“Giving up for good” is a play on words. I don’t mean throw in the towel. I mean instead of giving up something indulgent and feeling deprived–what if we give up something that causes suffering in ourselves and those around us?

Kiki Wiley

Lent takes place during the forty (non-sabbath) days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Come lent we hear the question “what are you giving up for lent”  and many respond with indulgences like chocolate, coffee, wine, video gaming, or social media. This year I decided to give up saying the word “should.”

I am transitioning to a new chapter in my life. From a mom juggling the demands of a career and raising children to an empty nester teaching, consulting, and writing on my own schedule. There is a voice in my head constantly interrupting my creative process with things I “should” be doing instead. I also catch myself thinking about how things “should” be different in the world, telling people what they “should” do (and seriously nobody want to hear that).

So for Lent, I wrote the word should on a piece of paper and ceremonially burned it. A friend suggested I try replacing “should” with “could”, she said should is shaming while could is creative. I find the shift to be freeing. 

We see the idea of committing to something for forty days coming up in ancient Jewish (Noah in the Arc), Christian (Jesus in the Desert), Hindu (Mandala Puja), and Islamic (Musa on the Mountain) traditions. Our ancient ancestors may have been onto something as research has shown that 40 days of meditation creates positive neurological change.

I am opting for a 40-day Kundalini sadhana practice, where I will practice a Kriya meditation (usually a combination of mudra and mantra) for a few minutes each day to shift my perspective. I’ve chosen one called Balancing Projection with Intention. My intention is that giving “should” up for forty days will pave a path to giving up “shoulding” for good. 

BTW, when you include the Sabbath days, the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is 46 days so you still have time to get in your 40 days of “giving up for good” before Easter.