Good health typically incorporates mind, body, and spirit. At times, it can be a balancing act trying to maintain all areas of health, but in the end it turns out to be worth the work, patience, and prayer.

One technique many holistic doctors, spiritualists, and mediators recommend is fasting, which has the potential to address all components of health at the same time.

Fasting, in its most conservative sense, is to go without food or water for an allotted amount of time, whether that is for a health, religious, mental, or even business reason. Fasting has been practiced for centuries and in most recent times, activists have gone days without consuming a bite of food to protest injustices like world hunger, civil rights, and legislation.

In the case of spirituality, fasting is used to help people strengthen their connection with God, open up their Chakras, or to connect with the universe.

Christians often fast to draw closer to God. Victoria Epperly writes in “Daniel’s Lifestyle Fasting Cook Book,” “… Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves before God, letting Him know that we are ready and willing to exchange our physical comforts just to seek His presence for a spiritual purpose. As a spiritual discipline, fasting is the act … to focus more fully on seeking God’s face, not His hands, and feeding the spiritual man.”

Everyone needs to eat. Fasting forces individuals to redirect their attention from satisfying physical requirements to attending to spiritual needs to make spiritual or mental change.

Gabriel Cousens, author of “Conscious Eating,” writes that fasting is one of the easiest techniques used for holistic revitalization.

“Fasting is perhaps the simplest and most remarkable self-healing approach related to our food intake for rebalancing and clearing the body and mind, and elevating the spirit,” she writes. “It is one of the greatest health benefits. Although classically defined as complete abstinence from food and water, in a larger context it means to abstain from that which is toxic to body, mind, and spirit.”

Cousens also says that fasting naturally clears toxins from the brain, which in turn, affect our spiritual and mental functions. She has observed that when people fast, their thinking expands, depression is lifted, emotional and bodily tension subside, and creativity improves.

Other benefits include self-control.

Beginning a fast is never easy, but the after the first two days, it seems to get better. Many spiritualists and even dietitians recommend that if you are a “virgin” faster, begin with one day to familiarize yourself with the experience. Fasting is especially challenging for people who have never committed to the practice before and for those who are used to eating three square meals a day. But it is a sacrifice worth making for all around health.

The Daniel fast is a popularly referenced Biblical and spiritual fast. In the book of Daniel (in the Bible), the young prophet was among the Babylonians but as a Jew, his customs did not agree with those in Babylon. Daniel refused to defile his body with the food they offered him–food designated for Babylonian gods. So, Daniel began a fast to strengthen his resistance and remain true to his god. His fast proved to be beneficial and empowering in the midst of heavy spiritual warfare.

Experts concur that fasting is a serious venture. Establishing your purpose before you begin is an important first step. Bill Bright, a writer with Campus Crusade for Christ International, recommends making a commitment to what kind of fast you will make, how long you will fast, and how much time you will dedicate to mediation or prayer each day. He also says to prepare spiritually before you begin.

This includes seeking God, or that spiritual being or energy you seek for guidance. Finally, always take into consideration your current health conditions or medications you are taking.

Fasting is not just for the Christian experience. People from all walks of life, religions, and faiths fast for a spiritual breakthrough. It is a sacrifice and can be a challenge for many. Fasting with a spiritual partner or establishing accountability with someone may be helpful for staying on your path.