It isn’t easy to dig into ones assumptions about the world – assumptions and judgments that one has learned through life experience (and the rules of education). So, March 1st was the day I re-ignited a personal practice of challenging my thoughts and actions in a mindful way. I wanted to make it my practice for Lent.
Catholic children, at least in my childhood, were required to give something up for Lent. Usually sweeties or some other pleasant pastime or habit. I understand the development of self-sacrifice, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why absence of candy would make me more likely to sacrifice anything!
Considering Lent now, I see it as an opportunity to prepare myself for something in the future. Christ wandered for 40 days in the desert as He prayed to be excused from what He knew to be a certain and painful death. This year I thought, why not consider my future and what I want to create and make of it? Thinking about the future in this way is sufficiently vague, so I amended my question to what do I believe and where does it take me?
In hunting around for something to focus on during Lent, I was struck by how many times I would read quotes and meme’s on the web and on some of the apps on my ‘phone or ‘pad, smile and move on.
Ah ha! Here was something. What if I actually pursued the thought with the question “where does this take me?” In exploring why and how something felt resonant, or in some cases, dissonant I sought to uncover parts of me that I’d been taking for granted.
I chose to challenge what I think I believe in an effort to uncover what I really believe.
When my iphone alarm goes off each day – courtesy of Pzizz, the app I use to lull me to sleep – there is a quote. First thing in the morning isn’t exactly most people’s ideal moment for considering life, the universe and everything, however, I disciplined myself to read and consider the words in front of me.
Easily, on the first few days of this journey, I would sit for a few minutes and think over what I had read, and then I would revert to my usual morning ritual – washing and eating and getting ready for work, focussing outside of my own being.
Around day 5, I noticed something happening. I stopped sitting for a few minutes. I’d sit for 10 and then my morning routine would kick in and I’d find myself still thinking about what I’d read. I tried keeping it in my mind for 15 minutes, to pick around the edges of my thoughts and attitudes about myself and my life.
The practice at this point is almost a month old. I’m enjoying what I read, and I’m enjoying the conversation that I have with myself. Sometimes, I ask a question of the woman I was when I was 30 – to see if how she lived has any relevance to what I read and to me now. Sometimes there’s a connection. Sometimes not.
It’s another 2 or so weeks to the end of Lent. I am curious to know what I finally learn and embody from this experience.