Don’t know about you, but getting into Daylight Savings Time always messes me up for a good week. My body & mind, having drunk in the desperately needed morning light for the past few weeks, feels slammed back into the funk & fog of winter darkness.
Considering the switch coincides with the first week of Lent this year, the timing is perhaps more fortuitous. Even though I’m hardly a practicing Catholic anymore, in recent years I’ve embraced these weeks around the spring equinox as one last dive into the workings of my soul before emerging fully into the bright months of the year. (Though the transition is the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, the energy of reassessment still prevails.)
As a child, the conversation revolved around what we would “give up” for Lent – and it had to be something big, that would hurt, like candy. Chocolate…then wine, as I got older. It was expected but never fully explained.
The 40-odd days of Lent represent the time that Jesus spent wandering the desert and facing his demons, as a preparation for going forth with his mission. Fasts, vision quests, retreats – the idea of stepping away from physical needs & demands in order to strengthen the connection to Soul/the Divine is ubiquitous in spiritual tradition.
Without a solid grasp of this concept, though, my Lenten sacrifice inevitably felt like an arbitrary punishment for something I wasn’t sure I’d done. It perpetuated the idea that a virtuous act and an eventual reward (a new dress & some Easter chocolate) must necessarily involve just that: a sacrifice, a punishment, a price to pay. I’ve recently discovered how deeply held that idea has remained in my psyche, in my cells. (But that’s a topic for another day.)
I’ve come up against that same feeling of being randomly punished the first few times I considered a seasonal cleanse, or tried to give up a certain food for health reasons. I see it in my clients too. I can suggest a woman give up, say, dairy to reduce her fibroids & menstrual pain, then will inevitably have to talk her down from a ledge. Despite the much-touted health benefits of a detox, there’s still a lot of fear around being deprived or you’re missing out, or that you’ve done something wrong.
What is it about the idea of giving something up that reinforces the wall of resistance?
We live in a time of accumulation – the growth of the American Empire is a story of personal wealth. Be it money, property/stuff, fame; more = better. (And we wonder why we’re getting fat in the process!)
With the “pursuit of happiness” geared in material gain, the idea of letting something go can feel like you’re swimming against the current of your purpose. It can feel like giving up on your dreams because you can’t have everything. It can feel like a failure. And so we approach it kicking and screaming.
Albert Einstein made a beautiful observation:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
In the same way, we tend to measure that goal of “personal wealth” from the external. Rather than using the objects & opportunities around us as tools to serve our purpose, they have become our purpose.
Lent, seasonal detoxes, Spring & pre-Passover cleaning: all of it is meant to focus us back into what’s truly important.
You’re meant to use this time of year to re-prioritize your life based on what you learned during the inner quiet of Winter. Get rid of what’s getting stale, like last year’s flour used to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Release what no longer serves you, as you shed the wool sweater that’s now unnecessary.
Plant the seeds for the beauty you want to see blossom in the your life, your relationships, your health.
To help you with just that, I’m giving a free webinar, because what I want to see grow in this world is the number of women with the tools to live their outer lives more deeply connected to who they are inside.
Get in on the conversation right away: in the comments below, tell me what you struggle with when doing a seasonal cleanse. Or tell us your experience of Lent. When you share your piece, you open the possibilities for others.