It’s cuaresma, lent and maybe that means something to you or maybe it means nothing. I'm an "open minded" Catholic and use religion as a base for my spirituality. For me, lent is the one time during the year that I make a conscious decision to make a few sacrifices in my daily life in order to get more connected with God, the universe, and my body in order to get more clarity in my life and my journey. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and while my husband doesn't quite understand why I “keep doing this to yourself” it is much needed spiritual and mental therapy that allows me to reconnect with my inner self. You don't have to be Catholic or religious to get more connected but you have to make a conscious effort towards it.
Religion is a base for my spirituality. I've always been curious about religions and spiritual and mystical practices including Gnosticism, Kabbala, Buddhism, Yoga, Indian teachings, and Magia. I've drawn from each individual things that resonate with me and my soul. At the end of the day the goal is to try and live a purposeful life, a life that matters while serving others. A life that eliminates the “I wonder what would've happened if” and replaces it with "I know what happened because." The unknown can be a very scary thing but my trust/faith in this higher power to guide me through even the most difficult of times is what keeps me pushing forward.
So what does this spiritual journey look like every year? Take a look and see if it inspires you to get more connected with yourself and that higher power.
Setting an intention
I start cuaresma with an intention. I may ask a question that I need clarity on. I may set the intention for a sick relative. I'll set the intention for my marriage if we're going through a rough patch or if it needs an extra spark. I may set it for my health if my cronic back pain flares up. Setting an intention steers my 40 day journey on something to focus on and work on. I keep it simple and purposeful.
Changing what I eat
The goal is to eat cleaner, less processed, more rich foods that are easily digestible in order for my body to spend less energy focusing on food leaving more energy for mind.
1. Decaf Cafecito & Herbal Tea
You guys know I LOVE my caffeine filled Cafecito and it is very much needed in the mornings, but does my body reaaally need it? Um no. I switch to decaf to decrease my caffeine intake and progress to herbal teas, my favorites being Yogi Chai tea, now called Rooibos tea. After the first week's withdrawal symptoms I realize that life without Cafecito is ok too.
2. No alcohol...not even a sip.
I enjoy my wine and margaritas so this one is hard to give up, especially on those nights when my soon to be 3 yr old Victoria just refuses to listen, is screaming bloody murder, and I'm sure the cops will be knocking at my door. I do feel better I must say, I wake up less swollen and more refreshed. What's my alternative? A Non alcoholic beer if I'm out socially, otherwise just water.
3. No meat just pescatarian.
This is not that difficult for me. I don't eat beef regularly, though I do enjoy a nice steak every now and then. I limit my diet to be mostly vegetarian with fish a couple of times a week. If you're on a spiritual quest or would like to seek more clarity giving up meat and alcohol are huge. Your body uses less energy to digest, you become way more regular (yes I'm talking poop), consistently eliminate toxins, and wake up more energized. Check out this salmon recipe. Looks delish, I'd do it without the wine.
4. Less Sugar Also Means No Ice Cream and Less "Carbs".
I'm not a huge sugar fan so the only thing that is hard for me to give up when it comes to sugar is ice cream (see us at this ice cream festival below) and a pan de bono or 2. Less carbs means no breads or bagels or buñuelos, but I'll have an occasional tortilla or arepa for breakfast or lunch.
Connecting Physically with My Body
While I try to workout a few times a week, during Lent I make sure to focus on doing Yoga more. I enjoy A Yoga practice. I may do Yoga at home and while I feel better after I do, it I prefer practicing away from home at a park or studio, away from the visual toy clutter, and away from the “mami what are u doing?” The overall goal is to end with a meditation to really make that connection.
Connecting with My Mind
A retreat or getaway.
Maybe its as simple as going on a long hike and reconnecting with nature or maybe its a church retreat. Maybe its a day at the spa to treat yourself. Whatever it is, I recommend that you do this alone and for an entire day. Get your husband or abuela to watch the kids and plan a day just for you. Allow yourself to feel, get emotional, laugh, cry, connect. As mamás we're creatures of constant giving and many times we put ourselves last. Make time for you. You deserve it, you need it, your body and soul will thank you.
Gratitude, prayer, and listening.
Whatever my intention is I pray on it. I thank God in advance for the outcome and I listen. Early in the morning before everyone is up, I lay in bed and just listen, this is a part of my everyday life. I cant tell you how many times I've heard messages clear as day, like the time I was torn between naming our daughter Scarlett or Victoria and I woke up to the whisper of “Victoria is her name.” Call it God, the universe, your intuition, or whatever you want, if you actively listen you will hear and this is very powerful. It will become your guiding light.
Ending with an Easter celebration!
I end my 40 day journey with an Easter celebration. It starts with a joyous trip to church. I am proud of myself and whether I get an answer or resolution to my intention doesn't really matter at this point because I know I've worked hard and have a stronger connection to God and my purpose in life. Mass is followed by yummy brunch where I over indulge and usually get tipsy on 1 margarita, what do you expect! It's then followed by a fun family event, and as much as I love food, I must say this is my favorite. They are my heart and soul, it's all worth it because of them.
May you find strength and courage during your own spiritual journey. Life is too precious to take for granted. God bless.