Most of us experience hunger as anything but joyful. When pangs of hunger strike, most of us experience them as the enemy. Often hunger makes us confused, tired, and irritable. Worst of all; hunger pains can lead us to overeat, or to eat sweets and other junk food. Under the dire influence of hunger, we fear we will lose control of our dietary discipline, and stuff ourselves with food. So we learn to fear hunger itself.
But there is another side of hunger. People who are experienced fasters and many athletes know that there is a powerful and beneficial side to hunger. Hunger can be made into our friend, and an excellent friend indeed, who can not only help us to lose weight but can also help us strengthen and heal our bodies. I will show in this article how we can use the powers of hypnosis to help create this new relationship to hunger.
Hundreds of medical studies have proven that when the body is fasting, (Skipping one or more meals) it naturally performs many healing functions. Here are some of the physical benefits of fasting.
Resting the digestive system, and allowing it to rebalance its digestive enzymes, probiotics (healthy bacteria, which are essential for digestion), rest and rebuild its muscular walls and membranes, and dispose of waste.
Cleansing the organs of the body and the entire circulatory system of both the normal toxins that are the byproducts of healthy metabolism, and the dangerous environmental toxins that surround us.
Rebuilding muscle, connective tissue, and organs—most experts agree this can only be done when we are fasting or sleeping.
Activating the immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections, tumors, and other parasites.
Reestablishing a healthy blood sugar balance. This is why fasting has for centuries been recommended for diabetes sufferers.
For those who need to lose weight, skipping meals when done as a part of a carefully managed program can be very effective.
Yes, these are benefits of fasting, which can start adding up even by skipping just one meal per week. These benefits are proven to lead to greater health and longevity. As just one example, medical researchers have determined that when lab rats are given only 50% of the food they usually eat, they live much healthier lives, and live 40% longer than similar lab rats on a regular diet. For more information about the benefits of fasting, I recommend the writings of Paavo Airola, one of the great luminaries in the field of holistic nutrition and cleansing diets, and the works of Ed Bauman, teacher of nutrition in Sonoma County California. Or find a naturopathic physician or nutritionist in your area to assist you in creating a program that is right for you.
But there are also the joys of fasting. Once we can overcome the panic reactions many of us associate with hunger, fasting can actually be a joyful experience. Like many other experienced fasters, I find that in the state of mild hunger I feel good. Here is some of what it feels like.
Once the body’s blood sugar reaches a balanced state, one has considerably more energy when the digestive system is resting. I find it easier to hike, rock climb, and run for many miles when I am fasting, or at least eating very little.
In a state of mild food deprivation ones senses and emotions become extremely acute. While this sensitivity may be uncomfortable in some environments, I find my increased senses of sight, hearing, and smell to be usually quite delightful. While in this heightened state, the whine of a motorcycle engine grates severely on my nerves. But this is more than compensated for by the extraordinary beauty of a symphony on my CD player or the sun shimmering on the water of the lake across the street. My sense of smell becomes especially acute, so that every walk outdoors brings a symphony of delicious fragrances. (Thank God my multiple pollen and chemical and mold allergies have been healed with hypnosis!) I suspect that this sensory acuity, especially to aromas, is an ancient adaptation. After all when our body is hungry all our senses turn on to help our bodies locate food.
Once my body reaches a balance I find it easy to call upon and communicate with my inner guides. There is something about fasting which opens the higher spiritual channels. This special quality of fasting has been in the literature of the mystics and saints for at least 2000 years, and is as true now as it was then.
Ironically, a primary benefit from occasional fasting is the reduction of hunger symptoms. I used to be always obsessed with food, and suffered frequent and disturbing cravings. I could hardly go two hours without a snack, which I justified by my self diagnosis of hypoglycemia. Once I became comfortable with being a little bit hungry, and taking a 20 minute nap instead of a sugary treat when I was tired, I felt the shackles of a food addiction were removed from me. Now most of my day I don’t even think about food. And boy, are there lots of more fun things than food to think about!
So how can hypnosis help us to move from hunger as the enemy to hunger as a faithful friend? Let me count the ways.
First, we can use hypnosis to speak directly to the stomach, letting it know that a little hunger is a good thing, and instructing it to relax on command.
We can also use regression to access memories in which hunger was associated with pain, fear, abuse or neglect. We can then rescue the inner child from these traumatic experiences. Then we teach the inner child that their adult self is with them during their brief experiences of fasting to give them extra love and reassurance. This can help eliminate the intense emotional reaction to hunger.
When you feel hunger as painful, you may find it helpful to drink liquids, especially warm tea or fruit juice diluted to half strength with water. Certain vitamin and mineral supplements, or even liquid meals, can also help put your hungry feelings to bed while speeding up your body’s recovery abilities. This gives the stomach a relaxed feeling of fullness and lifts blood sugar very gently, all without disturbing the healing process and sensory/spiritual powers of fasting. Hypnosis can be used to reinforce this healthy habit.
So if you are ready to enjoy the benefits of hunger, ask your nutritionist for ideas on how to make meal skipping work for you. If you have a serious illness, fasting could even be a big part of the solution, provided you work closely with a naturopathic physician and your regular doctor. And a hypnotherapist can help the whole process of healing your illness, as well as make fasting an easier and more comfortable process for you. Enjoy skipping meals and giving your body the gift of health…and your consciousness the gift of joy.
David Quigley is the founder of Alchemical Hypnotherapy and author of the popular textbook "Alchemical Hypnotherapy". He is a graduate of Duke University in comparative religion and transpersonal psychology, and of the Hypnotherapy Training Institute in Corte Madeira, California. David has extensive training in Gestalt, primal therapy, group process and Jungian psychology, as well as courses in Ericksonian and clinical hypnosis and NLP. David teaches throughout the United States and Europe, including speaking at the United Nations Enlightenment Society and numerous hypnotherapy conferences. As the Director of the Alchemy Institute of Hypnosis in Santa Rosa, CA David has trained and certified well over 2,000 professional hypnotherapists since 1983. In addition to teaching workshops, intensives, retreats and weekend training, David maintains a busy private practice in Santa Rosa.