The Mardi Gras party is over: Lent, our annual opportunity to focus on simplicity and purification of our bodies and souls, has come. Whether or not you are a Christian, Lent provide a time to focus on simplicity – the quality of being plain, austere, lacking adornment, and sparseness – a time of clarity, tranquility, uncomplicated, natural living – time to reduce complications, to abstain and purify, to regain our balance and direction – of recommitting to our principles, our internal compass.
Long before Jesus simplicity was recognized as a key to well-being:
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.–Lao Tzu
It still is!
Is fasting for you? Whether or not your spiritual beliefs encourage fasting – in my mind defined as purposeful periods of abstinence to simplify and/or purify – I encourage you to know that there are many different ways to abstain, as well as pros and cons to fasting. Beware that health and/or medical reason many of us need to be careful about abstaining from good nutrition.
- Different types of fasts
- Pros and Cons of Fasting (Abstinence of food): Why fasting is not for everyone
For the last 30 years I have made purposeful sacrifices for the 40 days of lent. Some years is abstinence from alcohol, sweets, or both. Some years it’s been weekly or daily spiritual sessions: One year I attended Mass every day even though I am not Catholic. Some years it’s been retreats. The year I tried a three day fast was an epic fail that lead to weeks of illness.
What would happen if I hadn’t had Lenten focuses (and gotten too caught up in “keeping up with the Jones’)?
- I wouldn’t have as much faith in my Lord, my purpose and myself. I would be less confident & less spiritual.
- I would be broke, in-debt, and unhappy
- I would be unhealthy, over stressed and perpetually out of balance
- I would not feel that I deserve Easter.
What I continue to to do (and why): It’s not just about 40 days of lent – but loving living lean
- Daily: Simplify (my focus on purpose (what’s really important and principles vs. material things), make time (now 3x a day) or mini-retreats/meditations/thankfulness
- Periodically: Set boundaries on purchases, not-so healthy foods, unnecessary adornment and materialism) and exposure negativity of our world (to stay focus on my big-picture of what’s important: Lighten my load to overcome “little stress”)
- Quarterly “vegetable-based” liquid cleanses with liquid protein (to detoxify)
- Annual Lenten abstinence (sacrifice, build integrity)
What I DON’T do and why
- Longer than 18 hour fasts (Can’t think as well as I need to: compromises my immune system, never have the time to do a longer period of abstinence well: I’d have to give up vacation time)
- Greater abstinence: Has not yet been required of me by my Lord or perceived as needed.
Remember: no matter whatever you sacrifice do it purposely (for a clear reason), do it well (commit 100%), and make it meaningful to your personal and spiritual growth (not just what others say is needed or what they are doing because it’s a fad for expected).
What will you do during Lent (to simplify) and why?