Lent begins February 14. Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is considered a spiritually sacred time and an opportunity for changing a habit. Lent can be a life-changing experience. Each Lent, our family met on Ash Wednesday to choose what we were going to practice for the 40 days of Lent. As a child, I gave up candy for Lent each year. As an adult each Lent I attempted to stop cursing, eating sweets or to end other of my life challenges and temptations. I usually go back to my bad habit eventually but at least this gave me an opportunity to practice discipline and mindfulness. As a child, it made Easter extra special when I put my hands on that Easter basket. Later in life, after my 40 days of practicing something new, I felt a little better standing in line at the Easter Buffet.
I invite you to create this family ritual with your family. Lent does not have to be limited by a religion but can be about taking 40 days out of your busy overbooked life to focus on something you want to change or create.
Each of us is called during this season to enter into our own wilderness. Reflect on the choices you have made in life and the ones you are making now. Are your choices leading you to your calling, your joy, your authentic life or are they leading you further away from happiness?
Practices Your Family May Choose for 40 Days
Sleep. Choose a time you will be in bed each night and be there. Put a book by your bed or listen to a guided imagery download. Both of these will create peace and health in your mind, body, and soul. After 40 days you will wonder why you ever stayed up to watch the late shows. Remember you can always tape them and watch them in the early evening.
Food. Choose to eat mindfully and include more fruit or vegetables in your meals. Add one fruit and one vegetable a day for the 40 days. Reduce your meat intake during this special time. Explore meatless products and fish options during these 40 days. Take a minute to look at your plate and give respect and gratitude for your food. This practice will create health and after 40 days the way you experience food will change.
Family gathering night. One night a week gather the family to play a game, paint, do a puzzle or read a story and discuss what it means to each of you. This will imprint precious memories on your entire family.
Organize. Each day discover new ways to organize your life. Go to the grocery store once a week with a complete list. Set a timer one hour before you leave work so you can clean off your desk. Organize a drawer or closet each week and see how great you feel.
Move your body. Each day find some small way to get your body moving. Do Zumba dancing one day, yoga the next, tai chi the next, a walk the next and so on. Be creative on how you move your body. After 40 days you will feel like a new person.
Technology shut down. Each day make a commitment to stop using the Internet, Facebook or emails for an hour each day. Take this time to nourish yourself and your family. You will learn to listen to your inner voice and be a better present listener to others. What a gift!
Read. Reading reduces stress and nourishes your body, mind, and soul. Read for at least 30 minutes a day for the next 40 days. Learn about an inspirational person who has changed our world, read a powerful novel or travel to distant land and visit cultures through reading.