By Kathy Ryndak and Gord Riddell
In spite of our annual winter fear that summer will never come again, we finally can embrace her arrival once more. As the weather steadily improves and we move out of doors to appreciate our summer we also have an increased level of physical activity. For most it is a reminder of just how sedentary we have been all winter as the muscle aches and pains plus perhaps those extra few pounds we have accumulated make us very aware of our body.
So, summer becomes a friendly reminder about our level of activity and fitness. We look at our diet and how we are eating. Many, once again, go back to workout schedules to get our bodies back in shape. We work throughout the summer getting our bodies fit enough in preparation for the great Canadian hibernation, where we will once again sit the winter out waiting for those first warm days to lift our spirits.
Not Just Physical Fitness
We thought this might be a good time to look beyond just the physical component of fitness and see the bigger picture as to how we might take care of our Spirit as part of the big picture. The nice thing about some of these ideas will be, they are good for the body, mind and spirit. What better work outs can there be. As with all activities the more you do them the more benefit you derive form them as well as the more easy they become to do without it being a big deal.
Here are some Spiritual Fitness ideas for you to explore or once again include into your daily routines:
- Meditation- The cornerstone of all fitness programs is the age old practice of meditation. You need no equipment, nor special clothing just the desire to close your eyes, relax your body and breathe. Try doing it outside at this time of the year under a tree, by a stream, basically, anywhere that you personally find conducive to relaxing. The nice thing about being out of doors is it will help to connect us back to nature, something we loose during our indoors' existence of winter. Let your senses experience the sights, sounds and smells of your surrounding and the healing effect it can have on us. Silence of self when combined with natural sounds reaches right into the soul.
- Walking- The most complete fitness activity encompassing every level. It is important though to let your mind relax, stop thinking and start breathing. This can also be thought of as a walking meditation but keep your eyes open! Let your mind wander; don't use this time to sort out the problems of the world. Allow yourself inner silence while in motion. It is very conducive to connecting your mind, body and spirit.
- Gardening- Growing things whether they are in the ground or container gardening on your balcony gives us a strong connection to Nature. To know you are co-creating with Nature by nurturing plants and flowers touches our spirit. The sheer beauty of the summer garden gives our souls a welcome sight. Plus the physical work of planting and upkeep gives us a physical workout. Again though let your self enjoy the experience without whipping up your thought process.
- Have Fun- This may sound ambiguous but most people are much more serious in the winter. Being buried under layers of clothes and shivering is not conducive to being light and airy. Get together with friends, friends who love to laugh not process their problems over dinner all the time. Have a Barbeque, go on picnics or dine at your local patio and laugh a lot.
- Curl up with a book- Let yourself read for the joy of reading. You do not need to be learning at every corner. Find something that is pure fun for you and enjoy. The spirit finds as much nurturing in relaxing as it does when you are doing spiritual growth work. In fact it may be nurtured even more!
The idea of Spiritual Fitness is to give your self a break from all the work we do in personal and spiritual growth and move to lighter activities to recharge ourselves. The key component of only the few ideas in this article is to stop thinking so much. We lose our self in our issues, always processing as though there was some time limit to reach some highly enlightened state. The fact is, life will always be a series of learning and growth challenges that need to be offset by our ability to nurture and care for our self. The trouble with our mind is it loves to keep sloughing away if it is given the chance.
To fully appreciate the lightness of our spirit we need to give it space to be experienced from the inside out. Nothing will cut off and use up our spirit's space more than constant heavy thinking. Learn to find a balance between working out what you need to learn and enjoying your self in the inherent lightness of our spiritual self. Acknowledge your spirit each day and give it room to play and enjoy. It probably isn't having too much fun lost in the issues of the human personality and interactions.
So while summer may make you look at your physical fitness find a place for your spiritual fitness. They go very nicely together.