How to get the full benefits of your fast - interview with Hillary Hitt
We caught up with Hillary Hitt, co-founder and director of Dharma Healing International and a visiting retreat leader at The Yoga Barn, to learn about her spiritual approach to fasting, bio-spiritual nutrition and the importance of breaking your fast properly
A Spiritual Approach to Fasting
Hillary Hitt is a fasting expert. Using a lifetime of fasting experience, she has created a unique curriculum that focuses on the body-mind-spirit interface. Founded in a spiritual education, according to Buddha Dharma principles of looking at oneself clearly without conditions, her fasting philosophy goes beyond the physical body, opting for “a totally-holistic cleansing journey that moves towards the path of awakening.” Using Dharma as the basis to fasting she guides participants internally to look and accept themselves and “the particular Karmic life history they grew up with—habits, attitudes, life styles—that get in the way of their cleansing and motivation towards enlightenment; of being free and empowered to their own law and authority.”
"Being hungry has profound spiritual benefit that
feeds the seeds for spiritual awakening"
A spiritual fast goes beyond the external layer of the body to confront habits, attitudes and life style choices that get in the way of cleansing. It still includes the no food, liquid only mentality that many fasts adopt, but uses this as base to dig deeper. Throughout a Dharma Healing fast, Hillary runs discussions that provoke thought: teaching “how to sincerely honour, uphold, and feed that privilege within the dimension at which they experience the fast and its potential benefits”. Topics such as “self-healing, self-empowerment, ‘holistic weight loss’ and spiritual transformation” empower participants to change their mind-set for the better. Whilst talks on the biology of the body, emotions, the mind and spirit; Dharma principles; microbiome (second brain gut)- first brain connection, and the bio-spiritual dimensions of our food (Bio-Spiritual Nutrition) explain the “why” of fasting. It’s an incredibly in-depth and researched retreat. She says that absorbing this knowledge on an empty stomach “distances us from our material world, from our relationships with food, providing us with a fearless autonomy to experience a refreshed, renewed and “empty” perspective of ourselves.”
The Fasting-Cleansing Process
Fasting is a life changing practice, whether done once or as a frequent cleansing ritual. Hillary explains that “it is like God or the divine universe has given you a privilege of feeling better than you have ever felt.” So, what actually happens when you fast?
After several days of fasting the body goes into a detox process called autophagy - a self-recycling (or self-eating) process that the body uses to remove cells that are old, diseased or damaged. When these cells are found the body breaks them down into their basic elements to be reused to build new cells. The autophagy process causes the body to “flip a regenerative switch” that can often cause temporary cleansing reactions as the body naturally rids itself of toxins to restore to its state of purity. This is the most important aspect of cleansing, according to Hillary, as it is when the “rewards are truly felt”.
During a fast we also cleanse mentally, emotionally and spiritually; “the body and mind become clearer and open to a higher vibration, a higher nutrition and a divine light”, ridding the body of toxins, but also sitting with the mind to look deeper into one’s life. Cocooning her group with love, Hillary guides participants through workshops to address “the intricate, intimate relationships we have with ourselves, and our world.” Fasters learn how to slow down, how to stimulate their metabolism, how to implement a practice of intermittent fasting, how to eat a more ketogenic diet and nourish themselves according to their individual age, sex, health condition and schedule. It is a transforming experience.
As clarity approaches, participants clear space to receive a “higher vibration, a higher nutrition and a divine light” within themselves, explains Hillary. However, whilst “most people can feel these awesome benefits, many have a hard time maintaining them. The cleansing process can be very shallow, or it can go to multiple dimensions of a person’s consciousness and manifest in their life in many areas.”
What determines this – the way that each individual breaks their fast.
Breaking the Fast, the Right Way
The cleansing process doesn’t stop when the fast is broken. It takes a few days for the body-mind to get the message the fast is over. Therefore, breaking your fast diligently, mindfully and with patience is the key to success.
“It is only as the cleansing process comes to an end,
that the real transformations occurs.”
A huge lesson that Hillary learnt through her personal journey, and from her years of guiding others, has been that “in order to experience the total benefits of the fast and to support the total cleansing, each person must break their fast properly”. This is a key part of a deeper spiritual cleanse as it’s not just the body that harvests the benefits of fasting but the mind and spirit too. On a Dharma Healing fast Hillary runs a 4-hour workshop where she teaches how to receive the full physical, mental and spiritual benefits, what to do and what to avoid for the first ten days post-fast. According to her “the total benefits do not manifest for a good number of days after a fast, and this requires a diligent break-the-fast-protocol. If not, well, the benefits of cleansing can fall away in a poof!”
How to Eat Mindfully after a Fast
Leaving a supportive fasting environment has many challenges. But with “motivation, love and mindful presence”, you can harvest the benefits for a lifetime. The body and mind are more sensitive post fasting and the sudden onslaught of temptation can be overwhelming. Add that to the fact that you are no longer surrounded by a group of nurturing friends, and it can cause you to slip off the detox wagon. However, by being mindful in our decisions of what to eat and drink, we can shift to consuming healthier options.
Fasting cultivates this more conscious approach and creates a deeper sense of love for oneself. Hillary explains that this love, when we truly, and deeply love ourselves, “… happens immediately after our fast. We are not attracted to foods, drinks, situations or relationships that can hurt us and make us feel uncomfortable.” Connecting to ourselves and learning to truly love who we are is a lifelong gift. We can become more connected to our thriving, vibrant life ahead, and feel self-compassion for that cultivated insight we now identify with. But only you can make that happen.
Ready to transform your life with a deeply healing spiritual fast?
Join Hillary’s 7-Day Dharma Healing Fasting Retreat, March 10-17, 2019
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Hillary practices, teaches and provides support in Buddha Dharma, Bio-Spiritual Nutrition, Body Consciousness, “Yoga-lonic” (colonic irrigation), acupressure, Reiki, and fasting as a way of life, and we are delighted to be welcoming her as a visiting retreat leader at The Yoga Barn.