[Fasts have long been a part of contemplative tradition. Monastics abstain from food to achieve greater clarity, embodiment, and spiritual vision. They change your physical reality, which in turn affects your emotional and spiritual realities. Indeed, the whole reason we do them is to bring about personal transformation. This series of blog posts—”Beer Fast”—documents the experiences of a pair of Artmonks as they undergo one western monastic fasting practice: consuming nothing but beer and water. With that in mind, these entries are raw, containing a higher-than-usual dose of intimate reflections.]
Day 15 of smoking / Day 5 beer
Last night was another rough night. I went to bed feeling quite nauseated again, but I thought I’d make it. Then, at 3:30 this morning, I woke up with my stomach in knots. I was literally moaning. I felt like a fermented tide was rising in me, and I didn’t think it would be pretty. Unfortunately, I was right. I’ll skip the details, but it felt like someone was wringing every bit of liquid out of my writhing shrunken stomach. That was the moment I decided that there was something wrong, either with me or with this fast. I’d crossed the line. This wasn’t a dehydration headache, this was my body telling me that it was literally sick from beer and water. I no longer felt like I could justify what I was doing to my body.
So, now its 10am, and I’m drinking the most conflicted cup of coffee I’ve ever known. I ate a guilty banana earlier, and I might have some ambivalent yoghurt in a minute. I don’t know if I can say I’ve learned my lesson. I’m willing to consider trying this again one day. I would probably put a bit more serious time into getting the ideal beer(s) for the journey, though. That was an element that just didn’t quite come together like we’d hoped. It’s one of the downfalls of living in the idyllic Italian countryside. Great wine, lousy beer. That’s one of those things that makes me miss California. Well, beyond what I “learned,” I’m really more interested in the processes I began, and the states of mind that altered my routines, my values, and my whole sense of self. When I removed all the time and thought that goes into food from my day, there seemed to be so much space. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I had the energy or mood to use it in all the ways I would have liked. I did finally start building new kinds discipline into my life, which really was one of my primary goals.
I will say, again, that I think this is probably not the path I would recommend for others who are trying to quit smoking, but it does seem to have sufficiently distracted me for at least a week. Oh yeah, today I am 2 weeks, tobacco-free!
All in all, I’m pretty bummed out that I decided I needed to exit the fast track, though I think I gave it my best shot. Even the 4 days of fasting I did make it through, not to mention the 4 or 5 days of dietary preparation, will probably be memories that stick with me for a long time. I have renewed respect for the value of every calorie and what I’m able to do with that energy. I’m a seriously lucky man to have lived a life where food is such a given that I have to make this huge concerted effort NOT to eat. So, I’ll finish with a bit of gratitude to serendipity, or whatever name you would give the power that has given me all that I have. I’m also so grateful to my fellow Artmonks, who were so critical in watching over my health, and making it easier for me to ask for help. I’m also grateful to all my people back home and abroad, whose ever-curious and supportive hearts and minds have continued to fill me with the courage to continue challenging myself in new (and ancient) ways.
I found incredibly varied information on several of these beers, so I would not take these numbers as gospel. They are reasonable estimates, I think.
websites I used:
Grimbergen (Dubbel) – 12oz. – 6.5% – 201 Calories – 18.5g Carbs – 1g Protein
Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier – 16oz. – 5.5% – 240 Calories – 23g Carbs – 1g Protein
Guinness – 12oz. – 4.2% – 125 Calories – 9.9g Carbs – 0.3g Protein
Chimay (Rouge) – 12oz. – 7% – 212 Calories – 19g Carbs – 1g Protein
Franziskaner Weissbier – 16oz. – 5% – 165 Calories – 16.7g Carbs – 1g Protein
Eggenberg Urbock – 11.2oz. – 9.6% – 276 Calories – 22g Carbs – 1g Protein
Wolf 8 Dark Ale – 24oz. – 8.5% – ? Calories – ?g Carbs – ?g Protein
Tabachèra (Double) – 16oz. – 9% – ? Calories – ?g Carbs – ?g Protein
Maltesse (Triple) – 24oz. – 7.7% – 231 Calories – ?g Carbs – ?g Protein