Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.

Mardi Gras is tomorrow, and you know what that means: Lent is just around the corner.

Growing up a preacher's kid, Lent meant business. Lent meant paying attention. Lent meant Pops was at church for a more reflective, inward-driven TaizĂ© service on Wednesday evenings. And it usually meant trying to take on some sort of conscious discipline — maybe, say, giving up sweets or forgoing hitting the snooze button or resisting some other usual daily indulgence.

I was always good — often boringly good — at self-discipline, and so as a kid, the same part of me that now adores the tapasic aspects of asana practice — the heat, the challenge, the intensity — loved the struggle and the effort and the consciousness of 40 days of reflection. I always knew that at the end of those 40 days, anyway, awaited an Easter Sunday full of rich chocolates and sunshine and tulips and spring just around the bend.

But Lent? Lent meant dark. Lent meant February, meant winter on the Plains, meant cold and bitter and yin and quiet. And I dug it. (Still do.)

This in mind, given that Ash Wednesday, the kick-off to Lent, is just two days away, when my sweet friend Simone suggested that we do this Chopra Center Meditation Challenge together, I knew the timing was perfect. I've been wanting to get more committed to my seated meditation practice, and while I long ago lost interest in self-punitive, restrictive-style discipline (life's too short to give up vodka and chocolate, baby!), I still do love the idea of setting a mindful tone for the Lenten season with a new practice.

Social behavioral experts note that any new habit takes about 21 days to really set in, to become a natural, intuitive, long-term lifestyle change. So the Chopra Center Meditation Challenge takes that into consideration, crafting this easy guided 21-day meditation practice by landing a new guided practice in your inbox every day. Shazaaam. Done. Nothing you need to do, nowhere you need to be. Just sit down in front of your computer for a few chosen minutes every day and watch your world slow down.

Join us, won't you? The challenge officially starts today, Monday February 20th, so there's no better time to jump right in. Doing it collectively adds that little bit of juice to make sticking with your practice just that much easier. And for fast-moving folks like me who struggle a bit to sit still in the midst of everyday going and doing, it's a great way to, little by little, lay down the grooves for a new habit.

See you on the cushion. I'll be the fidgety one in the corner.


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