You have to grow from the inside out.
None can teach you, none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul.
Every book I’ve written my subtitle is: Heal from the Inside Out because the inner work must begin first in order to do the outer work. Swami Vivkananda understood this, that growth comes from within and that until an inner realization occurs to a person, no matter how many times people tell them something, they disagree to change…as you have to grow from the inside out.
Swami Vivkananda was an Indian Hindu Monk credited for raising interfaith awareness. For many religions, this is the holiest season.
As a cradle Catholic I’m entering lent, a period of sober observance, a preparation for the commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter.
Tulips, Spring, and Easter
Springtime and thoughts of tulips pop into my head as Easter is soon to come. Lent, Easter, and tulips all rolled into one. Ash Wednesday, last week, was the start of the Lenten season. Lent (in some Christian denominations) is a forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter.
When I think of Lent, I can’t help but slip into my many memories of vowing to God I will never eat chocolate, sugar, and flour again. At mass on Ash Wednesday, I’d sit in the pew, teeth clenched, promising never ever to binge on sugary, chocolaty foods. I promise! Only to fall a few short days into my penance.
Last week I looked around the church, sitting comfy in my pew, remembering Father Tom and Deacon Watkins so frail pre-pandemic. So much has happened and they are no longer with us. Times have changed. The new priest, like the ones of my past explained the meaning of Lent…about how this is the season of preparation for the believer—through prayer, penitence, alms-giving, and self-denial…for the next 6 weeks until Easter.
I scanned the room, assessing what each person might struggle with. Perhaps some were giving up alcohol, or maybe drugs, sex… or some behavior or thought they were agonizing over.
I recall when I would give up this, that… or the other… and make it for just a few days before succumbing to my food addiction.
As far back as a small child, I was giving up candy for Lent. And even then I couldn’t string but a few days together before diving into some gooey treat. I remember mom caught me with an enormous bag of candies I had bought from The Penny’s Store down the street only a few days after giving up sweets as part of my penance.
Mom was furious and put the bag in the third drawer of the dresser in her bedroom. The same bedroom and dresser I found the cough medicine with a terrifying picture of a skull on the back side reading: Poison! Although the picture was frightening, as I was barely 5 years of age, it did not stop me from guzzling down a good portion of the bottle. It attracted me to the sugary cherry taste. I ended up in the hospital to get my stomach pumped. Already, a little food addict in blossom.
Okay, I digressed… back to the candy in the third drawer in my parent’s bedroom. I would sneak into their room every day to steal a piece (okay, several pieces!) always feeling God was watching and would punish me. I couldn’t stop myself. This “thing” would come over me and I HAD TO HAVE it. I think of it as a runaway train. No way is it going to stop for quite a distance.
I’m an addict, along with so many filling the pews during Lenten season, hoping to promise to God, this time, to abstain.
I racked up years of unsuccessful attempts at giving up sweets for Lent until one year (about 25 years ago) I gave up chocolate, sugar, and white flour for Lent. For real! No cheating. No taking breaks on Sunday. No excuses.
I abstained the entire forty days and forty nights and weekends too! After about the first three days, I felt absolutely fabulous. I was free of cravings, low self-worth disappeared, mood swings corrected, body aches became nonexistent, not to mention weight released.
I dropped several sizes in the weeks of abstinence. And I was at a good weight to begin with, as I had “dieted” off nearly 100 pounds.
I remember driving up to the West Coast of Florida to spend Easter with mom and my then little boy Benjamin, feeling absolutely fantastic, swearing I’d not break my abstinence simply because it was Easter and I now could indulge as the abstinence was complete, according to the church.
This particular Easter Mom had the superb stuff: Cadbury Easter Eggs (dark chocolate). How could I possibly go an Easter without a Cadbury Easter Egg? That was it! I dove in and ate the entire weekend…and went on for quite a few years before giving up the sugar, flour, and wheat for good.
I realized last week in church how I’ve come a long way from those many Lenten seasons of the past. As I sat in the pew wondering who had eaten what, or drugged with their last drug, or smoked their last cigarette, I smiled within and thanked God that I no longer had to sit with a clenched jaw thinking about what “substance” I had to give up; but was grateful for how far I have come, able to let go of the sugar, flour, and wheat, not just for the Lenten season but for years and years.
And I’ve been able to help many others do the same through self-hypnosis and psychotherapy. I recognize my growth and witnessed their positive changes as well.
Last week I left the church feeling strong and healthy and good about myself. As I made my way back to my car, nodding at others while they were responding with huge smiles. It seemed their smiles were extra toothy. I pondered to myself on how kind their nods were and extra big smiles they so generously gave. That is, until I got into the car to examine my ashes on my forehead and realized Father had “got” me again! Every year the priest seems to put the biggest, darkest cross of ashes on my forehead, almost taking up the entire space. I guess the mark is to humble me and wake me from my snug place.
Do you suffer from an addiction? Are you feeling lost and alone? Or, perhaps you are in recovery and would like to share your journey.
Thank you for spending time with me and my thoughts. I hope my words lit your excitement to become your best self for you and to push through your fears.
I’m excited to share my newest book with you on how to Release Your obsession with Your PHONE. God bless you and your journey through this life and all that awaits beyond.
Thank you for being a part of the reading blog forum of this blog. If you have something you’d like to say, I’d love to hear it. YOU are important and your words need to be heard. I’m here for you.
Stay tuned. You never know where my mind will wander…