Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent 2013

As most of my regular readers know, every year I commit to the Lent period of fasting and contemplative practice.

Lent is a Christian period of fasting lasting (generally; there is some variation between denominations) between Ash Wednesday (in 2013 this is the 13th February) through to 'Holy Thursday' (also known as 'Maundy Thursday') - the Thursday before Easter.

Because of this and my use of other religious devices such as prayer and observances like the sabbath, I often get the question: "So Cliff are you religious?" to which I generally reply "Yes"....
And of course this invites the followup "So what religion are you?" which is much harder to answer. 

I consider myself, if I had to put a frame around it, to be a universalist and a mystic. In other words I consider that there is a universal kernel of truth within all the major religions and that kernel of truth is that we are all connected, and that there is a divine force or energy which we could call Allah, Jehovah, God or simply LOVE, and I'm a mystic in that I believe the only way to ultimately realise this is through direct connection to this source.

Anyway...back to Lent...

Any period of fasting or abstinence allows us to realise what we have become attached to, and in doing so we can recognise how our vices, or even simple patterns of behaviour, may be controlling us and affecting the way we act, and the way that we are
The act of fasting can also show how little we actually do need in order to be happy, and how living with less can actually free us from our drive to possess and consume more and more.
And this is the main reason that I do Lent every year, in order to recognise patterns of behaviour and attachment.

Traditionally Lent involved a commitment to 3 practices:
1. Prayer
2. Fasting
3. Alms giving

The fasting or abstinence aspect of Lent is what most people nowadays associate with the period.

In many traditions this was very strict, and involved variations of abstinence from meat, dairy and eggs and in many cases alcohol, although in most cases these were allowed on a Sunday. In modern times, particularly in Protestant circles Lent has become a time in which to give up any vice or a luxury.
Either approach can hold a lot of value in our process of greater self-realisation and growth.

This year my Lent challenge will involve:

Fasting
Eating 1 simple vegetable based meal per day in the evening
Completely abstaining from: Alcohol, coffee, sugar, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes (whole), and dairy.
This year differs from previous years in a diet sense because of a few health challenges I had last year. I will go into that in a later post...because there is going to be some cool self-experimentation going on this year!

Meditation/Contemplative Work:
As I currently do daily yoga and meditation/prayer currently I am going to step this up to meditation and prayer 3 x er day, in the morning, at midday and at night. 

Almsgiving:
Donating 10% of any income derived from this time frame to charity, either in cash or as services in kind.

Join me in the challenge!
Comment here or at my FaceBook Page and let me know what you are giving up...or if you'd like to join me in the challenge above!

~ Blessings,
Cliff