She Needs Food After All

A woman in Seattle who believes she can live on air, sunlight, and water has decided that she should eat food after all, and has stopped her social and spiritual “experiment.”

According to a story on Fox News, “Navenna Shine, the founder and subject of the Living on Light experiment, plans to spend the next four to six months abstaining from food of any kind and living on only light, water and tea. According to her website, Shine started the experiment in an attempt to follow a group of obscure Yogis, who for thousands of years have claimed the ability to live on light.”

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The claimed ability to survive without food (and sometimes without water as well) is called inedia, and those who attempt it are called “inediates” (among other things). One common version of inedia includes a belief called breatharianism, which teaches that humans can be trained to survive just on water and sunlight.

Shine turned her experimental flirtation with starvation into something of a social media event, filming herself on web cams and creating a Facebook page so supporters (and detractors) can follow along. She seems sincere in her effort, blogging about her symptoms including nausea, her conversations with God, and the messages she receives from the universe as her body fights off delirium.

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Though the experiment was planned to last four to six months, she ends her fast tomorrow. According to The Seattle Times:

“Shine had dropped to 126 pounds from her original weight of 159 pounds on her 5-foot, 4-inch frame. She says she’s quitting on Wednesday in part because she’s run out of money, and in part because of the public reaction. “I was just asking a question, but there was just so much negative response that that means the question can’t even be asked,” she said. She also says that she didn’t want to be responsible for others trying “Living on Light” without having their “belief systems lined up.”

Shine seemed surprised and dismayed at the public reaction to her fasting experiment, framing it as a matter of striking a nerve of social and cultural taboos. The issue is not, as she put it, about anger over her exploration of alternative spiritualities nor asking “questions can’t even be asked,” but instead the humanitarian concern that she might starve to death during her misguided quest.

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Still, the way in which she is ending her potentially fatal fasting leaves some concerns. Shine is not stopping because she has changed her mind about the fact that people need to eat — indeed she remains convinced that it is possible, just not under the scrutiny of the world (and, oddly, with more money).

By suggesting that ending the experiment is an altruistic public service or due to circumstances beyond her control, Shine is able to save face and keep her beliefs intact. But even a little shame is better than the alternative.

Photo: Naveena Shine Credit: Facebook


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