The theme for March is Practice. We know that “practice makes perfect.” It takes practice to become adept at any given discipline, art or craft. We admire athletes and artists, who perfect their performances through life-long dedication. Similarly, we’re capable of perfecting our own lives through disciplines that help us to be better humans.
“Through practice, gently and gradually we can collect ourselves and learn how to be more full with what we do.” — Jack Kornfield
Lent begins Ash Wednesday, March 2. In the Christian tradition, this marks the period leading to Easter. It’s a commemoration of Jesus’ 40-day spiritual journey of fasting and prayer. This extreme discipline prepared him for his suffering, death and ultimate resurrection.
However, beyond the religious meaning of this yearly period, its symbolism offers us much to contemplate and emulate. It’s an opportunity to prepare for the year’s new birth with the coming of spring. The word lent as a noun is traced to the Old English word lencten, referring to the lengthening of days. The days are lengthening as we move toward the Spring Equinox. This is a time to expand after the withdrawal that began in the autumn which led us through the shorter days and darkness of winter. Moreover, this time offers us the opportunity to recommit to practices that will keep us in good stead throughout the year.
“By the practice of meditation, you will find that you are carrying within your heart a portable paradise.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
Furthermore, other religious traditions and spiritual lineages prescribe rituals and practices during this same yearly time frame. The Jews have Passover. It commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, a triumph over destructive forces. In India, the Hindus celebrate the Goddess Durga in her many forms – “she who slays the demons of darkness and danger.” It’s called Navaratri, a nine-day period of restricted diet, ritual and mantra. There are four yearly Navaratri festivals; the two main ones are in the spring and fall. The Muslims have Ramadan, a month of fasting, prayer, charity and self-reflection. It begins April 3 this year.
These yearly events give us examples of how we can anchor and recommit to bettering ourselves through daily disciplines. A good way to reconnect to a personal practice is to journal and create a template. This can be done in a number of ways and its format is up to you. A highly recommended structure would be to base it on mindfulness and build it from there.
“Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” — Martha Graham
Finally, mindfulness means being watchful of yourself in every way. It means to be focused. This develops awareness of your thoughts, words and actions and their consequences. It’s the practice of being present and totally alive.
March’s Scent of the Month: Ginger Oil. This oil is sweet with a kick. Moreover, gingerol is its main bioactive compound and is the reason why its medicinal properties are so profound. It’s used to counteract nausea and as an aid to digestion. Additionally, ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and is believed to be good for both your bones and heart. Furthermore, its known for promoting mental alertness, therefore it’s a great oil for meditation and commitment! For more information on how to use it and to order, I recommend Doterra and Young Living products.
Suggested Reading: Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage by Philip Goldberg
Images: Courtesy of pexels.com/freephoto stock source.