People fast for a variety of reasons. Some fast for their health, others for their spiritual well being. Many people fast on a particular day of the week, to appease a particular deity or even a planet. They fast in different ways; some eat only fruit, or drink only juice, a few give up food and drink altogether during their fast.
One day, I decided to keep a positivity fast, giving up as many negative things as possible. Trust me, it really worked, although I had to make some real tough choices to get rid of deep-rooted habits.
Before this, I used to start my day spending half an hour or more on Google news, catching up with world events of presumably earth-shaking importance. Without exception, they were negative events; the good stuff just didn’t make it into the media.
During the positivity fast, I had to change my routine and giving up reading the news. Instead, I read only jokes on Google for half an hour. This worked like a charm, helping me clean my body and my mind at the same time. I felt so much lighter in every sense of the word. Also, I learned a lot of very useful things.
Do you know what has four legs and can fly like a bird?
Answer: a pair of birds.
Do you know why Adele crossed the road?
Answer: so that she could say hello from the other side.
Just for context, “Hello from the other side’ is a hit song by Adele, the well-known British singer.
Google is full of amazing things. Used properly, it can lighten our mood instantaneously. It also has a vast collection of Mullah Nasruddin jokes. However, I didn’t need to go through that section, as our own beloved Om Swami ji tells those jokes so much better.
As the day went by, I continued with positivity. One secret, I soon discovered, was not to offer my opinions on various subjects. If we don’t offer opinions, we will receive none. This is all good, because, most opinions, unfortunately, are negative. Also, I haven’t found any body on this planet who has exactly the same opinion on any subject as me. How weird!
My wife and I had a lovely morning coffee session during my fast, without exchanging opinions on anything. It was so peaceful, there were no arguments. It was so good that we decided to continue on the same path for the rest of the day. We took a walk in a nearby forest, and for once, we listened to nature. The birds were very excited, because spring had just begun in this part of the world. Even the trees looked very happy, as they prepared to grow new leaves. We met a few people on this walking trail, along with their dogs, and they all had smiling faces. It’s so easy to be pleasant when we cross paths with perfect strangers during the journey of life.
Later in the day, I went down to my home office in the basement. With a fresh mind, I did concentrated work for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon, I went home (upstairs) for a satvic meal of rice, vegetables, lentils and yoghurt. However, I ate too much and felt lazy. I realized that too much of even sattvic food becomes tamasic.
The same thing, I realized, applies to our minds. Most of the time, we feed it stale, recycled food in the form of our opinions and other people’s opinions. Much of the news we see or read is like processed food. All of this is very tamasic for the mind, making us mentally very lazy. Even if we give the mind too much sattvic food, like reading too many sacred texts, or too many spiritual discourses, the mind may get an overload and the thoughts will become tamasic. We see this often in scholars who study religious texts to much, becoming overly proud of their knowledge. They are far removed from spirituality, spouting second hand knowledge from the sacred books at the drop of a hat. Such people have done a lot of damage to religion, re-enforcing harmful superstitions and stirring up hatred, all in the name of divinity.
A moderate dose of sattvic mental food in the morning is good enough for me; it makes the day go by more easily. As Om Swami ji says, we have to learn to take life a little lightly.
There were a few negative moments during my positivity day. I didn’t meet too many people that day in real life, but I couldn’t help checking WhatsApp messages. People offered opinions that irritated me, but I resisted the urge to write back.
Also, I found it a real pleasure to talk to my grandkids. Children are more innocent than most adults and they are full of the joy of living. It might be simply because they have less responsibilities, they have parents to take care of many things.
During my day of positivity, I realized I am no different. I have already resigned from my self-created position of being the general manager of the universe. I have handed this responsibility back to where it really belongs. If God is indeed our father, as many people believe, why should I carry this huge responsibility on my own shoulders?
The pitcher of my worries is broken, let God look after the universe that he has created so well. As the poet Browning says:
God is in his heaven
All’s right with the world.