The forty days and nights of Lent are about simplification, purification, getting priorities reestablished and remembering that God, not my ego, is the center of reality. Whatever discipline you take up for Lent (giving up sweets or alcohol, doing spiritual reading, spending more time with your loved ones, helping someone in need) it is about this—simplification and purification. The ancient word for this discipline was ascesis and it was used as a metaphor from the training exercises of athletes. Lent is a time for spiritual ascesis or exercise, shedding some unnecessary mental fat, toning the muscles of attention and patience.
— from the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent by Laurence Freeman, OSB