The importance of fasting during Navratri
Navratri is that time of the year that is rich with colors, tradition, songs and dance. It is also a very sacred time, especially for a spiritual seeker. It is a time when we withdraw from the world of senses and rest through spiritual techniques to uncover the potential for greater bliss, joy and enthusiasm in our lives.
This movement from the outer to the inner can happen effortlessly only when the quality of sattva rises in us and fasting is one of the ways to increase the sattva level in us.
What is sattva?
This world is made up of five elements and these five elements have three qualities, that is:
Sattva (the quality that brings forth positivity)
Rajas (the quality that brings forth activity)
Tamas (the quality that brings forth inertia)
All spiritual practices such as meditation, chanting, fasting, silence, etc., increase the level of sattva in us. When sattva increases, it bring forth knowledge, alertness, awareness and joy in life, as these qualities come along with sattva. That is why taking out time to follow all these practices, such as fasting, chanting, meditation, etc., is very meaningful. It enhances the quality of life and brings forth more joy and happiness. Fasting greatly increases the sattva level of the body as it detoxifies and cleanses the system, which many a times gets stressed by overindulgence in food. Besides fasting, eating proper food on a regular basis also increases the sattva in the body.
Eating proper food means eating only as much as is essential, that can be well digested. You don't feel too heavy when you go to bed, or when you wake up in the morning, or when you sit for meditation. The right amount of fresh food which is gently spiced is sattvic food.
Benefits of fasting
Ayurveda, or the traditional Indian system of medicine, considers fasting as an effective way to rekindle the digestive fire or hunger. Usually, most of us don’t wait to feel hungry. Hunger is the way our body indicates that it is prepared to digest food. Eating even before feeling hungry weakens the digestive system, which in turn leads to stress and a poor immunity level. Fasting increases our digestive fire and this fire burns the lethargy and dullness in the body that comes through excessive eating. That is why after fasting you feel so fresh and light because every cell of our body comes alive. Fasting is a great therapy to cleanse our body.
The benefits of fasting are not only seen on the physical level but have a positive effect on the mind and emotions as well. The body is intimately connected with the mind and the mind with the emotions. When the body is purified through fasting, the mind is also purified. The mind becomes calm, clear and peaceful.