Mindful Fasting by Emily Shaw, Founder of Amaveda

MINDFUL FASTING by Emily Shaw, Founder Of Amaveda

I have been guiding people through various liquid fasts for the last 5 years and I am still continually inspired and excited by the way people respond to fasting. Here is a direct copy from one of the participants during the fasting period of the home detox.

“I've never felt better and super focused - totally cleared out my 3 year's blocked up email inbox, I GOT SO MUCH DONE YESTERDAY. I've been suffering with fatigue for a year and it feels cleared, I actually feel high, like I'm on plant drugs, I'm literally in 8th gear but also feel really grounded...”

I have witnessed dozens of other such experiences with my clients during the fasting days of the programme. Now obviously, the issue of physical hunger does arise during a fast and yes, it can be a force to be reckoned with. By leaning into the experience of hunger, by examining it and appreciating it, the act of fasting can also provide an exceptional platform for developing an accelerated mindfulness practice, in under 36-hours.


Just to clarify, fasting is an effective and safe method of detoxifying the body. There are hundreds of scientific and independent studies on the practice of fasting as a way of healing and the body and fighting off illness and degenerative diseases. A person can fast on one specific food type or liquid or a combination or simply water intake.


I learned from Forbes that in 2016 more than 677 papers on mindfulness were published in scientific journals (up from 47 published a decade earlier) which has led to a $4-billion-dollar industry so it’s clearly something the collective is benefiting from. Here are some of the best definitions of Mindfulness I could gather up:

“Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment – without interpretation or judgment. -Mayo Clinic

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley

“Mindfulness shows us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and in the world. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others.” Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh

“The practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”- Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Okay, so point being, mindfulness is BEING IN IT. Not fixing it, not remedying it, not distracting it, not hiding it, just being aware of what IS.


For many years, during the fasting periods of my programmes I would provide tips and hacks to help participants not feel hungry. Luckily, much less than expected to everyone’s delight, but I still wanted to provide all the tools possible to prevent my clients from feeling something they didn’t want to feel. And then it hit me, maybe they should also know they can choose to just BE hungry when they are hungry, mindfully.


FIRST AND FOREMOST: You can be extremely grateful that your experience of hunger is BY CHOICE and that this is a process you are willingly participating in for the purpose of your enhanced health and wellbeing. You can be extremely grateful that you are not actually “starving” a verb that means suffering or dying from hunger/lack of nutrition, but more accurately temporarily experiencing the feeling of hunger. You can then go even deeper and feel the feeling of hunger as perceived by millions of our global citizens every day and in this very moment. This includes people of all ages and all countries, even people in your own country, your own community and maybe even just around the corner from you. Allow this shared present-moment experience to ignite compassion within your entire body, reaching down into all your cells and give deep thanks for the impermanence of this feeling in your body and in your life experience.


Physically, when your body is expecting food and the digestive enzymes are active in your gut, it will send hunger messages to the brain. One need to be fasting for approximately 3 days before these signals slow right down and then finally stop altogether. You will hear from people who have fasted for 7-10 days that it gets easier and easier as the ‘hunger’ feeling subsides. So if we have the mechanism in place to eventually ‘override’ the hunger feelings. can we be more engaged with them when they are active? On an emotional level, not eating can bring up many responses. the most common emotional responses are anger and sadness. This is not surprising since we so often eat to satiate these unwanted feelings. So what is it, this hunger? A burning? An ache? A cramp? Is is as bad as a headache? Have a look at it objectively. What emotions are they provoking and are they even real? If normally hunger is a call to action, what is it now? Can you disassociate this present moment with the physical experience?

The way fasting has enriched the work I do seems to just keep getting richer. I continue to find another way in, another way to play in the space of fasting. Scientific studies and cited research papers on the effects of fasting on our mind, our mitochondria, the rate of synapse strength, ketosis and access to deeper inner tranquillity are limited as there is no money to be made, and therefore no money to fund the research. It’s a wonderful practice that I hope to help more people feel excited about and I hope the mindfulness approach will be yet another benefit to highlight.

Emily’s 7-day at-home detox programmes and detox retreats run at set times throughout the year in the UK and Peru. Her next guided at-home programme is running in the UK this MAY 4-11
Get in touch via emily@ama-veda.com


Sheena Skinner