Before coming to Korea, I learned a very important skill: hunger management. Everyone needs to develop this skill. Sometimes, you never know when you will need to skip a meal. You might need to skip a meal to work on a paper due for the next class. You might need to skip a meal to work on a huge project your boss gave you. You never know when you will be in a position or place where food is not available.
Food is fairly accessible and inexpensive in Korea. But I still skip meals from time to time. Sometimes I’m just too lazy to cook or I just want to allot my time elsewhere. Even if I skip a meal, it doesn’t bother me. I would have to thank my Muslim friend for inspiring me to participate in Ramadan.
Before coming to Korea, I fasted for 3 weeks with my Muslim friend this past Ramadan. I did not participate for the entire duration of Ramadan. I had several friends to meet up with before I headed off to Korea and having no lunch severely cuts my potential to meet up with them. Despite my premature completion, the timing for Ramadan was intense. Out of all the cycles, this Ramadan was during the summer. This means that the days had more daylight. That translates to more fasting.
First of all, I am not Muslim. I am not forcing or encouraging you to convert to Islam. I do not associate myself with any religious institution. Because I am not Muslim, I did not follow all the rules of traditional Ramadan.
I didn’t participate in prayer. Instead, I used that time to eat more. I also allowed myself to drink water and take mints throughout daylight. This helped me stay hydrated and kept my breath in check (empty-stomach breath is no joke). These small changes helped a beginner like me, survive through those weeks of Ramadan-like fasting.
The first week is tough because you body isn’t used to it. STICK THROUGH IT. Your body cannot adjust if you cheat yourself.
There are days when hunger hits extra hard. Talking about food or looking at food (anything food) could trigger some hunger. Whenever hunger hit me hard, I would think to myself: “There is some kid out there starving for his/her religion. Can I match his/her resolve?” Or: “Some Muslim athlete is still playing a sport despite the fasting. Can I match his/her resolve?”
I remember talking to another Muslim friend on why the religion incorporates fasting. He believed that willpower gained through hunger management can expand to other parts of your life. I believe it. Purposely resisting the urge to fulfill a basic, human need requires a lot of willpower. That willpower can help to resist human wants. If you spent a month fighting a basic necessity, you can definitely go without a temporal desire.
Now I find it easier to resist itching bug bites! I also believe going through a similar fast would help open your eyes to another culture. You will have a better understanding of how others feel like when they say “fast”.
For this and everything on the internet, please take it with a grain of salt. If you have health issues regarding blood sugar or other dietary problems, please consult with a qualified health professional before any fasting of any kind.