Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days of Delight: My Lenten Diet

Lent is then not a season of punishment so much as one of healing.

--Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration

When I was little, night time could be extra scary. I would often awaken to horrible fighting and so as an adult I have had a lifelong struggle with sleeping well. I get intense nightmares, even night terrors. As I live a life filled with love and meaning and joy and beauty, my sleeping gets better, the nightmares less intense and less frequent.

But they are not completely gone. I go through cycles, and when this happens, it turns into something else: Pre-bed anxiety. Just the other night, I finally noticed that this was happening. (It can take me some time to become aware of it, because I can so easily shut off parts of myself.)

As I prepare for bed, taking a warm bath, petting kittens, I notice my anxiety and fear increasing. And the other night, I noticed I was having some fear of death. Death feels much closer at night, in the dark, in the descending quiet of sleep time, when our mind's chatter can become amplified and suddenly seem as though it is the only voice in the world. Things you know during the day -- that you are safe, that life is good -- can be easily drowned by this nasty voice of All Human Fears.

Once I became aware of the arrival of this unwanted and uninvited bedtime guest, I did what I am supposed to do and I told Marcy. We began the process of examining our current life for triggers. They can be different from time to time, depending on what is going on, yet there are some that are consistent.

A few years ago, our TV broke, and we never bothered to get a replacement. Though we watch DVD's and download from iTunes, this has eliminated commercials and unwanted news breaks. This helped my brain's overactive imagination a lot. Media fasts are important for all us but especially for the brain that has been directly exposed to violence on a regular basis, I think.


I still have a TV issue. I watch too much. Just because I watch very little compared to the average American does not mean that I still don't watch an excess -- for me. For this brain. For this body.

I was thinking about all of this in the context of my call for you to take the 40 days of lent to delight in your body.

What we put into out bodies matters -- from the food to the media -- so in order to delight in better sleep (and therefore better days), I am going on a TV diet. I try this from time to time, but I think adding it to the idea of Lent will make my Will that much stronger.

At night, instead of being a passive recipient of junk food for the brain, I am going to partake of good, healthy brain food in the form of poetry and (gasp!) excellent fiction. I have been reading far too little as of late -- too much nonfiction, if you ask me -- and I am in need of well constructed story and beautiful language. When I was younger, fiction saved me, acting as balm for my weary heart.

Let the Healing begin.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I hope you and Marcy will read poetry to each other!

Elize said...

great thoughts! have linked to two of these posts from my blog, and passed on a sunshine award to you! many blessings!

alisha said...

so great. i have been thinking about doing the same thing lately--with screen time in general. i'm doing better with the computer, but i need to work on eliminating the tv during the day again and reserve it specifically for after the kids go to bed.

Karen D said...

Sounds like a great plan. I think I will be adding movement to my life and taking out white sugar for the lenten period.
I also have trouble at night, for years and still from time to time I sleep with my clothes on and I have to fall asleep to tv or reading, I just can't lay my head down in a quite room and sleep.

Michelle said...

Loving on the Lenten spirit and beautiful action you are inspiring. I'm working on the same thing and taking risks this year like never before! Yummy stuff! ;-)

Megan Potter said...

Love your diet post! The television, my one major vice - I keep telling myself that considering I come from a family of addicts TV is probably the least dangerous one I could have.

I decided to go with adding, rather than subtracting, as I'm not technically an observer of Lent. So yesterday, I put up a list of 40 Ways I'm going to Delight in Myself and My Body - the plan is to do one each day of Lent as part of your challenge.

You can see my list here if you like:


claire said...

I very much like your Lenten diet. Truly inspiring. Many thanks. Now I must look at the posts I missed!
Many blessings on your path and good readings :-)

Jan said...

This is great, Christine. I wish you well with this. I would absolutely be in bliss if more people turned off their TVs and fed their mind really good quality "food." (Input creates reality...)

I am one of those people who can attest to the benefits of very little to no TV (we have not had one in our house for 5 years now) It has expanded my growth beyond my wildest dreams. Not to mention deepen the bond between my beloved and myself...:-) Enjoy the poetry!

paul said...

Thanks for sharing your insights. Having a lenten diet requires motivation.

Lorna Vanderhaeghe