Disclaimer – I do not have a daughter, but back on August 2, I posted this article on Facebook (see link) and a friend questioned me about it because she felt it lacked the spiritual component I so often share on Facebook, so I responded to her by email about what I saw spiritually from this piece. She suggested I share on Facebook so I did and I decided to share here too and this is the take away I sent her with some edits.
My Take Away:
First, the author wrote this: “…when it comes to exercise, I want her to grow up seeing it as a joy, and not a utility…as a gift, and not a chore…as an opportunity, not an obligation. I want her to do it for the love of it, not to fit into a dress.”
Yes, we start from God and that is the most important place to start! However, we do live in a word that focuses much on the body and how it looks in a dress. In this line, she is rebelling against that standard, she is wanting to show that exercise, or movement – whether to me, it is dance, lifting, hiking, skiing, whatever activity one chooses is joy – it is a gift from God to move, to live freely. Sometimes I do wish I had more “exercise,” as this author refers to it, or simply activity when I was growing up. I’ve reached a place where I enjoy it and that is God’s gift to me – a way to express Life.
1. Strength = self-sufficiency – yes, she uses the scenario of carrying one’s own luggage, but I look at the title of that section – Strength – where do we get it – from God – is being able to live Life without anyone else humanly. I think it is important for women to know they are strong – spiritually and physically. I see a number of women in the gym who don’t think they are strong and yet, my complete reliance on God tells me we each are strong and can do all things God gives us to do!
2. Fit Opens Doors – She’s talking to me about opening the doors to the world. Fitness starts with God, but to be honest and speaking from experience, it does open the door to the world. For the past 6 years or so, the doors have been closed to me to see the world. Why, you might ask? Well, first I was struggling to be spiritually fit, but also, physically fit – when one isn’t physically fit, one can’t ride bikes for any length of time, one can’t even fly in a plane if they are being considerate to the person that would have to sit next to them when they overflow the seat, one probably won’t be invited to go on hikes because their pace is so slow and quite honestly, society thinks larger people are not fit and unable to do many things. So, the author uses physical examples and doesn’t bring in God, but her point of being fit extends, to me, beyond physicality which is how I took it and read it!
3. The bike is the new golf course – she makes a good point and it is commonly true, but more importantly, one’s ability to network does extend beyond the office doors – my being willing to immerse myself in a form of movement I love is helping me make connections with people who are bringing me closer to securing a new career position – networking is opening up because people see me and get to know the good and spiritual person I am and thus they share with me, encourage me, and make space for me and they can look beyond my size and see me for the fit person I am, that I’m more than the body.
4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event – okay, so I’d re-label this – Activity, Movement is a lifestyle, and to be honest, it is and it is a lifestyle Mary Baker Eddy (MBE) embraced. She embraced always being active. The Christian Science Practitioner friend, who shared the article first, has said she often compares her 1 hour of aqua workouts per day to MBE’s one hour carriage ride every day. It’s an hour to be out – to be active and involved and seeing people for the ideas they are. I guess you could say, I have been given the opportunity to see a lot of wonderful ideas of God at the dance studio and I sometimes verbally and always silently have the opportunity to encourage and support spiritually others in embracing activity and movement. It doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill or biking – it can be dance, a walk in the park, a hike, going skiing – but something that lets us move with joy, grace, agility, flexibility, energy which first we accept in thought as possible because they come from God.
5. Health begets health – On both levels – it is true – both physically and spiritually and there is nothing wrong with taking care of the body we have in this plane of our journey. It’s just a body, but it’s good to take care of it. We don’t ignore it – we love it and cherish it for the ways it allows us to express God, to express the true health of our being which comes from God.
6. Endorphins help you cope – okay, she’s completely physical on this one, and yet, don’t the spiritual highs we exercise daily lift us and allow us to come out from the doldrums? And can’t movement we do, while praying along the way, help us do that too? I find myself often praying while dancing or lifting, etc. and whatever was bothering me falls away, melts into its native nothingness if you will. I know that came through the prayer, but the physical felt good to be doing too.
7. Working out signals hard-working – I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is a well-known societal belief. Is it true? Not necessarily. A lot of people can work out and not be hard-working in the office or school, but there are also a lot of people who don’t work out and are more hard-working than others. For me, working out is working out thought which translates into movement and activity and when we work out thought spiritually, we are more apt to move our bodies more to express all God is and how he made us! He made man to move!
8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful – this is very true – when we feel beautiful, which starts with our thought, it manifests itself on the outside. So often the saying is when we love ourselves, others will be attracted to us and love us. People know when we aren’t loving ourselves and they see it, feel it and it makes it hard for them too. Yes, physically speaking, feeling strong and fit feels beautiful – there are days when I feel more beautiful when I am dancing or boxing, so much I forget what the body looks like, but the inner glow radiates forth because I am feeling that way on the inside.
9. Nature rules – it’s true you will see more of the world – like in point #2, if you can move with more ease. I do very strongly believe movement starts with prayer and seeing our ability in God moves us, but it helps if the body is a pure representation of the thought. I’m still working on that one! There is much I would love to do – zipline, parachute, etc., but because of my weight, I cannot because there are limits, so living a spiritually and physically fit life go hand-in-hand.
10. Little eyes are always watching – not only the physical stuff, but the spiritual also. Take me – I certainly embraced and live Christian Science – picked that up from mom first and then made it my own. Physical stuff wasn’t so apparent in my home growing up – is that to say that is why it has taken me so long to embrace an active lifestyle, no, not necessarily, and yet I do think children pick up a lot from what they see, so starting with prayer and love is the best thing and being active is also a good thing. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym and being a gym-rat, but it is about moving and doing and not just channel surfing. There are of course times when channel surfing is okay, but not all the time!
This article to me is helping people move thought from off the body to the bigger gift of just enjoying movement and activity in life without being overly metaphysically.