Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox

Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox

by Jason Gregory
Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox

Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox

by Jason Gregory



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Combines cognitive psychology with Zen, Taoist, and Vedic practices to empty the mind

• Explains how eliminating external stimulation can alleviate stress and anxiety for a calmer state of mind

• Details meditation practices, such as open-awareness meditation, contemplation of Zen koans, and Vipassana meditation, and explores methods of digital detox

• Draws on classical yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism as well as cognitive science to explain how and why to fast the mind

Stop planning, stop comparing, stop competing, stop thinking, and just breathe deeply for a minute . . . Our undivided attention is something we are rarely able to give for reasons ranging from digital overload to the cultural conditioning of equating busyness with purpose. Just as you might choose a fast from eating to detoxify the body, the best way to overcome this modern mental overload is to periodically fast the mind.

Drawing on the spiritual philosophies and meditative practices of classical yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, Jason Gregory explains how fasting the mind directly impacts your habits and way of being in the world to create peace and calmness in your life as well as allow you to build a firm psychological defense against the increasing bombardment of distractions in our world. Applying psychology and cognitive science to samsara--the cycle of suffering created by our attachment to the impermanent--he explains how overreliance on the rational mind causes imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and suppresses our natural spontaneity, feelings, and intuition. When we are unable to relax the mind deeply, we enter a destabilizing state of stress and anxiety and are unable to liberate the true Self from the impermanence and limitations of the material world. Sharing Zen, Taoist, and Vedic practices to help you empty your mind and gradually restore your natural rhythms, the author shows how to give the mind time to truly relax from stimulation so it can repair itself and come back into equilibrium. He details simple meditation practices that are easy to implement in daily life, such as open-awareness meditation and contemplation of Zen koans, as well as the advanced techniques of Vipassana, a Theravadic Buddhist discipline centered on seclusion from all worldly stimuli. He also offers methods for digital detox and ensuring a good night’s sleep, a major support for healing cognitive impairment and restoring a state of equanimity.

By fasting the mind we strip away the distractions and stresses of modern life and return to our original nature as it exists deep within. We become more consciously awake in every moment, allowing us to feel the real beauty of the world and, in turn, to live life more fully, authentically, and peacefully.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620556474
Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Publication date: 05/25/2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 160
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. He is the author of The Science and Practice of Humility and Enlightenment Now.
Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. For several years he studied with masters in Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Hinduism, and Taoism, traveling to some of the most remote places in the world. The filmmaker of the documentary The Sacred Sound of Creation, he divides his time between Asia and Australia.

Read an Excerpt



Fasting the mind is easier said than done. It requires immense discipline and a transformation of lifestyle. But paradoxically it is not hard at all; it is the easiest thing in the world to accomplish because your true nature is an empty liberated mind. This ancient art of healing brings you back to the present moment, where you’ve always been in reality, and away from the illusion of past and future, which have clouded this reality. The ease we feel in life from a liberated mind is living in accord with our original enlightened nature, what I call “Zen in life.”


Indian spiritual guru and yoga adept Swami Satchidananda once said that enlightenment is not some fantastic event, but rather it is an ease we feel when we have stepped out of the murk of the personality and into the light of God. This ease comes because the contracted aspect of onsciousness we know as “I” has been downregulated. This frees us to live in the world without being a prisoner to our personality’s perception of the world. We see things as they truly are without labeling or naming the experience and what we are experiencing.

It is definitely beneficial to practice an art of spiritual cultivation, such as hatha yoga, t’ai chi, or a monastic lifestyle, but eventually you need to walk Zen in life, to live the purpose of a spiritual practice. To be Zen in life is not just about meditation, but instead life has become meditation, in the sense that our illusory perceptions of separation have disappeared, allowing us to experience the nondual, innate beauty of all life.


Fasting the mind is about starving the mind from the habitual comforts that tend to distract us from enlightenment. If you are constantly on a digital device, phone, computer, television, etc., there is no chance for your mind to reach equanimity. For example, how many of you have been on a digital device before bed and then toss and turn for hours? In recent times our sleeping patterns are out of sync, and insomnia is on the rise as a result of too much digital stimulation. In Chinese Taoism you are out of sync with nature’s rhythm when you are engaged in yang (masculine/active) activities at night because nighttime is for yin (feminine/receptive) energy, for rest and shutting down sense activity. If you engage in yang activities at night your mind becomes agitated and ready for action because it thinks it is the beginning of the day when yang is naturally high.

Methods of countering digital bombardment are necessary components of fasting the mind. One such method is “digital sunsets.” Digital sunset was a phrase coined by American philosopher and optimal life coach Brian Johnson. When 6 p.m., or even better 5 p.m., comes around all devices are shut down. This method reminds us of the importance of talking to each other face to face, eye to eye, and is also about following our biological nature. Scientific research has revealed that the pineal gland, a pea-size organ in the brain commonly associated with our spiritual soul, begins to release melatonin a few hours before your regular bedtime, which reduces your alertness and makes sleep more inviting. But the blue light in digital devices can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin and ultimately mess with our sleep patterns.

When you practice digital sunsets for a long time, you will feel your mind and nervous system begin to be more calm and relaxed, even during the daytime. Sleep becomes much deeper and easy to fall into. Just this simple practice will do a lot to transform your lifestyle. The more time we spend away from digital screens, the more we come back in resonance with nature and her cyclical rhythm.


Many of the mental diseases and cultural problems in the world have arisen from consuming mental complexity and identifying with its contents. By becoming conscious of what we consume, we simplify our lives. Our personality needs to be downregulated, and this can be achieved in the everyday discipline of simplifying our habits and lifestyle.

Every day has the potential to be a masterpiece or a disaster, dependent on whether you are practicing mind fasting in your life or not. When we fast the mind, the complex components of distraction are weeded out. The art of living mind fasting in our lifestyle is about getting back to the basics. What do we essentially need?

There are four essential components for manifesting a masterpiece day: meditation, exercise, healthy diet, and adequate rest--in no particular order. These four fundamentals should be evenly distributed, not in time, but in energy as all four require different amounts of energy. We should not overcompensate for one at the expense of another. This is done far too often by most people, especially in regard to rest. Most people live an excessively active life but do not get adequate rest, which leads to all sorts of psychological problems.

Without adequate rest the three remaining fundamentals suffer. It is essential to let our nervous system completely shut down every day for at least seven, preferably eight, hours to function at an optimal level of well-being. If we do consistently get adequate rest, our life becomes extremely vibrant as we tap into an unbridled enthusiasm for anything life offers, enhancing our productivity naturally in a nonegotistical manner. Sleep is the power base for the other three fundamentals. If we consistently get enough sleep, our meditation practice becomes deeper and more vivid, with the ability to silence the mind for longer periods of time, and we have more energy for consistent exercise routines as well as more enthusiasm for eating healthy food regularly.

Following these four fundamental fasting the mind lifestyle disciplines will give you a firm foundation in your everyday experience that will naturally evoke health, well-being, and the secret element of creativity.

Table of Contents


Introduction The Cure Is Ancient

1 The Need for Speed Is Suicide

2 War on the Nervous System

3 Cultural and Historical Background

4 The Ancient Science of Mind Fasting

5 The Modern Science of Mind Fasting

6 Downregulating the Sense of “I” with Mind Fasting

7 The Art of Practicing Mind Fasting

8 Fasting the Mind Evokes Enlightenment



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