Qigong for Weight Loss Case Study: Day 5
The intensity of life just increased! Day 5 is a good milestone to reach with fasting as the old pre-fasting life experience starts to feel like a distant memory.
The scale greeted me this morning with a happy reading of 12.8 pounds of weight loss since the fast began.
That’s a nice way to wake up!
My morning Qigong session was so intense that I hit the limit of the amount of energy that I could take. The only experiences that I can relate such high-energizing experiences to are skydiving, or taking a very high dose of magic mushrooms.
The combination of fasting for 5 days and doing intense Qigong gives you access to such power and intensity most people wouldn’t believe possible. Like skydiving, you can experience the intensity of life that transcends normal experience. It’s also exhilarating! Living like this just makes me want to experience more!
The best part about this is that you can do Qigong anywhere that you can stand safely with eyes closed. Everything you need is freely available to you.
Once you’ve made it to day 5, the changes are more gradual. There are deeper levels, but they don’t come as quickly as the changes that happen over the first few days.
At this point, staying on the fast longer becomes mental. Today I’m going to discuss the mindset for fasting and introduce a mental technique for activating the dantian.
Note: This blog post is also a supplement to the video above, so be sure to watch the video for the full story 🙂
Fasting Mindset: 5 Tips for Fasting Success
Once you’ve built up the ability to go 5 days without food, 7, 11, or even 21 are simply just a mental game. You’re over 90% of the physical challenges and changes. Whether you keep fasting or not at this point is a question of mindset.
For over a year I fasted roughly 50% of the time. Most of the days I ate, I ate only one meal (didn’t limit that meal, these were as much as I wanted to eat). I did plenty of 3-5 day fasts, several 10 day fasts and one 14 day fast. I’ve done one 21 day fast before when I was a monk on Maui, so this one is a way to tie my previous record and expand my fasting capacity as well.
During this time I’ve developed some ways of thinking that serve the fasting process well. The practice of Qigong has helped me to observe my thinking process and these observations have allowed me to fast as long as I choose.
Fasting Mindset Tip #1
Don’t plan to eat.
A common trap that people attempting to fast can fall into is planning to eat. You may see a commercial on tv, or smell someone cooking something. You also want to stay on the fast.
You might be tempted to plan that meal for when the fast is over.
Don’t do that!
When you start to imagine preparing the meal, you start activating the part of your brain that wants to eat. You’re turning on emotions that will try to support the desire to eat.
Many fasters will start to plan the meal that they break the fast with towards the middle to end of their fast. Once you’ve gone several days without food, your body really does give up the desire to eat. Your mind on the other hand can trigger this sensation.
You don’t have to plan how you break the fast. The perfect way to do it is to wait until the fast is over and decide then how to do it.
At the point at which your fast is over you will be able to consciously choose the thing that will be most pleasing to you. If you do it that way, you’re going to have a happier experience because you’re choosing what you want, not what you’ve pre-planned.
If you’ve fasted for longer than three day you will want to break your fast gradually. When you’re ready to do this look at my post from day #21 where I will give full guidelines on how to do that. You can also leave a comment asking me how to do so and I’ll respond with an answer as well 🙂
If you see food that you would normally want to eat, try to avoid thinking about eating it. To do this, use the next strategy on the list.
Fasting Mindset Tip #2
Postpone Eating Desires until “Later.”
I’ve found this to be super helpful.
When faced with a desire to eat something. You see something appealing or an idea crosses your mind, this little trick is an excellent way to work with your mind so it doesn’t fight you.
Somewhere within you the desire to eat that thing is there. Don’t fight it, it’s a real desire and there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the impulse.
What you can do is to think to yourself “I’ll have that later, sometime after the fast.”
Don’t set a fixed time like the day after the fast. Don’t mentally go over the recipe in your head. Think about the truth that after you’re done fasting, you’ll go through a process of returning to eating things like that and when the time is right you will have it again in your life.
Because you’re fasting and improving your health, you’re going to live longer. There will be plenty of time to eat that thing later.
Don’t be specific about when. You can trust that you won’t forget about eating your favorite foods for the rest of your life. You’ve eaten these things before and there will definitely be opportunities to eat them again.
Now is not the right time for that, just leave it open as a future reality. By putting this thought into the “later” or “eventually” or even better, “someday.” You’ll stop yourself from dwelling on it and your mind can more easily let it go.
Fasting Mindset Tip #3
Appreciate the smell of food, without wanting to eat it.
While fasting your sense of smell will become more sensitive. I can smell the food that neighbors 2 doors down are cooking. I can smell the garlic from a quarter mile away.
We’re used to smelling food and wanting to eat it.
We don’t have to eat food just because we smell it!
Practice appreciating the smell of the food as a separate joy. Many people who aren’t eating are afraid of smelling good food. Unless you sequester yourself in a remote cabin or hotel room, you’re going to smell someone else’s food.
Embrace the nice fragrant smell. You can unlink it in your mind to eating.
Say to yourself “That smells really nice. I don’t have to eat that food in order to appreciate that is a nice smell.”
Alternatively, smells will become stronger. So much so that certain strong-smelling foods which you normally like to eat may smell “overpowering” and you’ll naturally think “Wow! That’s potent! How could anyone eat that?”
This is a wonderful thing. It’s nice when you automatically have a reaction that makes you want to stay on course!
Fasting Mindset Tip #4
You don’t need anything from outside yourself.
Contemplate the thought that you don’t need anything outside yourself.
You are complete. You have everything you need within yourself. You can access abundant Qi energy.
Play with this idea.
Make it a game. Ask yourself related questions like “Right now, do I have everything I need inside myself?” “At this moment do I actually need anything outside of myself?”
