A Practical Guide to Water Fasting for Spiritual Healing & Transformation

Several years ago, I came across a video on YouTube of a man breaking a 21-day water fast. He looked quite emaciated and fragile as he bit into a slice of watermelon and I remember thinking “what a nutter!” I didn’t understand why anyone would go without food for 21 days.

Earlier this year I completed my first 20 day fast — and I could never have imagined I would be in that position of having completed a long fast of my own!

I fasted for that long because I’ve been pulling out all the stops to heal a serious illness and evict every trace of it from my body forever. The illness is mostly asymptomatic these days but I want it gone permanently and I don’t want any future flares. So I’ve been pulling out the big guns. Long water fasting is one of the big guns.

I have come to believe that long water fasting (14 days +) can heal illness, trauma and grief. It can make you grow and change in the most positive of ways. It can shift you out of a stuck place, even if you have been there for years. It can even push past life and present life wounds out of your physical and etheric bodies to be released (more on my experience with that later in the article). It can also help you to release serious or deep blocks to manifesting what you want in life.

The first time I witnessed the benefits of water fasting for myself was when I was suffering from anti-depressant withdrawal side effects. After 2 years on an anti-depressant, I decided to come off (this was a while back). I came off over a period of 6 weeks and the withdrawal was incredibly difficult. I had panic and anxiety (which I hadn’t had prior to going on the meds). I had insomnia and I was exhausted. Additionally, I suffered from nausea and poor appetite and all of this went on for about 4 months. I did a 12 day water fast and after that, I had no more withdrawal symptoms. It was so restorative and healing for me!

The sheer power of a long water fast in bringing about changes to body, mind and spirit may well be unmatched by anything else. (The only intervention that has come close to the power of water fasting in terms of creating change for me has been revision.)

This is perhaps why water fasting is practised in most religions and spiritual traditions, in some form – people have long known that fasting is powerful.

In this article, I’m going to share practical tips on water fasting for spiritual healing and growth. I have received questions since I wrote my last article on fasting about how to do it, so I’m going to explain how I do it and what I wish I’d known when I started fasting.

Before I go into my tips, I do want to say: please bear in mind that this article is not a prescription, medical advice or instructions. You must do your own research before you fast, and ideally speak to your doctor before fasting. Some people (such as people with certain heart conditions and eating disorders) should not fast. People who take medications may not be able to fast. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and minors should not fast. Whatever you might do with the info in this article is your responsibility, and yours alone.

That said, Water Fasting is pretty safe for many people

(More on that here.)

Humans have been fasting since the beginning of time. We keep body stores of some vitamins and minerals which the body draws on during a fast (more about that later in this article.)

I’ve safely completed 3 long fasts — of 7, 12 and 20 days. Some people do 40 day fasts. I recently read about a naturopathic doctor (Dr Nasha Winters) who completed a 60 day fast when she was diagnosed with terminal stage 4 ovarian cancer a few decades ago. She was told she had only days to live and she couldn’t be treated because of a bowel blockage. This meant she couldn’t eat. So, she went home to die. Except she didn’t die. She believes that the bowel blockage and the 60 day fast saved her life. After the 60 days, the blockage cleared and she was able to eat again, and she’s still alive and cancer free, decades later. So, the body can handle very long fasts in some cases, although longer than 40 days isn’t usually recommended. (I don’t personally fast for more than 21 days because I’m not carrying enough extra weight to fast for any longer than that.)

OK, let’s get into all the practical knowledge I can share with you about water fasting.

I’ve split it up into 12 main points. Let’s start with the most basic one:

1. One of the questions I have had is, what is water fasting? Can you drink juice during a fast, or drink broth?

Water fasting is just what it sounds like — water and nothing else. No supplements, no electrolytes, no juices and no source of nourishment whatsoever.

When you put nothing but water into your body, you create the opportunity for the deepest kind of detox and healing. When we’re eating, some of our body’s energy is spent on digestion and the processing of substances that we ingest. When we don’t eat, this energy is freed up and spent on healing, repair and detoxification (of the body, mind, heart and soul.)

When you add electrolytes, supplements or juices, the detox and healing slow down on all levels. (Of course, juice fasting is another option and it works for detox too, but it’s just not as powerful as water fasting.)

Adding in foods like broth or honey will break the fast.

This is the way my fasting coach Tallis Barker recommends people fast, so I’ve always done my water fasts this way.

Beyond 21 days, things can occasionally get a bit trickier with electrolytes and so it can be helpful to do a fast longer than 21 days supervised by a naturopath or doctor. (On such a long fast, unless you are experienced it can be hard to tell detox symptoms from the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance, which is where an experienced fasting guide or coach can come in). Tallis Barker is one option for such a long fast and he works with people online. Another place that offers support for a long fast is the TrueNorth Center in California, which is a residential facility.

