Fasting: Day 19 – Contentment

By: Ron Lagerquist

Physical Side

One Large honeydew melon juiced; two glasses of veggie juice with added kale. Just came back from a fast 12 mile trail ride on the mountain bike, totaling an hour and a half. The friend I went with was astonished at my energy, gasping between breaths, “you mean to tell me you have not eaten for 19 days? How is this possible?”

After the bike ride I took a 20 minute nap and felt relaxed and energized. I could not have done this in the first ten days of this fast, but after getting a good deal of detoxification behind me, there are now times throughout the day where I actually forget I’m fasting because of the vitality I’m feeling. 

Spiritual Side

I watch for it, expect it, and sure enough it comes about a week into the fast. Gratitude. And it starts with something I take for granted—food. 

When fasting it seems like the only thing people do is eat, talk about needing to eat, or talk about something they just ate. They eat in malls, cars, parks, while walking down the street. You can buy food everywhere: Gas stations, street-meat stands, restaurants, human grub sold on every corner. 

After not eating for days, I watch people (sometimes with a certain envy) bite into their large, juicy burgers looking completely unhappy, oblivious to how blessed they are. After weeks of not eating, I begin to understand what it must feel like for those who emigrate here from poor countries; during the first year they must be overwhelmed by the availability and variety of food, shocked by how much we throw away. But surely as time passes they too start to take food for granted just as I do only a dozen meals after the fast has ended. 

As gratitude deepens, I think about the extravagance of being able to juice hundreds of pounds of produce, including fruits and vegetables that have been shipped to me from all over the world. This whole new awareness leads me to notice other things I’m normally blind to. Fridges, stoves, light switches, comfy chairs, cans and can openers, perfectly sliced bread, nail clippers, soft beds, reading glasses, my gym, and it goes on and on. It’s said that today’s middle class enjoys a higher standard of living then the kings of old. 

Gratitude always leads me to contentment and contentment opens the door to stillness and peace. Contentment changes value systems. The things that were important before this fast no longer matter. 

Here’s an example. Before the fast I was obsessively checking out the new ultra-portable laptops coming on the market. They’re smaller, faster and have a longer battery life, and I want one in a bad way. It’s a tossup between the newest Mac Book Pro or Toshiba Portege, but that could change tomorrow. Comparably, my 100 pound, black Lenovo T400 is looking like an old army tank. Not something you want to wear into Starbucks, and at Starbucks, you wear your laptop. I picture myself cracking open my new Mac Book, pretty blond heads turn slightly in my direction. Ridiculous, but true. The same thing happens with my 2008 Hyundai Accent. What I once love I now despise because lust turns into entitlement, after all, I work hard, I deserve a new car with sun roof and power windows. 

The funny part of this is I know that a new car or laptop will not increase my baseline happiness one inch, unlike contentment which results in sustained joy. But nonetheless I fall prey to the glowing Apple. 
Here I am, back in love with my Lenovo. She’s been a great machine. I am thankful for my car, and that usually results in a wash, vacuum and wax job. Would you just look at my Accent! 

Here is something you should never forget. Contentment smashes addiction and compulsive behavior. There can be no permanent weight loss without contentment.

Baseline happiness increases when I care more about less things and less about more things. Doing a few things well, instead of trying to do many things poorly or half-finished. This is vital when it comes to writing well. It’s bad enough to put out a rushed, inadequately thought-out piece of writing. But worse still is to be so busy and distracted that there is no time for that all important mental fermentation. One hour of good writing comes out of hours of thought and meditation. Discontentment and meditation make for bad bed-fellows.

Next Article: Fasting: Day 20 – Man-Up

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