Giving It Up for Lent: creative spiritual disciplines for Spring.

For Christians the world over, this is the first week of Lent. Lent, from a Germanic root meaning spring, is a 40 day period prior to Easter. (For the basics of Lent, check out this handy primer from Maggie Dawn.)

Traditionally, Christians take on the discipline of fasting during this time and may refrain from eating prior to attending mass, or they may give up certain indulgences like chocolate, alcohol or red meat.

While the idea of fasting may sound depressingly heavy, Lent can be an excellent time to take up a good habit. With spring just around the corner, and New Year’s resolutions already a distant memory, a Lenten fast may be just positive kind of self-discipline you’ve been hungry for.

In recent years Lenten fasts have taken on a more symbolic air, and folks all over are coming up with new personal disciplines that give them a mind/body/spirit tune-up.

Jennifer Lance suggests giving up carbon, not chocolate with 40 days of using less power. (Did you know that for every regular light bulb in your home that you replace with an energy saving bulb, you save 60k of carbon production a year?) You can make a ritual out of removing just one bulb at Tearfund, or get crazy about it with these guys over at Power Down Pad.

After a long season of productivity, Christine at Abbey of the Arts is giving up over-achieving and doing nothing at all for 40 days.

The Anchoress is giving up writing about politics in order to spend some time looking inward and upward for voting guidance.

While some people may be giving up web surfing for Lent, Juniper over at Possible Water has decided to take on 40 posts in 40 days.

And the moms over at the Des Moines Moms Forum are giving up everything from over spending (no trips to Target) to celebrity gossip(bye-bye web surfing for the latest on Brittney.)

Here are some other creative Lenten ‘fasts’:

-Giving up on negativity. Ever noticed that no one says as many bad things about you as you do? For the next 40 days practice refraining from negative self-talk. Trying giving yourself a positive affirmation every time your inner critic starts beating you down.

-Giving up the background noise. Create some much-needed silence by turning off radio off while driving your car, keeping the TV off after dinner, or taking a walk without your MP3 player. You may be surprised by what revelations come to you in some regularly practiced quiet.

-Giving up on guys. One year in graduate school, all my single gal pals gave up thinking about men for Lent. No on-line profiles. No flirting. No carrying whether or not ‘he’ likes your outfit, your weight, or your wit. Just 40 days of freedom from the drama of the dating game.

What are you giving up for Lent this year?

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