“Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.” Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent: a period of reflection in preparation for Easter meant to mimic Jesus’s 40-day trial of temptation in the desert.
Some people see Lent as a period of purification for the heart, mind, soul, and body, but as a Christian, I believe that Christ atoned for all of our sins. We are made pure by our acceptance of his sacrifice, not by our actions or thoughts. Lent should be a time to meditate and grow closer to Christ, to fully appreciate his sacrifice. In order to do this, we must delve deep into our own person, reflecting on who we are, what we believe, and how we live. We must meditate on the world around us, it’s complexities, and our place and purpose within it. Once we grasp understanding, then we must act it out and share it with others.
Our society today is full of stress and evil, and if we cannot center ourselves firmly in our beliefs and identity, we will be lost to the chaos and smothered by darkness. There are many forms of meditation and prayer. It can be a meditative activity as simple as cleaning, cooking, gardening, exercising, writing, listening to music, or creating art. Or it can be as intentional as lectio divina or a guided meditation style. But these types of practices only work when you make them a daily part of your lifestyle. Different types of meditation are better at for different situations, so it’s good to practice a diversity of meditations regularly. Maybe you’re saying, “I’m too busy for that!” If you’re too busy to take a couple minutes, a half-hour, or an hour out of each day to recenter yourself and reflect on your beliefs, that’s probably why you have so much stress, anxiety, and feel out-of-balance or lost.
Personally, I’ve never been very devoted to prayer, and I’ve been skeptical or frustrated with many meditation practices. Therefore, I have created an agenda for lent that focuses on a specific meditation style I would like to try for each of the six weeks of Lent. The practices move from inward reflection to observation of the world and active connection with others. I have chosen meditation practices that are less main stream, like an experimental trial or taster session. I will be writing a post for each of these practices, so I invite you to follow the posts or to join me in one or more of these practices. If you’ve already committed to something for Lent, this is an easy addition that can help deepen your reflection on whatever action you have decided to take for Lent.
The following weeks will be seven days committed to the specified practice with each new week starting on the Monday of each week (I will post Sunday afternoons with the new practice).
Week 1: Know thy self by getting in the habit of doing a meditative routine. You likely do something meditative already when you feel stressed, so practice doing that every day, even when you’re not stressed, and you may find it helps prevent you from getting to that desperate, break-down phase. I will simply be sitting still in a position for a designated amount of time each day listening to music (the practice of Zazen and Vipassana meditation). This will prepare my mind and daily schedule for the following weeks.
Week 2: Learn to focus and clear your mind when faced with stress or danger with the practice of “grounding.”
Week 3: Learn to observe your surroundings without bias or judgement with sensation walks.
Week 4: Learn to absorb your surroundings and reflect on larger concepts without bias or judgement through “deep listening.”
Week 5: Connect yourself to the wider world by creating a mandala/mantra focused on a specific topic/concept throughout the week.
Week 6: Participate actively in the world and connect with others through active friendliness and volunteering.
*Note that I am using some broad terms, but I will be specific with how I mean to practice them in each post.
If you decide to follow me or join me in these meditations for Lent, let me know. I would love to support you and be in community during this time.