Morning Fasting: An Act of Awakening to Creativity and Receptiveness
Fasting has long been considered a spiritual discipline, but its relevance in the modern context takes on a new dimension. Beyond the demonstrated health benefits it provides, I also use this practice to awaken my eye and my mind to photographic creativity. An artistic act that is supported by scientific evidence. Explanations.
For more than a decade now, I have been practicing what is today commonly referred to as intermittent fasting. At that time, this practice of not rushing to breakfast immediately upon waking was not yet labeled. I wasn’t even aware that it could represent a form of diet that the media would go crazy about a few years later.
Taking advantage of these hours of morning well-being to be productive has always brought me increasing satisfaction, both personally and creatively. So here is a little philosophical reflection on the subject.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, walking for me is a means of connecting with the natural environment that is particularly useful in photography. It is often accompanied by personal and productive reflection on my work. And I must note that the so-called "fasting" state allows me to ensure not only a morning sports training but also a different kind of intellectual work than when I work after a first meal.
Also, in recent years, I have taken an interest in scientific studies that allow us to understand this fact and see to what extent this feeling of mental availability is indeed real. Trying also to understand what are the mechanisms of the body and mind that are set in motion during a morning fast and promote, as far as I am concerned, creativity.
My equipment: URTH. High-quality filters for landscape photography.
In this article, I revisit the data that particularly caught my attention. Of course, these are far from the only pieces of information that support the sense of well-being felt when the body is in a state of fasting. Hundreds of studies obviously exist on this subject. They generally aim to promote the well-known benefits that fasting techniques have on health.
Other studies attempt to explain why ancient civilizations, mainly Asian ones such as India and China, have incorporated these fundamental values of fasting into their traditional medicine for centuries. But here I wish to limit myself to the strict scientific or philosophical data that apply in the context of artistic production in photography.
Library: The Science of Nutrition.
Therefore, I will not go back over the technical or practical aspects in response to questions from those who think that fasting is not possible for them, that it's too difficult, that they are starving when they wake up, etc. All these unfounded notions generally arise from a misunderstanding of things, confusions, or an arbitrary interpretation based on a scholastic approach, a reminiscence of the past. These considerations will find answers in the numerous reference books (like the one mentioned above) or in YouTube videos that address this topic.
For me, morning fasting is not a voluntary deprivation that one tries to prolong as much as possible under duress. It's an act of mental and physical awakening that opens unexpected doors to well-being, attentiveness, and the creative potential of each individual.
Here are some interesting pieces of information drawn from the scientific literature that confirm this personal feeling of creative and intellectual productivity in artistic photography or in everyday life.
Inner Silence, Outer Clarity
Scientific research indicates that intermittent fasting improves brain function by increasing the production of proteins related to neurogenesis, such as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF plays a crucial role in brain plasticity, memory, and learning.
This induced mental clarity allows us to fully engage our senses in the creative act. It seems that the very nature of fasting creates a kind of inner silence that resonates in the clarity of our perception of the world and the images produced by our brain. By extension, creativity and inspiration in photography can be perfectly explained, among other things, by these biological concepts.
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A Mirror of Natural Symmetry
Fasting also influences homeostasis, or the internal balance of the body. This process regulates everything from blood sugar levels to blood pressure. This physiological regulation can be likened to the search for symmetry and balance in our lives and by analogy in our photographs. It's as if the state of fasting prepares us to recognize and capture the inherent harmony in nature in the scenes we photograph.
Emptiness as a Canvas for Creation
In a state of fasting, there is also a notable reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress in cells. This seems to have a positive effect on mood and general well-being, according to a study published in "Nature Communications". This psychological well-being can be considered as a backdrop that allows us to create without hindrance, where the internal emptiness - understood here as the absence of food in the body - becomes an opportunity rather than an obstacle or a lack of creativity.
Reflection and Fasting: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Fasting induces changes in energy metabolism that are beneficial for the brain. For example, it leads to an increase in the production of ketone bodies, which are an efficient source of energy for the brain and can improve cognitive function. This is something that followers of the ketogenic diet often like to remind people of.
A study from the "Journal of Applied Physiology" suggests that caloric restriction improves cognition and results in an enhanced capacity for mental reflection. This can be beneficial for analyzing a landscape, a scene, or a subject before photographing. It also facilitates deep meditation on the subject to be captured. I personally find that these moments of reflection, while in a state of caloric restriction, not only enrich my images but add a layer of depth to my creative process.
These scientific and factual data highlight the power of morning fasting as a ritual of awakening. It remains today a discipline that informs and enriches my photographic practice for many years. It is an ally in the perpetual quest for minimalism, silence, and clarity.
The quest for the essential, whether in the photographic art or in life, is enhanced by practices as varied as morning fasting or meditation. These two acts, seemingly simple, carry complexities that resonate in both physiological and metaphysical realms. Fasting is not merely an abstinence from food; it is, in my view, an intimate space for renewal and mental clarity.
Similarly, minimalist photography is not a reduction of the world but an invitation to see its quintessence. Both remind us that in silence, emptiness, and simplicity often reside the answers to the most complex questions.
This inner silence cultivated by morning fasting becomes the foundation upon which the external clarity of art rests. It transforms each captured shot and each intense moment in the life of the photographer into a deeply meditative and revealing act.
Luminar Neo: Artificial Intelligence at the Service of Commercial Imaging.
- Mattson MP, Wan R. "Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems." The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2005.
- Longo, Valter D., and Mark P. Mattson. "Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications." Cell metabolism, 2014.
- Cheng, Chia-Wei, et al. "Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression." Nature communications, 2014.
- Witte, A. V., Fobker, M., Gellner, R., Knecht, S., & Flöel, A. (2009). "Caloric restriction improves memory in elderly humans." Journal of Applied Physiology.
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