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Fast Fourth: Mindfully Celebrating Independence

The concept of independence means different things for different people. Several years ago on the 4th of July, our youngest son asked, “What does independence mean?” We explained that, from our perspective, independence (or being independent) meant being self-sufficient, self-supportive, not being controlled by others, uninfluenced by outside sources, etc. He responded with: “Oh.. so everyone just hangs out by themselves on Independence Day?” He had a valid point. If being independent really means “not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence” (Oxford Languages), then what are we actually doing on the 4th? And what are some alternatives to celebrating true independence?

To start, let’s talk briefly about American Independence Day. The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This historic document declared the thirteen American colonies' independence from British rule. Basically, it announced our separation from Britain, articulated the philosophical basis for self-government and individual rights, listed grievances against the British Crown, and promised a new beginning for the American people based on principles of freedom and equality (despite the small fact that 43 of the 56 signers were slave owners)

Fast forward about 248 years, and it would be hard not to notice the fierce sense of patriotism that abounds every July 4th in the form of over-the-top firework displays, barbeques, parades and picnics; all to celebrate the fact that we are a free and autonomous people. Free to make our own decisions and live our own lives in whatever way we see fit.

Being independent, in the very least, means being in control of your own mind and body. And while freedom seems to mean ‘the freedom to be excessive’ to some, it does not necessarily have to be this way. Instead of getting together in large groups and over-indulging each July 4th, my family and I fast for 24 hours. It’s been several years of this tradition, and the results have been beyond amazing; both for our collective health and sense of independence. For beginners, there is NO better way (aside from meditation) to establish and strengthen the mind-body connection than fasting. It detoxifies your cells, revitalizes your major organs, and most of all, gives you immense feelings of independence. This independence comes in the sense of freedom not only from food, but the belief that food is essential in celebrating and socializing. In fact, the feelings of pride and appreciation you feel for the Fourth are actually intensified through your dedicated & attentive focus.

Fasting obviously has some amazing health benefits, but most can’t seem to get past the whole ‘not eating for an extended period’ part. I’ll admit, it can sound pretty daunting to think about starvation, hunger and deprivation in general. The first few times I attempted an extended fast, I definitely had second thoughts going in. It’s a big adjustment to go from eating multiple times each day to nothing at all. Your body and brain need a moment to adjust! In one of my previous blogs, I Want To Go Fast’, I discuss the full benefits of fasting, my personal experiences, and Prolon's 5-day fast mimicking kits.

Once you’ve seen and personally experienced the benefits of fasting, you’ll be able to grasp the sense of independence to be gained through this practice (in addition to disease prevention, weight loss, cellular regeneration and quite literally adding years to your life). These benefits can be enhanced even further through meditative practices, the specifics of which should be decided by the individual. From structured breathwork to guided visualizations, there are tons meditations to choose from on YouTube! Find something that works best for you, and spend at least 10 minutes each day meditating. This is a great way to clear your mind and move throughout your day intentionally, and is also an irreplaceable companion when doing a fast (meditating is a great way to distract/focus your mind, especially in the initial stages).

Regardless of how or why you celebrate independence this July, having a clear, mind-body connection can only enhance your experience. The clarity and focus to be gained through meditation and fasting, to me at least, outweigh the alternatives found in excessive consumption. Before you knock it, try it! The feelings of contentment, purpose and alignment are readily available to you, and are helpful to both your individual wellness and your attentive focus on this most momentous of American holidays.

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