A few years ago I heard the story of what happened when a young American asked the Dalai Lama how to have a deeper spiritual life. No doubt this person was expecting some advice about meditation techniques and detachment from self and so on, but the Dalai Lama simply replied: ‘Eat less and sleep more’. The person who told us this story (it was on a clergy retreat), added another good rule: hug someone once a day.
Since then I’ve been noticing how simple it actually is to have a good Lent – by which I mean, a Lent in which you feel at the end that something worthwhile has been achieved, that some progress has been made. In no particular order, some of the guidelines I’ve been collecting for myself over the last few years include:
1. Get more sleep (for me that means going to bed earlier)
2. Eat less
3. Spend less time on the Internet
4. Be sure to pray every day
5. Spend more time listening to people, and to God
6. Hug the people you love, and the people who need a hug
7. Go for a walk regularly
8. Read something worthwhile through Lent, and don’t be in a hurry about it
9. Give up something, just to strengthen my self-control muscles and prove to myself that I don’t have to have everything I feel like having in order to be happy
10. Be more open to interruptions and to the possibility that God might have different plans for my day than I do.
What are some of your guidelines – the things that help you have a good Lent (i.e. grow in love for God and neighbour)?