Each year I fast on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest of holy days in the Jewish year. Fasting, as with any activity, carries the meaning that we as individuals choose. Traditionally, the Yom Kippur fast represents a vehicle for private reflection, asking forgiveness of others as well as of ourselves.
For me, I have found that my fast is an avenue to practice observing my urges and, therefore, my thoughts. In this way, I become more familiar with my thought processes, and seek to become more tolerant and loving of myself.
The reminder to grant forgiveness to ourselves is important. Learning to love ourselves is not always easy or intuitive. We may find, upon reflection, that we are clinging to the past and stuck in a history steeped in “how I messed up” and keeping a story of “I’m not good enough” alive.
Yom Kippur is an opportunity to start fresh. To refresh, as on the computer screen, means to update. We can learn during this time of reflection to update ourselves; reviewing the past year, keeping what works and adding to or updating new insights, desires and ways to be in the world. Embracing our flaws and celebrating the imperfection of being human. Making the changes we desire and moving forward.
The choice to not engage in eating for the 25 hour period represents a time to be wholly reflective of what we have and how we can make better choices in the coming year with gratitude for all of it. When I break my fast with my daughter, I experience an overwhelming appreciation for the completion of another year and of what is yet to be revealed.