The process of denial—traditionally self-denial—of something we usually do not deny ourselves. This denial may have purposes of healing or expiation of things we perceive as “sins,” but is often used in preparation for some sort of ritual. Although this may be viewed as a type of purification, some people believe that by denying oneself those things that usually take up our focus or attention, we can turn our focus to the purpose of the upcoming ritual. The most common denials are in the form of food or drink. There are also fasts that deny such things as communication with others, sexual activity, etc. In some traditions, fasting is only partial abstention. In others, there are limitations on fasting based upon one’s health. Fasting also gives an external impetus for self-control, allowing a person to see that he or she can have power over various desires, needs, or urges.
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