In 2004 I started giving up chocolate for Lent and I managed all right with that for a few years. I had an MS attack at the beginning of Lent 2010 (not caused by the lack of chocolate *g*), but there was no way I could give up chocolate during these days. I had planned to also give up Starbucks for Lent that year but I gave up giving up sometime in the middle. Last year I mentally was in such a dark place around the time of Lent, I had no intention to take away things that helped cheering me up (chocolate, Starbucks etc.). This year I’m using “giving up chocolate & Starbucks” as consequence for broken promises of the “Promises 2012” so I can’t or don’t want to use it for Lent as well.
Last week I had a sudden inspiration and I hope I will benefit from this idea in the long run and be more mindful in the present moment. Just be more present at all. This year I’m planning to give up two things for Lent.
1. Using internet on my phone or play games on it to just kill some time
I’m not completely planning to give up using my phone to get online and I still haven’t quite figured out where to draw the line between usefully / necessarily using my phone to get online and using it just to pass the time while I’m waiting for something (during commute and such). I’m determined to at least not use it while I’m a) waiting for the train to arrive at the station and b) on the train itself. Because I tend to do that a lot. There are probably a lot more occasions when I do it and I will do my best to recognize these moments and to avoid that behaviour. But that might take a few days at first.
2. Listening to music on my iPod while I’m walking somewhere or when I’m on the train to get somewhere and also listening to music in the car while I’m driving to get somewhere.
Especially when I’m walking somewhere – which I do a lot, because I don’t own a car – I’m not really paying a lot of attention to my surroundings or what is happening around me. I’m either listing to the music or am lost in thought. Or both. In order to be more mindful and present it seems that giving up using my iPod hopefully is a good start. Of course I could still be lost in thoughts, but at least the musical distraction will be eliminated.
I will allow two exceptions to this: When I have a passenger in the car with me, because I don’t want to take away the background music in the car from anyone else. And I will still have the iPod in my bag for those moments when I just have to drone out loud and annoying conversations on the train. But I will try to not use it just to randomly pass the time.
Instead of listening to music or playing with my phone to pass the time during commute I’m planning to read a lot more, like I used to do in the pre-smartphone era. I’m sure I’ll experience withdrawel symptoms at first, but I hopefully will get use to it soon enough ;-). And I’m glad I still have today off and do not have to commute today, so I can start this Lent with the easier resolution of “no iPod while getting somewhere”. I have to go to a meeting in the afternoon, but I will just mindfully walk there and back without any distraction.