For many, Lent is a time to give up something for the purpose of honoring the 40 days Jesus was said to walk through the desert, lured by the devil on many occasions. Christian or otherwise, Lent can be observed by anyone wanting to experience discipline, inner strength and conviction. Whether it is a vice we’ve been battling with, an addiction we need to curb, or simply the wish to deny ourselves our favorite luxury, the essence is in finding the devotion and dedication to let go of the inner demon of temptation.
Forty days is a long time to live without something you’ve been used to doing or having. Some of us make it easy on ourselves, while others will go all out in an effort to really challenge themselves. I have heard vegetarians say they are going to give up meat for Lent, and just recently my father told me he was going to give up listening to his Wayne Newton albums. Both are absurd, the prior for obvious reasons, and for those of you who don’t know my dad, he is definitely not a fan of Wayne Newton.
But for those of you who are actually going to give up something that will make you squirm, cringe, and want to renounce your devotion, the following meditation will help you stay the course.
Sit in a comfortable position free from external distractions such as the television, computer or your radio. Spend a moment observing your breath. Notice the pace, depth and quality of your breath. Begin to slowly lengthen and deepen your breath so that it falls into a gentle and relaxed rhythmic pace.
Next, bring your awareness to all of the sensations in your body. Sensations can be physical or energetic and can be a result of emotions and thoughts. Pay attention to your feelings without judgment or the need to change anything about what you feel.
The biggest challenge is to be patient. The world around us may whirl by, but that doesn’t mean we cannot slow down every once in a while. Give yourself permission to just sit and be, exactly as you are. The less you fight against your feelings, the less influence they will have on your decisions or temptations.
Imagine you are taking the long and arduous journey through a desert-like mine field of persuasion. Let your faith (in anything) help you gather endless strength so that you resist the temptation to give up. Be tough and stay present. Believe that soon you will wake up to a brighter, clearer, refreshing new you.