Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Lent and Mindfulness


the beginning of Spring

The beginning of Spring is creeping up on us–in fact, it will be here in just a couple of days (the 20th).  Finally.  Winter is over. 🙂

Arriving around the same time as Spring is Lent, which began on the 9th.  I know the tradition is to give something up for Lent, to sacrifice something.  But how many of us pick something that is an important part of our lives that we enjoy–and, of course, we do view it as a sacrifice.  But once Lent ends, that sacrifice is over.  Honestly, I’ve never really seen the point of that.  Shouldn’t we give something up that we need to give up–and then continue to give it up after Lent ends?

I’m going with a different approach to Lent this year.  This year, I decided to add something into my life, something that will help me become a better person, a healthier person.  I first encountered mindfulness when I was in a DBT program back in 1999.  And I wasn’t exactly receptive to it, to put it politely.  Since then, various people have continued to encourage me to give mindfulness another try.  And I have always brushed those encouragements aside.  But this previous year has shown me one thing: a formal mindfulness practice could be extremely beneficial and helpful in my life.

So I have this book: The Mindfulness Workbook: A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Fear & Embracing Compassion by Thomas Roberts, LCSW, LMFT.  I also have the classic, Wherever You Go, There You Are, on my Kindle, so I can pick it up and read on of its short chapters as I’m waiting in line or in a waiting room or *gasp* even in my own home.  I am committing myself to practicing mindfulness each and every day.  (My therapist is going to be overjoyed that I finally caved.)  I have a journal set aside to record my reflections from each day’s practice.

I have no idea what I’m going to find.  I’m trying not to go into it with too many expectations or requirements.  I’m trying to just let what happens happen.  This is a decidedly difficult stance for me, someone who likes to know exactly what is going to happen when and likes to be in control of that happening whenever possible.  So I’ve decided to slow down and be present in my world, fully present.  Not worrying about what I’m doing in an hour or the next day or the next week.  But right now.  That’s it: this current moment.

Voices inside of me are screaming in protest–that this current moment has nothing to offer, that I’m going to miss things, that I’m not going to be able to do it, that it’s all overrated and over-hyped and isn’t worth my effort.  But I think of the people I know who do practice mindfulness and they are people I admire for various reasons.  I know their lives aren’t perfect, but I respect how they handle what comes their way.  They don’t carry around a huge sign that proclaims, “I AM AT PEACE!” but if I’m honest, it’s quite obvious they experience more peace than I do, and it’s certainly not because their lives are “easier” or “less complicated” or “less busy” than mine.  Usually they have fairly busy lives that are anything but “easy” or “uncomplicated.”

My goal for all of this?  To learn how to be present in the current moment, unencumbered by my worries about what I’m doing in an hour or in a week or in a month.  To accept Right Now with acceptance, patience, and perseverance.  What will I find?  I have no idea.  And part of me is saying that setting goals of what I want to find kind of goes against the whole idea of mindfulness and accepting what is.  My only concrete goal for this is to develop a habit that I can continue long past this season of Lent.

Some people have asked what mindfulness, an Eastern philosophy, has to do with Lent.  You know what?  I have no idea, and I don’t really care.  I have no problems adding something of another philosophy into my daily life as long as it continues to bring me closer to God.  And I truly believe that learning how to be present in the current moment will help me be present with God.  Why?  Where else is God but the here and now?

I realize I have an eclectic faith: I read my Bible and I use a devotional every evening, I’ve studied yoga since I was 18 and taught yoga for a number of those years, and now I’m adding in mindfulness to the mix.  It fits me. And if you don’t find a faith practice that fits you, how do expect to strengthen your own personal faith?

So here’s to the present moment.  I have no idea what I’m going to find.  A deeper understanding of myself?  A deeper understanding of God?  Of my faith?  Of the world around me?  All of these things?

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March 17, 2011 - Posted by | faith, health, identity, mindfulness | , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Hi, this is wonderful … My confessor many years ago taught me to take up caring for myself and be liberated by lent. I’m still working in this. I’m grappling with forgiveness this lent: forgiving my abusers and forgiving myself. Grappling!!!!!!
    You ask what an easten philosophy of Mindfulness has to do with Lent – EVERYTHING. Jesus died on the cross so we could and can be forgiven so this means that we are free to move on (not condone necessarily) but move on to live in the now.
    Wishing you blessings this lent … I hope you find time to be at peace xxxRxxx

    Comment by Ruth | March 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. Mindfulness has everything to do with Lent! Lent is a time to examine our lives and stop some of the zombie in us. A small sacrifice like not drinking morning coffee will make me stop and think. When I actually stop and think about what I am doing NOW, in the moment, I can actually be present to the present.
    Mindfulness seems to have an important place in all religions.

    Comment by joan | March 17, 2011 | Reply


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