What Will You Give Up?

+Sugar Free March 12 Muse9667028_sRecently, I had a conversation with a friend about sugar. She stays away from the white sugar world, though she does have some sweetener in her diet in the form of raw honey and maple syrup. For myself, I’m mostly of the Archangel Michael’s persuasion around sugar. We see his philosophy in action in the movie “Michael” with John Travolta playing a highly unusual angel.

Michael is seen at breakfast piling countless heaping spoonfuls of sugar on his Frosted Flakes – already a junky, sugary cereal. It’s enough to make even the sweetest-toothed of sugar lovers cringe a little. Later, there’s a scene where Michael is sitting outside viewing the beautiful earth, reconciling himself with his last visit on the planet, when he offers Sparky the dog this sage wisdom, “Remember, Sparky, no matter what they tell you, you can never have too much sugar.” I always cheer at that moment!

But, I have actually been working recently on cleaning up my diet and have Greatly Reduced my sugar intake. I haven’t eliminated it completely, and I’m honestly not positive I want to. I mean, wouldn’t it be rude not to have a few bites of someone’s birthday cake? Wouldn’t it be?

But, my friend has a different take on it. No cake for her! No white sugar at all! When I asked her how, as a good Irish woman and black tea drinker, she could do without the traditional Irish dose of sugar in her cup, she said that many years ago, she’d decided to give up sugar in her tea for Lent. By the time she went back to her old practice at the end of Lent, the sugared tea didn’t taste quite right to her any more, so she just left it out from then on.

The jury’s still out on whether I’ll ever get to that point with sugar. And, I’m not a practicing Lent-follower per se, but I did experiment many years ago with giving up something for Lent that was habitual and hard for me to release. I gave up worrying. Worrying was a chronic, unhealthy and ineffective habit, but it was something I thought was a given part of my life – like sugar. Giving up worrying for Lent was a great practice for me. Whenever I would catch myself going into worry mode, I’d say, “Hey, now! None of that! You’re not allowed to worry during Lent.” It was a somewhat playful approach to behavior-modification, but it had good results.

Of course, a big part of its effectiveness was that I became more mindful of my unconscious pattern of worry. With that emerging consciousness as a starting point, I was able to turn off my usual mental tape recording and put other, more helpful thoughts in place. My pattern of worry definitely lessened. Like my friend with her taste for sugar, worrying never again fit into my life in the same way.

Lent has already begun, but it wasn’t until today that it occurred to me to participate. The idea came this morning to make a dailypractice of giving up something – even for just that day. For example, today, I’m giving up “efforting.”Instead, of effort-full, tension-filled energy, I’m inviting myself to experience my day as effortless.

It’s going pretty well! Every little while, I remind myself to call in effortlessness. As I organized my banking, did errands, cooked lunch, and wrote this Muse, I kept asking Source to help me operate from effortless alignment. I’ve been checking all day with myself to see if I feel tense, strained, effort-full in what I’m doing. If I am, I remind myself, “You’ve given up efforting today – reorder your energy!” I take a gentle breath, release some neck tension, rest my eyes for a moment, and whisper to myself, “Lighten up!” It’s amazing what a smooth day it’s been!

There are a lot of habitual qualities that aren’t doing me any good – judging, criticizing, resenting – no shortage on the list! Shifting my awareness around each one, even for a day at a time, feels like a start. And, despite what Michael says, I’m also going to keep working on the sugar thing.

What would it help you to give up? Experiment for a day and let me know how it goes…

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