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Fasting From The Internet
Fasting Is Not Just About Food
Besides being a writer, I also have a strong belief in God - and that is how I came to learn about fasting from the Internet. After telling my pastor about my recent fasts from the Internet, he asked me if I would mind sharing my testimony at church. So in response to that I thought I would also write a hub about my Internet fast, in the hopes that it might inspire someone else to try this.
I've never fasted from anything in my entire life, and to be honest, the only thing that I thought you could fast from was food. I found out differently however a couple months ago. One of our worship leaders named Linda asked members of our congregation to "fast" in prayer for our churches MySpace site. Linda explained that we have been getting alot of prayer requests. She felt it would help the ministry if we had members pray through fasting.
The thing that interested me was that Linda spoke of how fasting could be done in different ways, not only from food but from things like the Internet.This was intriguing for me because I'd never heard of a Internet fast, and wanting to help out in some way, I volunteered to fast from the Internet on a Tuesday.
Wiki's Definition of Fasting
So let's examine first the definition of Fasting from Wiki:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting. Fasting practices may preclude sexual activity as well as food, in addition to refraining from eating certain types or groups of foods; for example, one might refrain from eating meat.
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history. It is mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, the Qur'an, the Mahabharata, and the Upanishads. Fasting is also practiced in many other religious traditions and spiritual practices.
Fasting is also used in a medical context to refer to the state achieved after digestion of a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many medical diagnostic tests are standardized for fasting conditions. For most medical purposes a person is assumed to be fasting after 8-12 hours. A diagnostic fast refers to prolonged fasting (from 8-72 hours depending on age) conducted under medical observation for investigation of a problem, usually hypoglycemia. Fasting has occasionally been recommended as a therapeutic intervention by physicians of many cultures, though it is uncommonly resorted to for this purpose by modern doctors.
I Went Into Internet Withdrawal
So according to Wiki's definition - fasting means abstaining - or rather not doing something we would probably normally do. It is usually done for spiritual or religious purposes, but can also be done for medical reasons.
In my case, it was done for spiritual reasons and to hopefully get a better connection to God, without something cluttering up my mind.
I didn't think that fasting from the Internet would be that difficult for me. I really thought it would just be an exercise of constraint more than anything....
I found out differently however within just the first hour of my Internet fast. Maybe it was just the thought that I couldn't go on the Internet that spurred me into wanting to go on it even more- but all I know was that within the first few hours I was having Internet Withdrawal Symptoms.
Now for someone who doesn't spend much time on the computer that may seem stupid, to have Internet withdrawal symptoms, but for those of us that live, play and work on the Internet everyday, our Internet access is like eating food. Without it, we tend to dry up and start jonesing, which is exactly what I did.
The first few hours were torture. It was hard enough not putting my finger on that browser button let alone think about trying to pray at this time. All I could think of was to pray for myself to get through this fast that I had self imposed on myself!
Good Things Come Out of Fasting
So onto the fast- Like I say within the first few hours I was miserable....
I wasn't sure this was a very good idea anymore and I was making up all kinds of excuses to go on the computer (I didn't do it but I sure wanted to!) The excuses I was made up were things like I needed to check my email - I needed to check this job - I needed to contact this person - I needed to check my HubScore - so and so forth.... My excuses got wilder and wilder until I finally threw up my hands and realized how ridiculous I was being, and how I just needed to stop making justifications and accept what I had gotten myself into (and that this would be the last time I would do an Internet Fast!)
So as the first few hours crept by, I found myself trying to find other things to do around the house, and concentrate on trying to have a conversation with God instead (after all that was WHY I was doing this fast - right?)
That night I ended up going to bed a little earlier than I normally would, and got up a little earlier with my first thoughts of checking my hubscore, like I usually do. AHHHH!!!!!!! This was going to be much harder than I thought!!! (What's up with this HubScore addiction I have anyway???)
So I forced myself away from my office and went and laid back down, trying to refocus myself into something positive. I wandered outside and took a look at my garden and my mind finally started to calm down. I actually felt a sense of relief that my mind wasn't in full throttle, the way it usually was. A distinct sense of clarity settled over me.
Throughout the remainder of the day the clarity continued, and by that night, when my Internet fast was over, I decided not to go back on the Internet, even though my fasting time was up.
That was the first week ( I was fasting for one day at a time)
The following week I left my laptop at my business on the fasting day, and surprisingly - the fast went better this week. Without the distraction of my computer sitting here, and knowing that I absolutely had no computer access, I actually began to feel a lot calmer and mellower this day, and that night I went to bed early again. The interesting thing about this time though was that I didn't fall asleep right away. I actually laid in bed for hours, praying and thinking about my life.
Finally that night about 2 in the morning I had a revelation so stunning that it almost made me want to get up and start my day out at 2 in the morning- I finally KNEW what my purpose in life was!
WOW!!! I was shocked, stunned, amazed, all rolled into one. I had been steadily asking myself this question for over 5 years now, without any forthcoming answers. Now I finally knew what my purpose was! Something started to click within my brain - a small voice saying - take the time with me and I'll take my time with you...
And I knew then that I was feeling the effects of my Internet fast.
By abstaining from something that I enjoy, covet, and want in favor of doing something to please God, I was reaping the rewards of giving Him that time, (not that I was expecting that) but the clarity moments were happening because I was willing to make some sort of sacrifice on my part. In this case, my Internet addiction.
I had no idea what this Internet fasting would do for my life, my faith and my family. I had really entered into the fast rather flippantly but now I could see there was definitely a spiritual reason for doing this............
Every week after that I have continued to fast, and amazingly, each week on that day something becomes very clear to me ( I call it "my moment of clarity") Every week it's been something different but vital to my life..... One week it was something simple but outstanding- I was thinking about both my sons whom I had not talked too in awhile - and within minutes of thinking about them they both called my phone, back to back. I felt that electric connectivity within the universe in that moment, knowing that there was synchronicity going on that even I did not understand.
Not coincidence, but a planned connectivity.....
Perhaps the biggest change however has been my relationship with my spouse. We have been having rocky times for quite sometime now, and things were not getting any better- in fact they were getting worse. Nothing seemed to be helping our deteriorating lack of communication- until now. This week my husband asked me what is going on with me because he had noticed a big positive change within me. He said I'm being alot more understanding and so in response his attitude towards me has changed. I told him the truth- I'm spending more time outside of my own little world that I've created and am spending more time thinking about him, his needs and wants - and our relationship. I told him what I had been doing with the Internet fasting, and now he is asking me to please leave my computer at work some days! (he'll get his way sometimes but not always!!)
The other day the beloved landlord of our business building said that he was overjoyed to hear the strength in my voice, something that he had not heard for years from me. All, I contribute to, my self examination through fasting and prayer.
I am now on my second month of fasting from the Internet, and it's getting easier for me to do. In fact, I actually look forward to the day when I unplug from the greater world and connect to the greater God. It's time for just Him and I to have our heart to heart and for me to get instructed in the ways of life.
I find myself not only fasting from the Internet on those specific days but also doing it during the rest of the week - at odd and random times. Realizing that in those moments that I am not feeling compelled to search for more information on the Internet that I can instead spend time searching for more information from God.
A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY - Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done.
(from Andy Rooney)
(Dorsi Diaz is a freelance writer in the Silicon Valley)