Don't eat it; it's good for you.

Hindus do it. Jews do it. Christians do it. New Age spiritual seekers do it. Even political protesters do it. Here's why you and I should do it. We should fast.

As a spiritual practice, fasting is considered an intensification of prayer - a way of manifesting our total sincerity. This search for sincerity shows up in the way we our language habit uses eating as a proof of our attachment to something: "I'd sooner (fill in the blank) than eat." Whatever is more important to you than eating is central to your life.

But fasting also has another spiritual leverage. Fasting makes us feel more acutely whatever it is we are feeling. If I'm lonely and hungry, I feel worse than if I'm just hungry. If I'm tired and hungry, angry and hungry, discouraged and hungry, the hunger makes it worse.

Now, an Enneagram style is a trance, a kind of blindness. We are all conditioned not to see. We have a lot of strategies that enable us to focus on some things and exclude others. So, when we fast, we feel the things we have not wanted to feel. You hear Catholics during Lent say "I hate fasting; it makes me irritable." "No, friend, it makes you aware that you have been irritable all along. The rest of us already knew that."

The opposite of fasting to increase our emotional awareness and spiritual sincerity is eating not to be aware, not to feel. If I'm discouraged and I go eat, I'll feel less discouraged. Mothers everywhere know that. "Here, have some milk and cookies, you'll feel better." This sinister solicitude allows you to feel better without doing anything about what you're feeling bad about. Eating is a short-circuit to contentment. Such a deal.

So when we eat to feel better, we eat, in effect, not to feel. We eat to blunt our emotions, alleviate our passions and to avoid our impulses to do something about what's wrong. We eat not to notice what's eating us.

So eating not to be aware, eating not to feel, eating not to think acutely, ends up keeping us in the trance we call our Enneagram style. When we eat more than we need, we eat to support and intensify our Enneagram trance.

So if you want to be a little clearer about how your Enneagram trance plays out in your life, just fast for a day. You'll see what you've been missing. You won't like it, but that's never part of the promise of fasting.