Lenten Journey as an Opportunity for Renewal !
I feel for both religious and non-religious folks Lent is a perfect opportunity to detoxify, shed the excess and think about the life. The main purpose of the Lenten Journey according to the church is Giving, Prayer and Fasting but you don’t need to be an avid church member to benefit from this tradition.
According to the traditions of Apostolic Orthodox church that I grew up with , during Lent you go Vegan as well as cut down on Wine and Olive Oil consumption. Which means eating a lot of greens , vegetables, nuts, legumes, as Swedish say “eat less chew more” during this time to get the most nutrients out of small amount of food.
Going vegan does not mean panicking and eating more! It does not also mean depriving yourself of proteins. Consuming beans, tofu and/or lentils work perfectly . Also it is probably not a good idea for crazy work out sessions.
I found out that yoga works the best for me at this time, and not the super intense one, more of the meditative strength building sessions are much easier to tolerate, be gentle towards your body, don’t strain it. Although it is not in the “rules” of the Church but trying to cut down “white “ products as well, like starches, sugar and salt are much, much better for body and no risk of gaining 20 ponds on carbs and sugar instead of loosing it.
The purpose of these dietary restrictions is to reminds us of what is essential in our lives. During Lent we strip away all the excesses, we purge our system of the toxins and we find what we need to live. (Fr. Vazken Movsesian)
Second Part is Praying. It can also be Meditating, asking for Guidance from the Higher Power, just reading about Philosophy of life or plain Journaling and reflecting on life , whatever works. Basic concept is the same , less in more out. Putting less useless information in, while reflecting and gaining more insight. If you’re ambitious, you can also cut down on TV, shopping, overall excess consumption of staff. This is the time to practice self-control , restrictions, pure living and minimalism. Since it is not for rest of your life, but only for 50 days, it is kind of a cool challenge .
The third is about giving. Giving does not have to be about making a monetary contribution to your favorite charity,( which is always good of course ) but rather about giving kindness, love, consideration ,forgiveness and patience to the people that you encounter in your daily life. Even not cutting someone on the freeway might be an act of giving. Not snapping back at a rude person, but rather letting them be, with the thought that they might be having a really bad day. Giving is all about small acts of kindness.
I did follow lent for few times and every time you feel , physically lighter( literally !) , start to get into a habit of eating less and being satisfied with less. Afterwards food does taste better!… you start sensing more flavors, after restricted diet. You feel a bit kinder. Feel less inclined to judge people and be more excepting. Going shopping feels fantastic since now you are more mindful about staff you buy and more appreciative .
And feels just awesome to know that you were able to go trough the challenge and make it!
Again I don’t think you have to be super religious to benefit from the Lenten Journey, It is a great challenge to try!