The moment we make a decision we impact both the moment we are in and our future selves. It is so simple it is hardly worth mentioning. And yet too often I can find myself ignoring this truth. Maybe you can relate. The decision to eat an apple or carrot rather than a pie or cake ripples forward. The decision is mine to make for me and for future me.
I find this empowering.
It means that I can look at the moment I am in and both recognize and benefit from decisions in the past and thus be motivated to make decisions with the longer term in mind even if the past decision was wrong and is now holding me back.
In financial matters we consider compound interest and marvel at the extent to which differed spending can lead to far greater spending (and generosity???) as math does what math does. Again, if we have mr or mrs spendypants and have little to show for it maybe we learn our lesson upon reflection.
I believe that the incarnation of Jesus, the Divine made Flesh, teaches us that our bodies matter and thus our decisions regarding what we put in them and what we do with them matter as well.
I believe the concept that we are made in God’s very image elevates our bodies to an importance and dignity we rarely give them.
I believe the promise of resurrection and the bodily nature of the resurrected Christ teaches us that our bodies matter.
The mind and soul are not disconnected from the body by my understanding of the bible.
This need not be a call to being and Ironman or olympian, I am neither and don’t plan to be. It is, however, a call to recognize that how we treat our bodies matters and can be an important element of faithful living. Just because it might be hard doesn’t mean it isn’t true or that we should ignore it.
Of course there are certain historic spiritual disciplines that touch healthy living and recognize us as embodied people that we might consider (fasting, pilgrimages, etc.). We may make them part of our journey at some point; and likely one day there will be posts about them.
There is also this (and I didn’t come up with it but am paraphrasing based on memory some of Roger Joslin’s work): historically spiritual seekers would set aside time to be still and come to God. Joslin argues something I think intuitively sounds correct, namely, that in the past manual labour was par for the course and sitting still was the exception. What this meant for spiritual practice is that one trained the mind to connect the exceptional (stillness) with “time for God.” Today, for many of us, stillness is more standard and movement more rare. The upshot? There is a potential to train our mind-body relationship in the opposite direction, when we walk, run, swim etc, we pray, meditate, come before God. We teach our bodies and minds to work together in the creating of thin places (where the divide between the heavenly and the earthy seems to narrow).
I suspect at least part of why this works so well is that, as sages past have always said, focusing on the breath is helpful and when we do these activities our breath becomes more important, more noticeable.
My invitation to you is simply this: if you have been struggling to pray or meditate lately, consider doing so while walking. I suggest finding a safe place to walk, with minimal distractions (and more importantly, distracted drivers). Before you leave your house simply pause and dedicate this time to God and commit to focusing your attention on God or breathing or a biblical word or phrase. As you go and your mind wanders (as it will), gently return your thoughts to God/breath/scripture. If it feels right, when you get home write down any insights or prayers you would like to remember.