Yesterday I undertook a twenty-four hour fast. I did it as part of a solidarity compaign for Shaker Aamer. He is the last British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay prison. He has just gone on hunger strike himself. The campaign has been organised by human rights activists to raise awareness of his plight.
I managed a full day but Shaker Aamer is aiming for much longer. I had all the distractions of the modern world to keep me occupied. Imagine what it must be like to fast in a cell.
I started the day with a cup of hot water. To begin with I felt fine. I walked the dog and felt quite energetic. The only things allowed were water and tea. I really missed my caffeine and I realised I am probably addicted to coffee as a raging headache set in. I kept drinking water throughout the day. At lunch time I allowed myself a cup of tea which was wonderfully comforting.
By the afternoon I was feeling lightheaded and a little shaky. I still had a headache. I did another dog walk and felt slightly surreal. I could feel my mind sharpening and my senses becoming more acute.
I meditated and did some very light yoga. I felt better.
I managed to read and do some light housework. In the evening I curled up and watched TV, falling asleep by nine.
I woke up at half past three still with a bad headache.
Try as I might I could not get properly back to sleep so I just lay there thinking. I got up and broke the fast with a smoothie made from fat free milk, cocoa powder, a banana, non-fat Greek yoghurt and a spoon of instant coffee all blitzed up in the blender. Wow, it tasted good and after downing it I felt instantly better. My headache dissipated and a calm, relaxed feeling overcame me.
All in all it is not that difficult to fast just for one day. I am not sure in my present state of mind if I would be able to do it for longer. The headache is the worst part. I felt tired and didn’t have much energy so I would not have been able to work. I would like to build up to doing longer fasts but I need to practise with one day ones for a while. I have the utmost respect for anyone who uses a hunger strike as a means of peaceful protest. It takes a lot of self-discipline.
I think fasting can be a useful spiritual tool. It puts you more in touch with yourself. Thoughts clarify. It can also help with weight loss. I lost half a kilo.
I hope the campaign at least does something to help Shaker Aamer and to hasten the closure of Guatanomo Bay.