2. Let’s have a look at how to choose the length of your fast.

A general rule is that the longer the fast is, the more transformative it is likely to be.

A 7 day water fast will allow your body to ‘clean house’ and do a physical detox, but it’s often not enough time to create a shift physically, emotionally or spiritually.

If you’re fasting to heal a serious illness, a minimum time would be 14 days, and preferably 21 days +

What I didn’t realise when I tried water fasting was that a 21 day fast was so much more powerful than a 7 day fast. I thought maybe 3 x 7 day fasts would equal a 21 day fast. But they don’t. The kind of healing momentum that is generated on a 21 day fast is very different from what you will get on a 7 day fast, even when you repeat it multiple times.

I wish I knew this when I first started fasting. I was expecting amazing results from my first 7 day fast but I didn’t really see any. I did see results however from both my 12 day fast and my 20 day fast.

So if you want to create significant change (physically, spiritually or emotionally) through fasting, you’re looking at something 14 days + and maybe 21 days or longer.

3. Jumping in at the deep end, or easing in?

Of course, some people simply aren’t ready to jump into a 21 day fast right off the bat. I eased in slowly. I did a 3 day and a 4 day fast before I attempted the 7 day fast. Then I worked up to 12 days and finally 20 days, over the space of about 18 months.

Some people need to do it that way and others are happy to jump in at the deep end.

4. Healing crises

There’s often a healing crisis during water fasting that occurs at the end of week 2 (around days 13-14) and again at the end of week 3 (around days 19-21). The symptoms of these crises can seem alarming or weird.

For example, I used to get bladder infections a long time ago (in childhood I was hospitalised for it.) On my 20 day fast, I got the symptoms of a bladder infection at the end of week 2 and again at the end of week 3. It wasn’t an actual bladder infection because I didn’t get all the symptoms. It felt more like an ‘echo’ of a bladder infection.

During the end of weeks 2 and 3 on a long water fast, the body does sometimes reactivate old problems before it expels them for good. These symptoms can be unsettling unless you know what is happening.

Water fasts can sometimes be rocky for other reasons. For example, on many of my water fasts, I’ve suffered nausea (which is a symptom of detox) and some people get reflux. The nausea hasn’t ever been so unbearable that I’ve had to stop, but on my recent 20 day fast, towards the end I was spending a fair amount of time in bed due to nausea and I also vomited a couple of times.

5. A 21 day fast could lead to 3 months of healing in total

What I didn’t realise before I did the 20 day fast was that the healing power of the fast continues for up to 2 months afterwards.

Dr William Kelley (the late alternative cancer doctor) said that healing is 100% physical, 100% psychological and 100% spiritual.

These levels reflect one another and there is a complex interplay between physical toxicity and emotional/spiritually toxicity. When you detox physically, you also trigger a detox on the emotional and spiritual level. This is what happened to me. I had a past life trauma come to the surface for healing about 5 weeks after my 20 day fast ended…

I started having flashbacks of masonry falling on me in my sleep. The flashbacks kept happening so I asked Spirit what that was about. I was given the date of an earthquake in California and when I Googled it, it was the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake.

Amazingly, a previous student of mine at this time also emailed me to tell me that she had seen me in 1920s garb while watching one of my videos. We were friends in that life and began to recall details of the same events that took place in the 1920s. The past life wound was deeply intertwined with the illness/health crisis that I had had 2.5 years ago. Would that past life have surfaced if I hadn’t fasted? Who knows. I do know that the fast gave my physical and etheric bodies space and time to expel the past life wound.

That past life wound has been the central dilemma of my lifetime, and the karma has been playing out intensely for the last 2.5 years. I know the illness was part and parcel of it. It was like a karmic ‘test’ that I managed to pass (was I going to do the same things I did in past lives or was I going to do something different?) and when I did pass the ‘test’, the illness became asymptomatic. The body knew what it was doing during that fast — it was expelling the residues of the past life wound and healing it for good.

6. Working full time during a long fast isn’t recommended

I worked part time for the first 14 days of my 20 day fast and did OK with that, but I was also aware I didn’t want to expend too much energy on work — after all, long fasts are about freeing up energy from digestion for an extended period, so that the body can work on healing and detox. If you’re using that extra energy to work, you’re defeating the purpose of the fast and you probably won’t gain the benefits.

I realise this is one of the biggest barriers to fasting, at least for people who work full time.

