Living without food or water may sound absurd to some people, but for a group known as breatharians, this is how they attempt to exist. They believe everything a human body needs to survive is contained in the energy that surrounds it, and largely abstain from food and sometimes liquids. But breatharianism is not a diet, though it has been used as a weight loss technique. To its followers, breatharianism is a way of life.
There are probably many things you didn't know about breatharianism - like, for instance, that the idea is also known as "inedia," from the Latin for "fasting." It's worth noting that fasting is a component of many different religions. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism, among others, all support specialized diets and periods of abstaining from food. However, not eating to support a belief in breatharianism is a fast without an end in sight.
Learning facts about breatharianism can also expose its dark side. Many people compare its teachings to that of a cult. And breatharians can suffer physical as well as mental harm - there are dangerous consequences to not eating.
The Sanskrit word prana translates to "life air" or "life force," and that's what breatharians believe will give them sustenance. Prana is defined as an energy that runs through, and connects all of, creation.
Breatharianism was founded on the belief that this energy is all the human body needs to survive, not food or drink. Followers claim that, if they are conscious of doing so, they can inhale prana through breath and sunlight.
Actress Michelle Pfeiffer revealed she had been a breatharian in her younger years, and referred to the group as a cult. She claimed the group had been very controlling and strict, and had demanded frequent payments for their time.
Pfeiffer said she was saved by her now ex-husband, Peter Horton. He was researching Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church for a new film at the time. Upon hearing him talk about the group, Pfeiffer realized that she had gotten caught up in a cult as well.
Perhaps the most famous champion of breatharianism is Jasmuheen, formerly known as Ellen Greve. She once claimed to have not eaten since 1993, but later admitted to eating occasionally, saying, "I will have a mouthful of whatever it is I'm wanting the flavor of." Several interviewers visiting her home also noticed food in her kitchen, but she claimed it was for her husband.
Jasmuheen runs the Cosmic Internet Academy, travels all over the world giving lectures, and offers expensive retreats. She was given the Bent Spoon Award by the Australian Skeptics, an honor bestowed on those believed to have made "outrageous" psychic or paranormal claims.
According to Jasmuheen, the first step to becoming a breatharian is to become a vegetarian. Next, you should eliminate dairy and eggs, becoming a vegan. Then, you should adopt a raw food diet, followed by a fruit-only diet, then a liquid-only diet, and finally, prana.