• Fasting during Ramadan is more than just fulflling religious expectations, says acclaimedlife coach Dr Sumaya Alnasser. There are deep spiritual benefts of the practice too

    With Ramadan starting soon, questions about the ninth Islamic month are surfacing once more with the most popular being: “what is the point of fasting?”

    Religiously, it is frst seen as an act of worship, a chance to strengthen the connection between the believer and God. It is also used as a method to gain insight into the lives of those less privileged and to become more compassionate towards people in need.

    Fasting, though, is much more than just that, says life coach Dr Sumaya Alnasser. There are several spiritual benefts to the act, making it something which every person should consider trying at least once.

    "Consumerism and materialism seem to have become today’s pursued virtues – in all their noise and chaos, our souls are drifting further away from a peaceful and spiritual connection with ourselves," said Dr Alnasser who is one of Saudi Arabia’s best-known female life and career coaches.

    “Our lives have become very materialistic – which includes food and body. When we fast during the holy month, the practice helps rearrange the spiritual connection and the order of materialism chaos; it makes us quieter and more insightful. We understand ourselves more which helps us make better choices and decisions about our life,” she added.

    While fasting in general just asks for abstinence from food and drinks for a period, in Islam that period is from dawn to dusk. More specifcally from the call to Fajr prayer to the call of Maghreb prayer.

    Abstaining from food and drink then allows for more time to be mental pursuits such as introspection. An average person spends around 70 minutes a day consuming food and this doesn't even take into account the time dedicated to thoughts spent planning meals. By removing such physical and mental stops from your day, you allow for the free flow of spiritual energy.

    "Fasting helps renew your body and mind and create a deeper awareness of your soul. You begin to think differently with more focus and clarity," said Dr Alnasser. “Subconsciously, it teaches you to be free from attachment as you strain from constant dominant thoughts of food and other things.”

    She added that understanding the depth of this experience requires experimentation.

    "Your body will enter into a state of unfulflled chaos before your emotions and thoughts begin to deal with the new situation according to a better level of awareness," she said.

    Outside of Ramadan, for those who wish to try fasting, Dr Alnasser recommends starting small: “Try going on short fasts frst or just indulging in simple meals. First-timers will feel the taxing effects on the body as you abstain from nourishing yourself but will slowly fnd themselves more reflective and perceptive of other things as they fnd more time is free.”