Holy moly - how on planet earth has it been a month since I've written? I have no other excuse to offer but that most ubiquitous and obnoxious of NYC reasons - I've been crazybusy. (Is that exclusive to NYC or does pretty much everyone everywhere blame things on that?)
I want to just write a brief entry - sort of about Lent, and sort of not. I'm not Catholic, or even Christian, but I'm a sucker for anything resembling a resolution, or a finite amount of time in which to try something, give something up, or better yourself. I certainly don't want to offend anyone who is devout and takes their practice seriously - I am not trying to trivialize your religious practice by any means, merely taking inspiration from it as I go on my own continuing journey.
A few years ago, I started my year off - literally starting January 1st - with a 40-day meditation with my mala beads, chanting the same thing each and every day. It was pretty fabulous and grounding and I learned a lot. It wasn't related to Lent, I just wanted to give the practice a go.
I typically don't do anything for Lent (again - not Catholic), but I do remember when I was interning in Sarasota, over 6 years ago now, that I decided to add something to my life for 40 days instead of the traditional practice of giving something up. I added what I called a "devotional practice." Every morning for a minimum of 20 minutes, I'd meditate and then do at least one other thing - either practice yoga, write, or go for a run. It was really phenomenal, and if memory serves I think I managed to make it happen every single day.
This year, I have one thing I want to add and one thing I want to give up - sort of in line with my Inward/Onward theme of this year.
Inward - Adding:
-Devotional practice, just like back in good ol' Sarasota. Minimum 20 minutes every day. Meditation is mandatory! Adding along writing, yoga, or my (also mandatory) physical therapy exercises. Eventually I'm hoping I can add running to the list!
Onward - Subtracting:
-Complaining! Not necessarily being a robot who never utters a declarative sentence stating unpleasant things ("It is -10 degrees out today.") or a holier-than-thou beatific martyr, but I don't want to get caught in the very easy cycle of whining, continually directing my energy toward negativity, and most importantly, having the complaining ease myself into a pattern of worrying. I am a mega-worrier, and I think there's a big link between that and complaining.
The "no complaining" thing has been on my mind for a long time, and it reminded me a little bit of this article, which wasn't focused on complaining or general negativity so much as it was more about gossip or unkind words. Also a valuable thing to examine further in your own life and habits!
For my perspective, not being tied into the dogma of religion, the 40 days is a bit of a trivial number for me. There are experts who say it takes 21 or 28 or 100 days to build a habit, and plenty who throw 40 around as being significant either because of the religious/historical significance it holds or because a research study suggested people kept good habits after that amount of time.
Regardless of the length of time or the reason, I'm always in favor of a little more self-study (svadhyaya in yoga-speak) and self-improvement. Whether you're observing Lent or not, I hope the next 40 days are good ones...and the best part is, by the time it's done, we'll finally be seeing the glorious light of SPRING!
Not that I'm complaining about the winter. But...it is very cold outside.