Abstaining on a temporary basis can help with spiritual growth, but abstinence can also be used to feed the ego’s needs, as when abstaining becomes a part of one’s identity or become the basis for judging others.
Here are some things, in no particular order, that one can abstain from when seeking spiritual growth:
The result of abstinence can be increased appreciation, clarity, gratitude, better relationships, kindness, self-control, love, balance, health, softness, and more.
Abstinence is an act of letting go and of making room. By clearing out what is less desirable, we make room for what is more desirable.
When abstinence is used as a “this for that,” it should not be done. Abstinence should be approached with humility and for the purpose of personal growth, learning and listening. It should not be done in dangerous ways. For instance, an individual decided to fast from all food for forty days. During that time, he grew weaker and began to lose his memory. The purpose of his fast, whatever it was, was demonstrated to be lacking a soundness of mind.
Undertake temporary abstinence after careful consideration. Approach the idea with moderation and balance. Do no harm (to yourself or others) when deciding what to abstain from or how to accomplish your goals.
Above all, when your period of abstinence is complete, spend time reflecting on what lessons the experience offered. By letting go, what had room to enter your life? In what ways have you changed? What did you learn by abstaining?