This part is the most straight-forward. Frankly, it’s about committing to taking better care of my body. As most of you know, I did a Whole30 last year and felt great after it! But like many others, I gradually let all those inflammatory foods back into my diet. I have found the biggest culprits for me to be wheat and sugar. So that’s what I’ll be giving up for lent! This post on the ‘9 Rules of Lent Every Irish Person Knows’ had me in stitches this morning and I particularly liked the Bruce Bogtrotter reference! Worth checking out if you’ve just committed to giving up chocolate!
I think I was a much kinder person as a kid! My instinct was usually to share, help others and see the best in situations. I know I’m not a total tyrant now but I definitely feel a lot more sceptical and selfish these days. Personally, I think the way to combat this is to retrain your brain. The recent trend of RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) nominations in response to the NEKs reminded me that society can be pretty awesome. It was great to see my news feed filled with joy and positivity for a few weeks, rather than the usual stream of bad news and negativity that often plagues our daily reading. So, I plan to do 40 acts of kindness, one for each day of Lent, in the hope that it will retrain my brain towards instinctive kindness! They say it takes 30 days to kick a bad habit and replace it with better habits so I should flying after 40!
This was the trickiest bit for me to figure out. I wanted to do something that I could stay consistent in for 40 days, but that would also challenge my beliefs and allow me space to grow. So, I have decided to do a daily meditation. As a child, my nana used to say our bedtime prayers with us. Anyone who has an Irish granny will know them… ‘Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Bless the bed that I lay on…’ To this day I still say my ‘prayers’ at night before going asleep. Though, they’re not quite as formal. More a rundown of my worries and concerns, than anything else! It’s the old adage that people only pray when they want something! As a Quaker, I am pretty comfortable with silence, though in recent years, I have found I don’t use the silence as best I could. I have used meditation in the past to help me centre down at the beginning of Meeting for Worship or before bed but I have not practiced on a regular enough basis to truly benefit from it. So I’ll be tuning out every day for 15 minutes, to reflect, give thanks and listen.
I’ll be using two primary tools to help me on my journey! The first is the Christian Aid Count Your Blessings App. I think this is pretty awesome! They are a fantastic organisation working with partners on the ground to provide urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root causes. The app provides food for thought and a stunning photo each day giving you opportunities to act, donate and learn about the issues affecting our world. Today’s story is about the impact of Climate Change.
The second tool I’ll be using is the Meditation Bible! This baby is packed with guided meditations for all scenarios. Some simply help you focus, others help you explore specific aspects of your spirituality. This book would be too ‘Hippy’ for some people but I like it. It’s broad enough that you can choose to put your own beliefs into the meditations.
What you can expect from upcoming posts
I hope to do a mixture of posts on the three aspects of my Lent project. There will of course be some tasty recipes! I’ll also post a few guided meditations and tips on how to integrate meditation into your daily routine. While I won’t post about each of my 40 RAKs (you’ll just have to trust me!), I will be on the look-out for stories which inspire gratitude and hope. If any of you have any Lent stories of your own, I would love to hear from you.
A note on the Spiritual aspect of this project
I want this project to be accessible to all those interested. For that reason, I will try to make my posts as non-denominational as possible. In saying that, I am a Quaker! Inevitably, I will use language that reflects that. In these cases, I urge you to take what you can from my posts and choose to assign your own language to it. For example, the phrase ‘Inner Light’ is often used by Quakers to describe that of God in a person. If it sits better with you to use words or phrases like ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘the sacred part of a person’ or whatever else you can think of, please do. My aim here is not to promote a particular way of thinking, but to share my journey and track my growth over the next 40 days.
If you like the sound of this project or haven’t quite decided what you’re doing for Lent, why not create your own Lent project. Pick a way to take care of your body, something that will help expand and challenge your mind and, something that will help nurture your soul. It is completely adaptable to your individual preferences and journey. Some people will find attending mass or prayer meetings helpful. Others will flourish in a regular yoga practice or find peace walking through the woods. Whatever you decide, push your boundaries a little and watch what happens when you allow yourself time to reflect and grow.