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Fasting the Mind

Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

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.




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.

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. 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.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (June 13, 2017)
  • Length: 160 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620556467

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Raves and Reviews

“I love ‘mind fasting’ because it gives us a fresh take on the word meditation and the concept of entering silence to rediscover our true, harmonious nature. . . . Interesting, simple, and doable.”

– Penney Peirce, author of Leap of Perception and Frequency

“Jason Gregory not only explores the threat of cosmopolitan priorities to our physical and mental functionality, but more importantly, he leverages ancient wisdom to create an actionable plan, allowing the reader to embrace tranquility.”

– David Perlmutter, M.D., author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker

“A highly intelligent and profound work sorely needed in our modern, overstimulated world. Jason Gregory blends modern science and ancient spiritual wisdom to show us why mental overstimulation is so harmful. He then offers us a pathway to healing the mind, achieving emotional balance and moving deeper into true self-awareness. Enlightening and transformative on multiple levels. . . . a must-read for all seekers.”

– Brad Willis (aka Bhava Ram), author of Warrior Pose and The 8 Limbs of Yoga

“I love ‘mind fasting’ because it gives us a fresh take on the word meditation and re-enlivens the concept of entering silence to rediscover our true, harmonious nature. Especially today, we need this reminder: Dive into boredom! Dump the need for speed! Delete distractions! Jason Gregory brings his wealth of historical and cross-cultural knowledge to this practice, making it interesting, simple, and doable.”

– Penney Peirce, author of Leap of Perception and Frequency

“Jason Gregory advises us to slow down, breathe, and embrace the silence at our core. Gregory is the White Rabbit of Through the Looking Glass who once advised Alice, ‘Don’t just do something, stand there.’”

– Dana Sawyer, author of Aldous Huxley: A Biography

“Who doesn’t want a stronger more settled mind? No matter how enlightened you are or aren’t this book will make you stop and think in new ways.”

– Jason Nemer, cofounder of AcroYoga

“Fasting the mind is the missing link for embodying pure happiness and eliminating your stress and anxiety. This book is wise, deep, thorough, and well-researched. . . . Put down your smartphone and not only read this book, but use it! Get onto your personal path to inner peace, optimal health, and enlightenment--a return to your true nature--as you clear away all the interference.”

– Lisa M. Selow, author of A Rebel Chick Mystic’s Guide

“Fasting the Mind discusses with depth and clarity one of the most important aspects of internal cultivation. . . . the mind must be disconnected from distracting stimuli in order for change to take place. Jason discusses with skill and accuracy why this is vital to our practice and places this ancient concept into a modern context. Vital reading. . . .”

– Damo Mitchell, author of White Moon on the Mountain Peak

“Stop distracting yourself, take time to breathe, and let this fascinating book soak in--your nervous system will thank you for it. Fasting the Mind is a treasure of a book in a world that so badly needs it.”

– Kingsley L. Dennis, Ph.D., author of The Phoenix Generation

“A mixture of modern-day science and astute scholarship gleaned from the ancient texts of wisdom cultures, Fasting the Mind contributes to the understanding of how the mind can be transformed from self-centeredness into an inseparable union with all that is . . . when consciousness lives with just what is. For the sake of all beings, we need to listen, ingest, and live this reality.”

– Rodney Smith, author of Awakening: A Paradigm Shift of the Heart

“Goes straight to the point in language that is both thoughtful and uncompromising. . . . Slowing down, pulling back, checking indulgence, and paying attention allow us to smell the roses and appreciate the beauty and magic of life.”

– Robert Sachs, author of Becoming Buddha and The Ecology of Oneness

“A concise, ambitious, and fascinating exploration of all things awakening. From social stress to our nervous system, the Vedas to Zen, Jason Gregory guides readers in a very accessible way to the truth of their being.”

– Chris Grosso, author of Indie Spiritualist and Everything Mind

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