7. Fasting is ungrounding

When I do a long fast, it’s as if I’m no longer fully in my body on the earth plane. Obviously I’m not fully in the spirit world either. I find that when I fast I’m in between the two worlds. In my view, this is why a fast feels so powerful — it’s like partly exiting the body for a time so that it can heal, regenerate and do what it needs to do. I didn’t fully come back into body until several weeks after the fast had ended, and when I did, my body and psyche were changed. Note that when I’m speaking about not being in my body during fasting, it’s not that I’m dissociating. It’s different somehow, but I can’t explain it any further than that.

8. Week 3 of a fast is tiring

Fatigue starts to kick in much more after day 14 and can intensify towards day 21, especially if you’re fasting to heal chronic illness. I was mostly bedridden for the last few days of the 20 day fast.

Also, something else I didn’t realise is that it can takes about 4-6 weeks after a 3 week fast to return to full body strength and energy.

9. Supplementing

As mentioned, I don’t take supplements during a fast, but I do take them before and after.

Obviously water fasting is nutritionally depleting, and some people are not well nourished. I wanted to offset that aspect and so I take minerals prior to a fast (and afterwards.) Not just the well-known ones such as magnesium and calcium, but also all of the trace ones. And I take B vitamins, along with other food-based supplements.

Some people may be deficient in minerals. Stress causes the body to lose minerals in the urine, so if you’ve been under stress in recent times or long term, it could be a good idea to remineralise if you’re planning to fast.

The herbicide roundup (traces of which can be found in conventional produce) chelates minerals, both in the soil and from the body — particularly molybdenum, cobalt, iron, zinc, manganese and boron (Dr Stephanie Seneff at MIT writes and talks a lot about this.) Even people who eat 100% organic have some glyphosate/roundup in their urine. There is no getting away from it — it is ubiquitous in our world. For this reason also, it’s likely that some people are demineralised. This is my rationale behind taking minerals before and after long fasts.

10. Refeeding needs to be carefully considered on a long fast

If you fast for longer than 7-10 days, you do need to be quite careful with breaking your fast and the re-feeding process. On the 20 day fast, my fasting coach recommended no more than 250 calories on the first couple of days, and I also ate quite low carb and low protein, focusing on vegetables and fruit. It took about 8-9 days to return to my usual diet.

If you jump from a long fast straight back into a normal eating pattern, it can cause re-feeding syndrome, which is potentially fatal. Tallis Barker covers this in his book on re-feeding.

11. Drinking less while fasting

I tend to drink 500-750ml of water per day when fasting. Obviously this is a lot less than I drink when I am eating.

The rationale behind drinking less is that you don’t want to wash away electrolytes unnecessarily.

I was taught that a general rule when water fasting is to follow thirst and drink accordingly. If I got thirsty, I drank. But if I wasn’t, I didn’t chug the water down just for the sake of it. As long as I wasn’t drinking less than 500ml per day while fasting, I didn’t worry about it.

12. Finally, you may want to keep your fast quiet (with those who don’t need to know)

I tend not to tell people around me when I’m fasting unless I can help it.

Fasting is quite a counter culture thing to do and people will worry about you, and could even suspect you have an eating disorder. I am someone who loves to eat and I have eaten well and abundantly throughout my life, yet someone in my life who knows this about me still worried on my 12 day fast. The best thing to do is just keep it to yourself wherever possible, so you don’t have to explain yourself.

If you are planning a water fast, I hope this article helps you.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. deb martin

    As for The Law of Assumption: it seems quite simple to me. If you want something, you set your goals and you do the work required to achieve them. You just believe in yourself and go for it! In my current life, and when in my 20’s-40, I thought I lacked self confidence. Yet, somehow I exuded that I had it and “manifested” what ever I desired. I had 4 main goals: a new higher paying job, a new house, car and divorce after 10 years of marriage. Within 3 years I had accomplished all I wanted, yet not in the order I had expected. I just “knew” that I was supposed to and deserved to get those things. Is that like the Law of Assumption? Or just believing in yourself even when you don’t feel like you are!

    • Anna Sayce

      Hi Deb, The LOA is simple in theory – it is “as within, so without”. Whatever you subconsciously believe about the world and yourself is what manifests externally. It’s simple in theory but in practice, I have found it to be quite complex because negative subconscious beliefs can be hard to identify and shift. Since you were able to create those changes, you didn’t have subconscious negative beliefs blocking you and you believed you deserved what you wanted, which is key. Some people don’t believe that and have negative beliefs. When they take action and go after their goals, external events arise to thwart them. It’s a reflection of what is going on inwards. Change yourself, and you change your external world. That’s what Neville Goddard taught!


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