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Five restful disciplines for Lent

Get more sleep: Your energy level and overall Lenten perspective will begin to change when you commit to getting more sleep. Practice going to bed 30 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime. Or, if you're guilty of hitting snooze repeatedly, set your alarm for a realistic time so you can capture more uninterrupted Zs.

Read about rest: Consider a book about meditation, prayer or slowing down. Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr (Sorin Books 2008) is a wonderful read for anyone who wants to learn to bring balance to their frenetic days. Practice this monastic tradition of pausing at key points during the day to pray, breathe and live in tune with the spirit of each hour.

Practice saying no: It might feel difficult to refrain from taking on more responsibility in life, especially when called upon to do something you believe in. But for six weeks make a commitment to refrain from adding anything new to your life, citing religious reasons if needed.

Forgive yourself: Sometimes it's the internal voices of doubt, shame and self-judgment that fuel our rat races. Practice being easy with yourself. Memorize Jesus' invitation to the weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28) or a verse on forgiveness — repeat it often.

Give lay leaders a break: Change up your church programming during Lent so youth leaders, Sunday school teachers or other key assistants can take a much needed hiatus. Offer a slower paced curriculum for youth that is creative, refreshing and in the spirit of the Lenten season. Or seek out substitute help for a handful of leaders who seem burned out and in need of time to reflect, relax and rejuvenate.


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