Within the Christian calendar Lent is traditionally a time of fasting and self-reflection. How many of us remember giving up chocolate or coffee or something else that gives us pleasure. While this is not a bad spiritual practice in itself, in recent years I have begun to understand Lent as a time of value-adding to my spiritual practices. In the days leading up to Easter I encourage you to try something new, with the potential to add it to your daily, weekly or monthly practice.
Examples might be:
Spend some time alone.
It is very easy to fill our lives with business, always seeking to do, to be somewhere, to watch something. We often fill our lives to avoid going deeper. Spiritually speaking it is those moments of stepping past the uncomfortableness of silence is when we start to understand who we really are.
Simply by stopping once, twice or three times a day and listening to our breath…..in…….out for three to five to tenminutes each time if your mind takes you back to the shopping list, go back to your breath.
Joining a meditation group.
There are a many types of meditation groups meeting regularly. it is a powerful practice to meet regularly with a group of meditators. Meditation groups can be faith based (i.e. Christian Meditation Network of Australia) or secular in nature.
Beginning an art or written journal.
Begin by purchasing a cheap non lined art journal and some coloured pencils, felt tipped pens etc.
Take a few moments to breathe and focus. Write for 5-10 minutes whatever pops into your mind or write about the previous day’s events. Begin by asking the question:
“What did I notice?”
You might like to draw something the represents the day or what is on your mind.
Read a passage of sacred text each day
Give yourself some time to read a poem, or a passage from a faith traditions sacred text. Look for some key words or phrases that you can carry around with you during the day.
Move your body
Put on some music and move your hands to the music, play with fast and jerky or slow and smooth, or find some stillness. Move with the beat or against the beat. If the rest of your body wants to move let it. The idea is to release tension and increase your mind, body, spirit connection. Record your experience in your journal.
These practices may seem scary, weird or very odd, they may take you out of your comfort zone, and it is in this realm of playing with different practices that spiritual growth occurs.
And my own new spiritual practice this Lent….exploring the world through contemplative photography.