I just adore this picture of the sun streaming in the window and on to my kitchen table. I was sitting here earlier having a cup of tea when I got inspiration for today's post. Of course, after Pancake Tuesday comes Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. For the forty days of Lent, many Christians practice fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter. For many Lent isn't so much about the religious aspect, but rather it is an opportunity for them to give up something that they normally do, in the hope they will benefit from this absintence. When I was a child, the thing to do was to give up sweets. Of course, I should have known I would go on to become a lawyer as even at the age of seven I was well able to give 'sweets' a narrow definition and limit it to "jelly like or sugar coated treats, excluding all biscuits, chocolates, ice-cream and cakes". Despite this narrow definition, I still broke my Lenten promises too many times to count.
I don't usually abstain from doing something for Lent, instead opting to actively do something that I don't normally do. This year that is to practice meditation for 30 minutes each day. I had been doing this nearly everyday, but have completely fallen into a rut, so Lent is the perfect opportuity for me to get back on the meditation wagon.
If like me, you aren't really that enamoured with giving something up, how about trying one of these alternative Lenten resolutions instead:
1. Add a green salad to your lunch or dinner for the next 40 days.
As most Honest Project readers know, I am a big fan of leafy greens. I try to eat raw leafy greens such as spinach and kale every day. I usually do this by having a green vegetable juice or smoothie. If you aren't into vegetable juices and smoothies, get your leafy green fix by eating a side salad of greens with your lunch or dinner each day. For example, buy a bag of baby spinach. As soon as you get home, wash and dry the spinach leaves. Store them in a ziplock bag in your fridge. Each time you prepare dinner, put a large handful of spinach leaves in a bowl and dress them with a little olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Eat this along with whatever lunch or dinner you are having. This is a simple and hassle free addition to your diet and one that will provide you with the abundance of raw vitamins, minerals and enzymes that leafy greens contain.
2. Resolve to meditate for at least 10 minutes a day.
Meditation is a wonderful way to bring calmness and stillness to our minds. My favourite meditation at the moment is from a book called "Miracles Now" by Gabrielle Bernstein. THis meditation is quite easy for beginners to practice and starts with sitting in easy pose. Easy pose is the basic yoga pose and is sometimes called cross legged pose. Sit on the floor crossed legged, keeping your spine straight. Then take your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale deeply and slowly thought your left nostril and exhale slowly through your mouth. Just keep doing this for 10 minutes. If ten minutes is too long, start with five and work your way up to ten. Throughtout the meditation concentrate on your breath. To finish the meditation, take a deep breath, interlace your finders and stretch them up over your head, palms towards the ceiling. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds and then release your breath and your hands. It's that simple. I find this mediation so effective for clearing my mind. A little tip for timing is to use the stop watch on your phone as it will bing when you are finished. This means you don't have to interrupt your practice to check if the ten minutes is up.
3. "Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate".
This is a quote from a blogger called Jordan Bach which I also read in the book Miracles Now. I think this is amazing advice, especially in this era of social media. It is definitely a practice that I am trying to incorporate into my personal and online interactions. I spend alot of time on social media as a result of the Honest Project and at times, I get quite disilliousoned by things I read. In particular, Twitter is awash with negative tweets aimed at people who have contrary view points to others. I am all for constructive criticism, but very often tweets aren't constructive at all and are more along the lines of rants or even online abuse. This piece of advice from Jordan really hits home with me as I don't want the Honest Project to turn into a blog that preaches or bashes others. With this in mind, I am making a conscious effort to focus on the foods and things I love and to refrain from bashing anything I dislike (although poor sugar and highly processed foods do get the odding bashing, I admit - but these are things not people so I don't feel too bad). So for the next 40 days, chose positivity over negativity and each day aim to promtoe all the things and people you love and to refrain from bashing people, messages and and things that annoy and frustrate you.
I hope you find inspiration in these ideas for your own Lenten promises :)