Monday, February 6, 2017

Giving Up Distractions for Lent (series introduction)

I have decided to give up distractions for Lent. Ash Wednesday is not until the first of March this year, so we have three full weeks before Lent begins. But a productive Lenten observance is more likely if we have thought about it ahead of time and prepared. For example, if you want to give up coffee, it would not be advisable to go cold turkey. You would first want to cut down the amount you drink over a period of time, so you don't suffer massive withdrawal symptoms. I may or may not give up coffee, but if I decide to, giving up distractions would facilitate the process. How?

Well, I have found that distractions rob me of sleep. Worrying distracts me and can cause insomnia, making it difficult to fall asleep, to stay asleep, and/or to go back to sleep when I awaken too early. When I don't get enough sleep, I drink more coffee. Caffeine can contribute to insomnia as well, and in my case it also causes stomach problems. An upset stomach, in turn, can lead to insomnia and is an additional distraction. So you see the cycle. If distractions which cause insomnia are eliminated, then I will sleep better and hence need less coffee, and my stomach will thank me! Ultimately I have to reduce the number of things which cause me to worry, feel stress, and make me lose my focus. Before determining what you will give up for Lent, think about going deeper spiritually and rooting out the underlying reasons for your stumbling blocks. Then formulate your plan.

Today I made a list of my top 5 worst distractions. One of them is physical clutter, which has sub-categories to be tackled one at a time. I consider distractions themselves to be a form of clutter, either mental or emotional. Even if giving up distractions will not specifically be part of your Lenten practices, many of us would have a better quality of life if we worked on pinpointing and reducing those things which worry, aggravate, and deplete us, ultimately preventing us from finding true joy, meaning, and purpose. They keep us focused on the wrong things, and we leave important things undone. We become scattered and lose our serenity. As home educators, there is no way we can effectively teach from rest if we fritter away our time and energy on distractions.

I want to have my project for giving up distractions well under way by the time Ash Wednesday arrives. This was the day to take the first step of making my list, and in fact I am already tackling one of my key distraction areas. If you want to join me, make your list soon and start thinking about how you will accomplish your goals. I will cover each of my items in a series of posts titled, Giving Up Distractions. So stay tuned, and let me know how your process is going!

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