Sunday, March 04, 2012

Joy in Lent

I’ve found that I have a certain gravitational pull to my thoughts, and reflections in general. I’ve perfected the skill of naval gazing and there is a part of me that resonates greatly in the search for depth and self-knowledge. I also know, that if left to my own devices, I will spend large quantities of time reflecting, even to the point of despair. This is both a gift and a growing edge. And so Lent proves to be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Mining the depths of my selfhood in search of the nooks and crannies of wrong turns and wayward searching is what I do, in the hopes that glimmers of life and growth might come. I can say that growth does come, but oh boy, what a process. And Lent? Well, there is more to Lent than the darkness and so I try to find a balance.

This year I’ve been focusing on some soulful practices, in an effort to find some joy in the midst of the search. I can let myself get bogged down with deep thoughts that circle inward or I can focus on the root of the message and the meaning that spirals outward. So for this Lent, I am focusing on the spiral outward…at least just a little bit.

The following are some practices that I’ve been engaging in that have provided to be very soulful and even thought provoking.

• Reading at a bar. Try it sometime. Take a good book, go to a bar on a week day. Order yourself a drink and read. Stop every now and again to people watch. Savor each sip from your drink. Highlight special parts in your book. Soak in the moment. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the bar tender. Smile at other customers. Order a dessert or an appetizer. Marvel at how different…uncomfortable or life giving the experience is. Get your check. Leave a good tip. Wonder to yourself…was this nourishing? It sure was for me. I’ve been reading a book called Anam Cara at a neighborhood establishment in the middle of the week. I met neighbors and even some new folks. I tried a few new drinks. And I even found an hour in my week to just be…and read.

• Go to a soulful event….something that inspires you. Take some notes. Recline in your seat. Take some deep breaths. So far I’ve gone to an open mic poetry night and a lecture about women’s liberation while quilting. It sparked my interest in the creative world again and I’m already working on some things.

• Listen to some music that feeds you. I recently got a new record player and let me tell you, music on the record is just pure bliss. I’m instantly brought back to some really great memories in my childhood. I’ve bought some records at a thrift store and I just sit there…listening to the faint crackle of the needle on the record and the music.

• Cultivate silence in the day. I’ve made it a practice lately to just sit in my chair and be silent for a little while. Sometimes it’s only a few minutes but I try to get a few moments throughout the day to plug in. It’s been refreshing and the silence has brought some clarity as well.

• Do some dancing damn it. I can’t tell you how good it feels to let it all out on the dance floor. Closing my eyes…moving my body…even dancing with someone else has been so….healing. One thing I am learning this year is that body movement really does make a difference. Dancing is just a soulful, sexy way of doing it.

So far these are the practices that I’ve been focused on. I have a daily meditation routine, but these are moments that really make me feel alive and full. I’ve been inspired in these last few weeks and that has made all the difference. I share there here in the hopes that it might cultivate a little fire within someone else to find something that might work for you. Lent doesn’t have to be so depressing. In fact, going into the depth of your self is also finding the things that you like the most about who you’ve become. Continue to cultivate that because it’s important to like the company you keep.

1 comment:

a.e. nee said...

Thank you for this, Meg! It is so good to hear your reflections and spurs some for me too. But without getting into that may I just say that Anam Cara keeps coming up! I heard of it several years ago and was reminded of it several times in the last month or two. I will have to try to find it at one of these used bookstores! Also, how right you are about record players! I miss mine and am hoping to be reunited with it soon, there is nothing like it. I miss you too, by the way! Love!