Ask these questions in the moment. Don’t rationalize and say “Well, I will eventually need some food, or other stuff.” If you do that, you’re missing the point.
Try to ask yourself yourself with the intention of right now. Once you realize that you’re ok in this moment and have everything you need already, you can extend this to realize that for the next little while (5 minutes, 15 minutes, an hour or at least a few more hours), you really don’t need anything else.
Combine this concept with what I discussed in day 3 about allowing your emotions and you’ll see that even if you have an unpleasant feeling or emotion, you are still ok and you have the power within yourself to deal with that emotion.
Many people want to run from something unpleasant. Life will have its difficulties and you can’t escape them all. Embrace your experience and shine the light of energy on difficult experiences and the Qi will flow and heal you.
Fasting Mindset Tip #5
Everything You Need is Within You.
This is the flip side of tip #4. Even though it touches on the same idea, saying it differently does initiate a different response in our thinking.
Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have enough or aren’t enough to deal with life.
You have more power than you think!
You also only have as much power as you think you have. If you’re intelligent enough to access the Internet and find and read these words, you’ve already passed the test on having enough capacity to do anything you decide to do.
Trust that you have everything you need and you will.
Tune into your body and pay attention to how you feel. If you feel good, then keep moving in the direction that you’re moving. You’ll know when something’s not right.
There may be times when you need to break a fast early. Maybe you tried a longer fast than you’re ready for. Connect with how you really feel.
I didn’t decide to do a 21 day fast one day and just do it. I wrote about this process in the Qigong for Weight Loss book. I started with the simple idea that I would wait until I was actually hungry until I ate something. I paid close attention to my body and felt better without eating for longer periods of time.
I stretched my capacity to go without food until I naturally began going days and weeks without eating. There were times that I felt that I should eat, and I did. It wasn’t coming from the outside, I made the choice that was right for me.
Fasting for longer periods of time also felt right, so I began to do it longer.
I really enjoy the experience of not eating. I feel the energy flowing more freely and my body heals itself deeply. I can feel it happening within me. I was born with the ability to do this, and so are you. You just haven’t learned how to pay attention to it.
Qigong is the best tool for paying attention to your body. Here’s a mental Qigong technique to connect to your tan tien:
Connecting to the Tan Tien
On day #1 and day #4 I focused on the dantian. The dantian is so fundamental that you’ll be working with it for the rest of your life in Qigong practice. We will always come back to it in a deeper way.
Dantian is also spelled tan tien. I spell it both ways so you know they’re the same 🙂
Training the tan tien is even more important at the beginner level of Qigong. Today we’re going to go one step further in connecting to the tan tien.
Many people believe that Qigong is only physical movements (similar to Tai Chi or Yoga). They don’t realize that Qigong is more focused on the mind directing Qi than just physical movements.
Connecting physical movements with the mind can help the mind to focus, and we want to make those connections. I’m sharing this technique with you to show you that you can also do Qigong purely with your mind. This makes Qigong accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical capacity.
This technique is very simple.
Dp this without moving your fingers, hands or body. Be still in any comfortable position. You can choose a Qigong posture, or just be still in any position for this one.
Imagine a point the size of a pea or a bb about 2 inches below your belly button and 2 inches inside your body. Without moving your hands or fingers, imagine your fingers reaching into your dantian and squeezing this point with your index finger and your thumb.
Squeeze this point with your imagined fingers and pull if very gently towards the inside of your body, towards your spine. Try to imagine the pressure of your dantian being pulled inward. Mentally stretch your dantian about 1 inch. Don’t pull it in further. Rather, imagine that you’re holding it pulled inwardly and if you were to let go it would return back to it’s original position.
Keep this constant yet gentle tugging pressure on the dantian for a few minutes.
This exercise will help your mind connect to the dantian. Two benefits of doing this are that your mind will more strongly know where the dantian is, and once your mind connects with the dantian it can send energy there.
With a little bit of regular daily practice, you will train your dantian to activate. Do this for a few minutes several times a day and after some time your tan tien will start to activate on it’s own.
Day 5 Without Food: Timeline
Day 5 happened on March 27th, 2020. I finished my overnight work for the week and today I transition to my regular awake during the day schedule.
Here’s what I did during day 5:
Finished up at work. Performed my security rounds and did 30 minutes of Qigong in one session.
Drove home from work, showered, watched an episode of The Wire, drank 2 glasses of water. Did the Qigong for Weight Loss practices for 30 minutes before going to sleep.
Slept for a few hours having been awake all night. I'll go back to sleep tonight and wake up at 4:30 am to restart my normal days.
Woke up and weighed in at 225.1, that's 12.8 pounds of total weight loss in 4 days! Wrote this blog post, recorded and uploaded the accompanying video. Had a few glasses of water, didn't count how many. Probably 3-4 glasses.
Spent time with my wife. We both had a busy and full week. Since I worked for the past two nights, extra quality time was needed. Went to sleep around 10:00. Great day!
Final Thoughts About Day 5:
The simple lesson for today that sums it up is that after you’ve gotten over the initial discomfort with the transition to not eating, the entire process is reduced to a mental game of choosing to continue the fast or not.
Qigong is about challenging your mind in a comfortable way. You can choose to challenge yourself in as an extreme way as possible. Qigong is about expanding your capacity by gradually challenging you to go a little further outside of your comfort zone.
Doing this frees energy and strengthens your body and mind, awakening you to new possibilities.
Have you been following this adventure day by day? What have you learned? What difficulties have you encountered? How have you challenged yourself and expanded your capacity? Or do you feel stuck? Where do you feel stuck?
Leave a comment below and let’s both expand in the process 🙂
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