How to Lent

By Sarah Turner

 

How and Why You Should Participate in Lent, even if you aren’t religious:

 

Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but a few weeks ago you probably saw some students with tiny black blobs on their foreheads. What the heck is Ash Wednesday? It’s the start of Lent! But most importantly…what the heck is Lent, right?

 

A quick synopsis is that Lent is a 40-day period before the Easter holiday, and for Christians (particularly Christians part of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions) use this six-week period to fast, give something up, or add something positive to their standard routine to prepare themselves for Easter. To many people foreign to the concept or the faith background, this may seem strange. But the other day I was sitting at a restaurant, listening to a group of kids talk about Lent – “I’m not even religious, but I’m giving up Instagram for Lent” – And then I realized, 40 days is a weird amount of time, but studies show that it takes about a minimum of 21 days to break a habit. So, regardless of your religious beliefs, maybe Lent could be an opportunity to break that nasty habit you’ve been trying to break for a while. And funnily enough, during this 40-day period, a little thing called Coachella is happening. Perhaps you need to stop biting your nails, or maybe start exercising a little bit more. So, if you don’t want to work towards the bougie manicure or the dream bod for the sake of Easter, maybe Coachella weekend serves as a better motivator J.

A few years ago, I gave up swearing for Lent. Ironic, for sure, but after enough time, my vernacular changed from total mouth-of-a-trucker, to a bit more refined. In the past for me, Lent was more of a time to break a habit, or take something negative out of my lifestyle, which is definitely important, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to also add things to my lifestyle to further increase my levels of joy, and maybe even those around me. Self-reflection is really important and being mindful helps with this immensely. This year I decided to give up social media, but on top of that, also add 15 minutes every day to just sit back, listen to music, and reflect. Typically, I’ll go to the Bluff, maybe I’ll just lay in my bed. But every day, for 15 minutes, I take the time to reflect. Sounds kinda selfish, maybe, but the more mindful I am, the nicer, happier, and more patient I become. And I wouldn’t have tried to discipline myself to do this if it wasn’t for the challenge of the Lenten season.

 

In short, Lent may be a religious period of time, but for those of you who are not religious, breaking a habit or adding something positive to your routine doesn’t necessarily have to be seen that way. Lent, for everyone, can be a great opportunity! So, if you’re willing, let’s break those bad habits, and take a little time for self-reflection during these 40 days!