Mardi Gras is a Catholic festival season that culminates on Fat Tuesday and takes the faithful into Ash Wednesday and the penitential season of Lent, The commonly known practice is Lenten fasting or choosing something to give up for Lent and it’s not just for the Catholic. Everyone, Catholic or not, should quit feasting on Fat Tuesday and pick an addiction to give up for Lent. Don’t worry, that’s no religious agenda, just common sense. Lenten fasting is healthy for everyone! Give up junk food for Lent and you might lose weight, illness, debt, and depression! You don’t have to fast for religious reasons but a spiritual fast can be very healing.
And spiritual fasting isn’t necessarily religious, it’s a mind-body connection, an examination of conscience, a personal reflection that frees the mind and soul of earthly trappings. Fasting is a very Zen experience. Lent, Ramadan and Yom Kippur are ritual purgative fasts. Fasts such as the Buddhist nyungne bring the elements of the self into focus and unity. Abstaining from mindless indulgences and addictions, at least for a time, helps to align thoughts, actions, words and feelings. Lenten fasting helps get priorities straight. Whatever addictions you give up for Lent will have less hold over you. You find it easier to diet and lose weight as cravings aren’t so intense and you are more easily satisfied.
The Tao of Lenten fasting is inner cleansing through outward deprivation. On Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday a Catholic is “shriven” or purified and readied for prayer, meditation and almsgiving and taking up the cross and following Jesus. Think of something negative that has a hold on you to give up for Lent. Lenten fasting helps you concentrate on essentials. Beat depression and gain confidence and strength knowing you’re stronger than your cravings. If you offer your Lenten fasting for particular intentions, you develop awareness of, sensitivity to and solidarity with the needs of others. So you lose weight but also selfishness. Being less focused on things can help you get out of debt. You have more money to help those in poverty. This is the best medicine for depression!
Fasting is positive for health reasons. Abstaining from meat, alcohol, fats, sugar, sodium, junk carbs, candy and dairy can help you lose weight and illness. In times past, people refrained from eating all of these things during Lent. Now, a Catholic will generally choose one thing to fast from. If you have trouble deciding? Pick meat or sweets to give up for Lent. You can lower bad cholesterol without medication just by eating more fish and less meat and dairy. Drinking less alcohol helps cleanse the liver which helps you lose weight. Try fasting on bread and water twice a week, You may shed 20 pounds during a Lenten fast, making no other lifestyle changes. Refraining from eating sweets and caffeine, and practicing emotional health exercises can help you wean from an antidepressant and beat depression naturally. A Lenten fast can heal obesity, depression, save you money and find your inner joy!