Becoming open to god

"My will is strong, the wallet is closed. I won't buy anything" – a quote from the movie "Shopaholic". Doing without is not so easy. From the expert's point of view it is worthwhile to persevere.

Preferably, one would always have everything one wants at all times. Who takes the Lent seriously, knows this problem.Alcohol, sweets or electronic continuous sprinkling are taboo: In the Lent before Easter some humans do 40 days without different pleasures. Voluntary, respectively out of religious conviction – or simply out of a fashion.

"You do without in the expectation that it will bring something"

Even if you set limits for yourself during this time, no one has to expect serious consequences if you do not succeed or if the fast is interrupted now and then. So why do people do without in a society where almost all things and services are almost always available?

"The motive is always an expectation of profit. You don't just go without, you have the expectation that it will do something," says psychologist Peter Grob. Many people sit too long in front of the television set or computer. "At some point it dawns on you that doing without might be a good idea, for example on vacation. One could – but one does not have to."

Do I have to do the 50. Buy a pair of shoes for real?

Keyword affluent society: "At some point, the question arises whether I want to eat the 50. pair of shoes really has to buy. Many people realize that would be overdoing it," says the expert. Christian fasting includes the aspect of repentance. "Breaking bad habits also plays a role: reducing everything that is in excess – whether it's television or alcohol consumption."

Again and again it becomes clear that many people practice renunciation during Lent before Easter – but don't have much to do with the church.

"Fasting not only has a spiritual background, but there is also therapeutic fasting. That enjoys increasing popularity in times of plenty," says Grob. "But the spiritual side is still in the back of their minds, in preparation for Easter." He refers to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Not eating anything at all for a day also provides many people with a kind of clarity of thought.

The goal of asceticism: to become open to God

In the Christian context, asceticism is also associated with such clarity. Their means "since time immemorial have been fasting, vigil, prayer, meditation, Scripture reading, silence, manual labor, sleep deprivation, observing thoughts and expressing thoughts and feelings to a spiritual companion," notes the "Dictionary of Theology and the Church.".

The goal of asceticism is always the "free and mature human being" who has found himself and thus "has become open to God". The Benedictine priest and best-selling author Anselm Grun also emphasizes that fasting is connected with inner freedom. It is possible to experience that one is not simply dominated by one's needs, he wrote

Struggling with the passions

But the "Dictionary of Theology and the Church" also points out the dangers of asceticism: it is still often misunderstood in the sense that one does not fight with the passions, but against them. Asceticism can lead to illness, because instincts are repressed.

Whoever thinks of the concept of renunciation today, vegetarians and vegans, for example, come to mind. Or people who try to cheat excessive consumption, and who repair as many things as possible instead of buying them new. Or perhaps those who don't have sex before marriage – for which there is an initiative called "True Love Waits".

Sharing makes "absolute sense"

Sharing is in vogue: for example, cars, gardening tools or transferable season tickets. Related to this is the idea of avoiding a lot of possessions. Someone has no television, another no car. Sharing and giving away things makes "absolute sense," says Grob. "All religions contain the thought: don't live as if you were living alone, but realize that we are a community – with all living beings."

The feeling of taking time off is significant, emphasizes Gross. Many people feel "that it is important to live in the here and now". Psychologically, he says, renunciation is a good exercise of the will: "The body says, give it to me – and I say no. This trains the consciousness."

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Christina Cherry
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