The Cook Awakening

Lent: Two Weeks In

March 21, 2014
Posted in: Seasonal Change

My Lenten commitments are: refraining from all forms of caffeine except cocoa or chocolate, shutting down the computer by 10, and being in bed by 10:30.

The Madonna

Lenten Contemplation

I’m so glad I don’t suffer as much as I used to from perfectionist critic attacks. Sometimes I feel like the skills I’ve developed in this area are the most useful and foundational of all the consciousness work I’ve done over the years. Knowing that progress counts for a lot is incredibly affirming. I remember a time when not hitting a mark perfectly, a mark that I had created, would send me into a tail spin of self flagellation for days.

I have successfully refrained from the caffeine. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my chocolate, and have definitely used it as a stimulant on a few tired days.

My kids succumbed to a flu over the weekend, and we have had a few sleepless nights of asthma, coughing, and moaning in pain the likes of which we have not seen in a few years. I had blissfully and erroneously thought we were through those years. But there we were, with another opportunity to rock and problem solve at 2 am when they were sure the world was ending at any minute.

I planned my caffeine fast breaking in those wee hours a couple of times. On one occasion I had people coming for a potluck the next day. I needed to be awake and alert, I bargained. I would forgive myself.

But, I found the next day I didn’t even think about the cup of mate’ I’d been dreaming of. It occurred to me halfway through the party that I was awake and comfortable and I hadn’t even had any chocolate.

It shouldn’t have surprised me, really. That was the purpose of choosing to let go of the stimulant, to let my natural resilience kick in again. The trap of caffeine for me is: the more I use it the more I need it, and eventually the less it works. I miss a certain exhilarating sharpness the tea gives me, at least in the beginning of the period of time I start using it. I have to acknowledge that what I miss is not the awakeness, but the high. Once a drug addict, always a drug addict. But, that’s a topic for another post.

This is why I’m observing Lent. Not in order to get something perfect, but to learn about myself. It’s a mindfulness practice.

I have not closed the computer by 10 or been in bed by 10:30 every night. But, holding the intention has kept me more aware of the hour in the evenings. My habit had become to be on the computer until 11:15 or 11:30, then close it in a mild panic or a feeling of dread, knowing that I would be short on sleep in the morning. I’ve convinced myself that I need that time after everyone is a abed to self-regulate. “It’s my only time alone that isn’t devoted to my business!” I tell myself. “I need my alone time!”

Obviously there’s a relationship between this commitment and the letting go of caffeine.

So, while I have not always been in bed by 10:30, I have been there between 10:30 and 11 most nights, barring child induced insomnia. And one night when I just plain lost track of time.

That is progress. I’m getting more sleep, more consistently. My afternoon energy is more stable.

I haven’t noticed that I’m going crazy from lack of alone time. I have been, quite naturally, taking a half hour or so in the afternoons to just lie down, and sometimes do some meditation practices.

I am falling a bit behind on my emails, but that could also be having the kids home sick.

What will I do when Lent is over? I’ve been having some thoughts about that. I’d like to continue to work on getting more sleep. Just keep the Lenten commitment.

Caffeine? Ayiyi. I miss it. I recognize the benefit of letting it go. But, I really enjoy the zip in my mind. I’m thinking I’ll view it as a weekend indulgence. And, I’ve tried that before and found myself letting it bleed into the week, convincing myself it’s okay.

I have until Easter to contemplate it.

Change is a process. So often we see it as black and white – on New Year’s Day I will turn over that new leaf! I’ve been bad, and now I’ll be GOOD. At Lent I’ll give up all that bad stuff and those bad behaviors and then I’ll be GOOD!

I find the “try something without pressure and notice what happens” approach so much easier on my system. My clients report the same. Can we just all forgive ourselves for being human to start with? Maybe we could get on with making the changes we really want to make in a sustainable way, knowing it’s all about the consciousness we bring to our life that will bring us less suffering, not how “good” we are.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 3:03 am and is filed under Seasonal Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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