The Spiritual Workout - what does it mean?
"Spiritual Workout" is a phrase I came up with for myself during my Lenten journey this past year.
In today's society, we hear so much about eating right and exercising to stay healthy. I am not a health professional, but I believe the latest recommendation is to get 30 minutes of exercise about 3-4 times a week. The question is - do we stick to this routine to keep our bodies at their healthiest? The answer, at least for me, would be a resounding "not at all". All of this talk in our culture about maintaining healthy bodies is a good thing - we are, after all, created in God's image, so our bodies are an essential part of our existence as human beings. While I tend to limit my physical workout to walking to the bus stop and up the stairs, it is something I think I should incorporate more into my daily routine.
This got me thinking during Lent. We spend so much time thinking about how we are going to improve our physical image, but how much time do we spend each day thinking about improving our spiritual lives? What if we spent as much time thinking about our spirits as we did our bodies? If we spent 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week, cultivating our spiritual relationship with God, how much healthier would we be spiritually? What would the world be like if we all blocked out a "workout" time for our spirits through meditation and prayer? I can't imagine that there are many people out there, even non-believers, who wouldn't agree that the world would be a more peaceful and compassionate place to exist if we all took some time to search our souls for the Truth.
As I contemplated this, I decided it was time to make a change. So, I decided to give myself a spiritual workout during Holy Week, just to give it a try. I attended Mass every day that week (with the exception of Good Friday service, which is not celebrated as a Mass). Before Mass each day, I spent about 10-15 minutes in quiet prayer. I started off not really knowing for what or whom to pray, so I often just read the morning prayers in the Magnificat. That week, I also meditated on some of my "religious reads" each evening instead of spending all of my free time watching television or surfing the internet. All in all, I came out of that week completely rejuvenated and refreshed, not only spiritually, but mentally and physically as well. I felt GOOD.
I decided that this was a change I needed to try to make in my everyday life - not just during Holy Week. While I have had some weeks that are more successful than others, I can say that I attend Mass more often, usually 3-6 times a week. I spend more time in prayer, whether it is before Mass, at Eucharistic Adoration, on the metro, or as I fall asleep at night. I have found more fulfillment as I spend more time in my aerobic workout with talking to God.
I had been wanting to start a blog since I moved out on my own, and I decided that reflecting on my spiritual journey would help me continue on my spiritual workout. I hope to write about things that I have discovered and learned on my journey, as well as ideas for how to improve each of our individual spiritual workouts. I know that I will also include topics dealing with my daily struggles and triumphs with being a young, Catholic woman trying to figure out her calling in life in this big city. Let's face it, trying to adjust to a new place and new life can be an intense strain on the soul.
I hope you join me for this spiritual workout, and I would love to hear your suggestions of how you can incorporate a few minutes of spiritual exercise to your daily routine. Who knows, maybe learning to cultivate the spirit will even inspire me to cultivate the body as well!