By now you may be sick of me writing about mindfulness — that act of living in the present moment, fully experiencing each moment with all of one’s senses, noticing one’s thoughts without judging them and just simply being aware. I think I’m writing about it a lot in the past six months, probably because I’m trying to get myself to use it more often in my own life. This morning I found myself wondering whether mindfulness would be useful to me during the next forty days.
Today is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, and Fasnacht Day. It is the day before the beginning of the forty day Christian season of Lent, a time for self-reflection during which people traditionally gave up what they considered to be indulgent foods such as butter, lard, oils, and sugar. So, what better way to rid the cabinets of butter, lard, oils, and sugar than to make doughnuts and pastries the day before Lent begins?!
I’m half joking…I have eaten many a doughnut on previous Fasnacht Days, but did I enjoy them? No. Well, maybe for the 1.2 minutes it took me to consume the doughnut(s) when my tastebuds were turned on and the sugar rushed into my bloodstream and my head was filled with happy thoughts of childhood. But then…then I was left alone with new thoughts (“You shouldn’t have eaten that. It’s so bad for you! You have NO willpower. What’s wrong with you? This is a terrible way to start Lent. You’d better make up for this by not eating anything bad for the next forty days”). This was followed by the agony of self-loathing, which often continued for a day or two before my will dissolved and I again reached for one of my so-labeled “BAD FOODS”.
So, since I have struggled with this cycle in previous years and since Lent is typically a more quiet season that allows for the opportunity to be still and pay attention to the myriad little things going on around us and inside our minds, hearts, and spirits, I think I will try to employ some mindfulness techniques for the next forty days. I don’t think it will be easy. But maybe, just maybe, I can actually enjoy a doughnut or pastry today and be okay with it. And maybe mindfulness will help me with my Lenten discipline of not putting sugar in my hot tea and with my early morning “centering prayer”.
How will you use mindfulness in the coming days and weeks?
Peace, joy, and health,