Exercise Your Soul
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” – Psalm 104:34
Several spine conditions and chronic back pain have kept me from exercising regularly. I've tried everything to decrease the pain; including chiropractors, physical therapy, injections, nerve block shots, and more. Because of that, it took me 13 years and 5 different physical therapists to understand that exercise is my friend, not the enemy.
It became abundantly clear that improved health comes from better habits. Though I have not always been the model for healthy living, I do recognize that God wants us to create good habits to honor Him.
When I gave up smoking, I did it for the Lord and it was the only successful method of quitting. I replaced this unhealthy habit with exercise and other lifestyle changes. I began to understand that my body is a temple and it was time to start treating it like one.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Exercise was an uphill battle that I could not face alone. During workouts, my body continued to remind me that I have back pain and giving up seemed to be the easiest solution. I was frustrated with my body for not taking away my ability to exercise successfully.
So I quit. The back pain won. I was defeated.
“I can’t do this. Maybe I’m not meant to be a runner,” I thought, “it’s just never going to happen for me.”
I talked with my husband and also my good friend, Amy, about how I was struggling. They helped me realize that, though the pain was strong, it was important to exercise. When I reflected on my attitude, I realized there were 3 words that I needed to abandon from my vocabulary… “No”, “Can’t” and “Never”.
Amy is a soon-to-be certified yoga instructor and encouraged me to try daily meditation (not to be confused with yoga and meditation from Eastern religion). Meditating is a way to close off distractions of the outside world and connect your soul with the Lord. I knew it was important to add meditation to my workouts.
Prior to exercise, I spend at least 10 minutes stretching and now include 10 to 15 minutes of meditation and prayer. This technique lets my body and mind to relax. It allows my mind to reflect on the Lord and focus on Him alone.
My view on exercise has changed after including meditation and prayer. During my workouts, I call upon the Lord to help me get through it and push through the pain. Without this, I may not have deepened my understanding for how God wants us to always rely on Him. When we call on Him during times of trouble throughout the day, we can trust that He will answer.
If you are like me and struggle through workouts or would just like to try adding meditation to your workout routine, here are some tips from Amy and myself:
- Begin by selecting a scripture to recite in your mind.
- Don't forget to stretch. Stretching allows your body to sit comfortably for an extended period of time.
- Choose a song or relaxing music if it helps to concentrate or clear your mind.
- Practice breathing exercises as you close your eyes and concentrate. Take several full deep breaths in through the nose and exhale out the mouth.
- Sit against a wall for stability or begin by lying flat on a yoga mat for comfort.
- Be patient. It may take you several times to reach a point of complete relaxation.
- Focus on God and His love for you.
With exercise and meditation through God’s Word, we can utilize a natural method of relaxation. I am not a pro at meditation, but I’ve certainly found it helpful for healthy living with my dependence on God alone.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; the will run and not grow weary, they will walk not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31
Mara Rose is an up-and-coming author and Christian writer. She has endured years of chronic pain and strives to be a light for Jesus even on the darkest days. Mara works full-time, specializing in web content and marketing, but understands the exhausting process of finding the right job. Through the trials of life and career, she hopes to offer relational insight and encouragement. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Jonathan, whom serves in the military and is an OIF Veteran. You can read more from Mara on her blog, wordsbymara.com, or on Twitter @MsMaraRose.