Woman trying to ‘live on light’ instead of food ends experiment


After dropping about 20 percent of her body weight, Naveena Shine, the 65-year-old Eastside woman who got worldwide publicity for trying to just live on light and no food, is calling it quits with her grand experiment.

Monday was Day No. 45 of no food, just water and tea “with a splash of milk.”

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 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.” She says it’d like “giving a loaded shotgun to a baby.”

Shine says she simply wanted to know if “breatharianism,” a New Age belief that sunshine can substitute for food, was possible. She posted about her experiment on Facebook, YouTube and her Living on Light website.

“I didn’t prove it,” she admits. But, says Shine, it certainly got people talking.

Doctors have warned that it is not possible for humans to photosynthesize, and four deaths have been linked to people who apparently had tried.

On previous days, Shine had reported feeling tired or dizzy, had thrown up after drinking water, felt twitches and had cold hands. But on Monday, says Shine, “I’m feeling totally fine.”

In recent days she had begun adding one packet of a vitamin supplement called “Emergen-C” to her water.

Shine had vowed to consider ending her experiment if she dropped to 125 pounds, and said she’d not go below 120 pounds.

Over the weekend, says Shine, she was dancing and even cleaned the small trailer that she rented for her experiment, located in a pastoral countryside setting. Friends would regularly check on her.

Another motivating factor, says Shine, is that she has run out of money.

The British-born Shine, whose original first name was Christine (she legally changed it to “Naveena,” Hindi for “new” in 1987), has led a vagabond life in which she has traveled the world.

Although trained as a teacher, and later earning a degree in psychology, she often worked as a waitress or caregiver wherever she happened to land.

Shine also became a follower of the Indian mystic called Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and later, Osho, who died in 1990. He was the “Rolls-Royce Guru” who owned dozens of the cars and had the controversial and now-disbanded 64,000-acre commune that attracted thousands of followers near the town of Antelope in Central Oregon.

In recent years, Shine lived in a GMC Rally Wagon which she had converted into living quarters.

She says she maxed out her credit cards into buying such equipment as eight security cameras that she had installed in the trailer. She says they recorded her 24/7 to prove she wasn’t cheating on her no-food experiment.

Shine says she had hoped for contributions to help her defray costs, but that she had only received $425 in contributions through her website.

As for her first meal, she says it will consist of lemon juice for vitamin C and a spoonful of maple syrup in warm water for energy.

“I really have to start out slowly,” she says. After that, there’ll be “liquidy kinds of vegetables, like spinach or zucchini sauteed in water.”

In a few weeks, she might go to her favorite restaurant, Anthony’s HomePort in Kirkland, and have some fish.

Eventually, says Shine, she’ll be hitting the road.

She thanks those who were nice to her.

As for those with the vitriol, she says, “The haters, I think when people say something bad about somebody else, they’re really talking about themselves.”