The Magic of 40 Days, What’s Up With That?

 Coaching Contemporary Mystics is a series of blogs I am writing as an invitation to you:  be my “companion on the  journey”, the journey of living in a new skin for these times, the skin of your own mystical nature.  It starts here with myself and with you!

40 days

“What nine months does for the embryo

Forty early mornings

Will do for your growing awareness.”  (Rumi)

40 days is a span of time that runs through many traditions.  It is seen as having a power that helps us change during transition times; a useful tool to support our efforts. You don’t need to believe it, just use it!

“In mystic thought, forty symbolizes the ascent from one level to a higher one, a spiritual awakening.”

It is also said that setting an intention and actively doing it for 40 days is what the subconscious requires to create a new behavior, a new practice in one’s life.

“Everything will be different at the end of 40 days, because you will be different inside.” (Elif Shafak)

In my research, I found countless references to 40 days as an important marking of time, no matter the culture. For those who pay attention and integrate mystical knowledge into their lives, we find certain practices:  it is important to mourn for 40 days, when a baby is born, it takes 40 days to ready itself for life on earth, when in love, we wait 40 days to be sure of our feelings. Biblical references abound: Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert, Moses hung out on Mt. Sinai for 40 days, Buddha meditated under the linden/ bodhi tree for 40 days, and Muhammed was 40 years of age when he received the call to become a prophet. Egyptian alchemy believed it takes 40 days for the soul to be free of the physical body.  Such references go on and on…( befriend google to investigate further if you are a number junkie!)

Suffice it to say that so many diverse traditions must be on to something and… the intuitive in you senses there is power and shift in this “vow of 40 days”.

So, I have taken the 40 day challenge.  I am treating it as an experiment; curiosity and letting go of expectations are great helps!  Of course, this requires nearly moment by moment practice.

For 40 days, I am turning my life over to a wisdom and guidance greater than myself and believe me, this is giving my everyday ego a real workout as I continuously side step its advice and frantic warnings that such a lack of  “me-directed” control can only end in mayhem or worse!

 I mark each day in my journal:  “Day 5 of my 40 day vow” and so on.  I reiterate what my vow is and I go over the stickiest most difficult events or feelings that I wanted to side step, pole vault over, actually, or fix with a story that would make me feel better.

Case in point:  I submitted a children’s story to a competition (hate the word, but……).  My story was not picked.  I felt sad, disappointed, and poised to tell myself all the self-defeating stories that live in my repertoire of “let’s get Morgana” mind!

My 40 day vow, however, had created enough awareness that I could not allow myself to go there.  I had to shift to trust, I had to shift to turning it over, I had to shift to making up no stories to soothe my disappointment.

Next, I would make note in my journal of  the many times during the day that I would need to just breathe and exhale imperfect trust and the times I would rant out loud only to remember that here was yet another opportunity to “turn it over to a wisdom and guidance greater than my ego self.”

I cannot offer you any forgone conclusions about this practice, but I can say I feel more engaged and present in my day doing this.

I feel that I have tapped into a “current” that directs my willy nilly mind into something more in tune with well being.  My body likes the feelings of relief,  not needing to be the manager and ultimate knower of everything and my curious nature likes the “what next” of the 40 day adventure.

I encourage you to find your first 40 day vow and use it as a way of deepening your relationship with intentionality,  learning to shape your own intentional life.

The new normal is about flow and ease, so perfection has no place here.  This is not about doing 40 days perfectly–you fall off and then you continue, you fall off and then continue!

You are building muscle. I think you will notice that one 40 day vow will lead to another as you experience the purposeful feeling such a practice provides.

Join me?  The lights on for you!

the Lights On for You!

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