.
It’s very simple: you can’t put anything into a full vessel, but you can into an empty one. But in everyday life, we endure this emptiness. Which would be necessary for inner regeneration, less and less, and therefore allow it less and less. Only the conscious decision to experience and use this emptiness helps us to slow down. One of the slowing down methods is fasting. But silence and meditation also help to leave everyday life. Behind and discover and experience a kind of ‘new dimension.’ The goal is to consciously empty yourself to be able to recharge yourself afterward – physically and mentally.
Anyone who fasts, remains silent, and meditates regularly – or even just one of them. They can change their routines, question automatisms, and analyze the supposed comfort zone without judgment. Does my everyday life really make me happy? What can I change, what is good for me, what is harmful to me? And what is just a stupid routine that you stick to out of habit and that you actually want to leave behind?
This possibility of consciously stepping out of everyday life is why many experts are very positive about the trend towards fasting. Every conscious change in lifestyle, including changing eating behavior, does something to us. With fasting, we can set a conscious counter-sign to hectic everyday life. We take a break! And this break offers moments of self-reflection and thus makes doing without a “luxury.” Anyone who has already experienced this luxury will also understand why fasting has become a trend!