For the last week or so I have had several conversations about the season of Lent. Not surprisingly, many people have bantered about what they have decided to give up during this time. To be honest, I have never given something up for Lent.
This year I began questioning why people give things up. I have learned, from a spiritual perspective, that Lent it is an introspective time where individual give up negative thoughts and criticism to create room for more loving, supportive and positive thoughts. It is a time to make life changes that can lead to better, more healthy living.
I thought, "this is such a brilliant, loving, and supportive ritual." But, then I questioned why people would give things up instead of looking at changing their thought processes.
I have heard of people giving up chocolate, caffeine or another types of poor health behaviors and I wonder why people will only change their behavior for 40 days to return to their less healthy habits.
A dear friend and mentor said that even when people give up things that are negative or bad for them, there is the process of creating space for positive changes to take place in their lives. For example if someone gives up eating too much sugar, chocolate, or caffeine, their body starts to detoxify. They start to think more clearly, get rid of waste more effectively, have more energy and feel better. This is a positive change for their health.
Even if they only give something up for 40 days, they will remember the effects of cutting (it) out of their life.
I have worked with women during their Lent process to create a plan that changed their health. We have been able to make improvement to menstrual and fertility issues, weight management, diabetes and blood sugar issues, constipation, blood pressure and cholesterol issues.
My friend even joked with me that the process of changing behavior during Lent is good for me as a doctor. When I tell patients they need to make changes to their health, they can remember they had success during Lent. Because of Lent, they can do what I request to get the health benefits they are seeking in our work together.