Spiritual sensibility is elevated by fasting. As the body has nothing to digest, and the mind is tired, the spirit floats in a new dimension. If you reached the higher level state in meditation, then you may experience a similar sensation of lightness and nothingness.
For centuries, forcefully or voluntarily, for spiritual and religious reasons, people across diverse cultures have fasted. During the fast one not only gives up one of the life’s pleasures – food and alcohol – but cleans the mind from polluting emotions and cravings such as sexual desire. Your libido decreases when fasting, so do not take your lover on a fasting retreat.
For me the greatest lesson though was that my cravings do not equal my needs. They are rather a mind’s game seducing you more often than not on the wrong path. My relationship with food was illuminated, but I fasted only for three days, not enough to create a new habit or to change one’s mindset, so I slipped to my old ways once I travelled away. My lust for exotic foods again won over my reason, I am a sensual human after all.
It is recommended to undergo medically-supervised fasting for at least three weeks (I wrote about the potential health risks and detrimental re-toxificiation of the body after the fast if not done properly in this post). Lanserhof in Austria, Germany and Spain are ideally set luxurious medical fasting clinics where nature and local architecture support your resolve.
I am a creative sensitive person, so some of the spiritual sensibility was awakened in me sooner than with most people. As if the lack of food switched the lenses covering my eyes, I perceived my surroundings in a new profound depth. Every little detail resonated with my awareness in a greater sensation. There was silence in my heart. Perhaps it was that same tired feeling that helps with the flow of my writing right upon waking, or just the plain focus of slowing down.
I fasted at Lanserhof Am Tegernsee. Bavaria is traditionally a Catholic region. Painterly chapels adorn the lush pastures, rolling hills inspire gentle forest strolls, while monasteries and nunneries offer respite inviting into their calm, regimented seclusion. The situation itself shifts one’s awareness, even the mindset, yet there are other, eastern modalities that awaken your spiritual self at Lanserhof. Solemn or group meditation, resting in the privacy of our terrace lounge chair, alkalising baths, morning awakening in nature, sipping a warm brew by the fireplace in the spa or the lobby lounge, all raised the bar of my Spiritual sensibility.
Upon sunrise on misty morning the hills were coated in a dewy blanket so soft that I comfortably and trustingly yield to the moment. I felt so peaceful that I meditated without even intending. The sense of inner calm, away from the mundane and social distractions, untethered by rocking emotions opened my soul to a greater appreciation of pure existence. I entered into the realm of universal connection. Sometimes, I feel this when entering alone a chapel or some spiritually charged place like former sets of tribal rites, and even in some extraordinary natural space.
One evening, hesitant with a growling tummy, but curious as I often am I entered a gong bath.
I am not sure whether it was some very special energy in the room I shared with the other Lanserhof guests, but everyone seemed so peaceful after the hour-long sonoric experience. Perhaps it was just my mind going astray from the deprivation, but my fantasy got off the rails. While the gong vibrated through our bodies, my mind wandered into an adventurous and dangerous territory. Imagining fiery dragons following me as I struggled to escape some curtailed enemy, this time the gong did not comfort me, but roused unsettling emotions. Spiritual sensibility can be unpleasant. On the other hand, I also felt connected as if touching the hands of the others around me. I felt a very similar clairvoyant sensation when I meditated with monks in a temple in Luang Prabang.
Back to the earth in Germany. This being Bavaria, the region of many great classical composers, Lanserhof hosts nightly diverse musicians and once per week a grand concert. Titled “Classics for the senses” a more formal setting does not take away the beauty of the sound. Just close your eyes and savor. I was lucky to enjoy my favorite piano sonatine by Maurice Ravel and Love’s Dream by Franz Liszt in that night’s repertoire.
The week soothed, recharged, cleaned and clarified my mind and body. I dream of returning. Until then I know I can awaken my spiritual sensibility every day in nature, during meditation or reading. And so can you. Life feels so much more when you are spiritually engaged.
Staying at the clinic and having many activities included in the stay, many guests overschedule their days with no downtime, but I did not feel that rest or time on my own was useless. The opposite — we restore from inside out and that is not just about physiological, psychological, but also a more connected spiritual care. Me time nourishes me as much as healthy movement, rejuvenating spas and balanced food.