I like running for many reasons. In theory it makes me skinnier (or at least justifies the ice cream and beer), makes me feel like I accomplished something, and helps me fit in a good calorie burn in a short amount of time. It also clears my head. Some of my best writing happens as I am chugging down the road. Of course since I am running and have no pen and paper, you will never get a chance to read those wonderful insightful posts or novels. Because they are all in my head and disappear as soon as I start to stretch.
But today, I really focused. I felt like I had a good insight that I didn’t want to let go of. I have been experimenting with creating more space in my life. And then the relationship between my physical and spiritual life meshed together beautifully.
It comes down to strength training. As a runner, I run. Occasionally I bike, swim or walk, but none of them satisfy me the way that running does. About 2 months ago during a race, I felt the consequences of that quite acutely. My plantar fasciitis acted up and has plagued me since. I had to stop running. And in the process I have found the space to become stronger.
It isn’t through more running, it isn’t through harder activity. It is through the quiet small building blocks of strength training. And now, two months after I had to stop running, I am back on my feet. Stronger, calmer, and more in tune with my body.
Sometimes the biggest changes in our life come from the small things. That pain in my hip, gone. Thanks to hip extensions. The pain in my foot, alleviated by calf raises. The constant neck strain, loosened by supermans. Running is good for me. Only running, breaks me down.
Just like life.
If I am constantly on the go, I start to feel it. My temper is short, my anxiety rises, my unhappiness quotient explodes. But when I take time each day to be still, to be calm, to be alone the rest of my life benefits. And when I allow myself space to be quiet then my spiritual life takes off. Prayer becomes focus, bible study becomes stronger, worship becomes more meaningful. I can’t do any of those things, if I don’t first learn how to sit.
Being still is the strength training of our inner life.
As I ran today at the gym, I thought about how adding two sessions of weights to my week has improved my physical life. I am a stronger runner. I can go out faster and longer. All because I slowed down.
It never ceases to amaze me how little things have big results. Just like those small isometric core exercises I do. All I am doing is trying to keep my elbows to my knees. For 45 seconds while the trainer moves me around. And that is what I need in my spiritual life. 45 seconds of quiet to build the strength to get me through the big stuff.
It is hard being still. Besides the distractions of life with 3 kids, I struggle shutting down my brain and just. be. still. But I am going to keep practicing. Just like those core exercises, I now realize the quiet space, is the building blocks for a richer life.