Fitness IS a Spiritual Practice

Mavens (2018) defines spiritual practice:

A daily spiritual practice refers to any ritual that we perform each day to nur­ture our deep inner being. A spiritual practice quiets the mind and brings us into a state of peace or harmony with ourselves. A spiritual practice can take many forms—but it is not the form that matters so much as the intent. In fact, a spiritual practice does not even need to be explicitly spiritual to be effective. It simply needs to be something that helps you turn inward and connect with your own truth and purpose.

You do not need to be religious or even spiritual to benefit from develop­ing a spiritual practice. A daily spiritual practice is not about dogma or wor­ship; it is about tuning in to your own sense of spirit.

Life is multi-faceted…it would be difficult, if not impossible, to disconnect the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of life.  There is a relationship of these elements that permeate and integrate with living. For me, physical exercise is a form of spiritual practice that is the catalyst bringing these aspects together. In my blog, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul, and my three-part series on Well-Being: Self Exploration I describe how my running is more than just the physical action of putting one foot in front of the other. Bringing the body and mind together is a form of spiritual practice.

“The older I get, the more I realize there is more to these activities than just the competitiveness I found in the past.  
Improving and enhancing body, mind, and spirit
result from my physical activity.”

“I savor the peacefulness of a light rain and the solitude of my run. 
I have always been grateful for my runs (good, bad, or indifferent).
I have learned through this experience is to be more aware
of the meaning my day-to-day activities.
This awareness will have an influence on uplifting my well-being.”

Movement can be a way to focus on our well-being.  Think about it…exercise is like cross training for life.  The physical aspect of movement is just one of the many outcomes. Movement improves thinking, perspective, and purpose.  When you move you become physically and emotionally healthier. The more you move the more you confident and capable you become.

Scott-Dixon (Precision Nutrition)

Dupue (n.d.) provides reasons why he believes fitness is a form of spiritual practice.

  • You use it for greater happiness and fulfillment.
  • You use your workouts as a time to reflect.
  • You face yourself and grow in more ways than physical.
  • You test your will.
  • Your heart is engaged.
  • You expand your comfort zone.
  • You change your karma.
  • You release emotion and energy.
  • You take a moment a breathe.
  • Your mind quiets down, and you are present.
  • You have mental or emotional breakthroughs.

Here are a few examples of how fitness can be a spiritual practice…you may already engage in some of these suggestions. These rituals, relationships, and reflections through movement, exercise, fitness, working out to enhance your personal growth, your purpose, your engagement in life with self and others.

  • Listen to inspirational music
  • Listen to a book or podcast
  • Listen to the sounds of nature 
  • Mindfully notice your surroundings
  • Mindfully notice how your body feels as it moves
  • Participate with others to stay connected
  • Reflect on what you are grateful for
  • Savor the experience as it is happening and afterwards

Spiritual Wellness: Our Beliefs & Our Values

Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently.   We can express our belief in the principles of Christmas in many ways.  No matter how you celebrate you deserve to share happiness of the season.  I wish everyone health and happiness as you wrap up 2019 and move forward to 2020. For my holiday blog, I share some thoughts on spiritual wellness.

We commonly define spiritual wellness as obtaining meaning and purpose in life.  Zippo (2010) provides a framework for a wellness journey by stating: 

Wellness encompasses a balance of the multidimensional journey
that each of us takes at one time or another.

Each of our journeys is unique and different.  
We all strive to succeed as individuals
who create our own paths in life.

Overall wellness, integration of body, mind, and spirit, is an intricate personal journey leading to an enhanced quality of life.  Spiritual wellness depends on our beliefs and values.  How each of us answer questions such as those below will guide this journey.

**Is my life purposeful?
**Is my spiritual growth defined and expanding?
**Do I show trust with others and am I able to forgive?
**Are my values and actions consistently presented?
**Am I grateful and open to others’ beliefs & values?

A willingness to be inquisitive and curious as you explore your spiritual essence contributes to overall wellness, personal growth, and development.  The goal is harmony between self, others, and the world. Finding ways to “practice” or apply your spiritual beliefs and values may contribute to your overall wellness; it may also improve the lives of those around you.  The National Wellness Institute describes the spiritual connection of self and others.  It is better to:

ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.

live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Putting your spiritual growth into practice may include:

**making social contributions
**fellowship experiences with others lead to optimism and belonging
**expressing compassion and forgiveness

So what is spirituality?  American Nurse Today 2018 blog answers this question.

It’s about what inspires you, what gives you hope, and what you feel strongly about.

Your spirit is the seat of your deepest values and character. Whether or not you practice a religion, you can recognize that a part of you exists beyond the analytical thinking of your intellect; it’s the part of you that feels, makes value judgments, and ponders your connection to others, to your moral values, and to the world.

For this reason, spirituality frequently is discussed in terms of a search. Spiritual wellness is a continuing journey of seeking out answers and connections and seeing things in new ways. It also means finding your purpose in life and staying aligned with it.

How do you define spiritual wellness?

How can that definition find expression in a meaningful practice?

How can you incorporate that practice into your life?

How can you use that practice to help you with the everyday stresses and anxieties?

Listen with your heart and
live by your principles.

Be Open: Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

Many people act as though the future is something that happens to them rather than something that you can create every day. Have you thought about what inspires you? It is interesting to consider that inspiration comes from everywhere if you are open to the possibilities.

The definition of INSPIRE is: 

**to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

** to create (a feeling, especially a positive one) in a person.

Merriam Webster provides the word history of inspire.

This moving little word may be traced back to the Latin inspirare (“to breathe or blow into”), which itself is from the word spirare, meaning “to breathe.” It didn’t take long to establish itself in a figurative sense, as our earliest written English uses of inspire give it the meaning “to influence, move, or guide (as to speech or action) through divine or supernatural agency or power.” Many of the early figurative senses of inspire are religious in nature, so it is not surprising to learn that the word shares a connection with spirit (which comes from the Latin word for “breath,” spiritus, which is also from spirare).

I am not a church going person BUT that does not mean I am not open to inspiration, support and guidance found from living my day-to-day life. Inspiration, for me, comes from everywhere.

I subscribe to a couple reading listservs. I receive a daily email with descriptions of suggested books in categories I self-selected.  Recently a book series was profiled, published by Guideposts.  Guideposts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the world to believe that anything is possible with hope, faith, and prayer. Their programs extend to writing workshops and encouraging wellness.  I didn’t know Guideposts published fiction so I read the profile and decided to get the first book in the series.

I ordered the book through interlibrary loan.  It is not “blog-worthy” news that I ran an errand to get my book last week…however…what I found in the book is quite inspirational and something I would like to share.

Inside the front cover of the book were two pieces of paper.  Someone (or maybe more than one person) typed the content on the pages on two different typewriters.  Also, I could see there were pin holes in the corners of each page. Someone had tacked these pages to a bulletin board or wall.

Guardian Tree Productions blog shares several articles on responsible living. One article, Finding Guidance in Your Life, connects to the ideas shared in my blog this week.  I believe that being open to inspiration that comes from everywhere is a key factor to finding your path in life.

Guardian Tree states, “The key to finding guidance in your life is to start being responsible for your own growth.”