Friday, February 18, 2011

Spiritual Fitness

Have you heard of "BOD4GOD"? I encountered this word-phrase last week in an article about The Journey church. It describes a program that uses "spiritual" principles for weight loss and exercise.

Although the article didn't go into detail as to what these spiritual principles are, I think the idea of connecting physical and spiritual fitness has some merit. I would also add emotional/mental fitness into the mix.

There is an intimate connection between body, mind and spirit. When one of these three is out of shape or damaged, it can affect the other two. For example, depression doesn't only affect the emotions, it affects the body and the soul. When we're down, we don't eat well and exercise is difficult. Depression also saps our spiritual energy as well.

When it comes to exercise, we need to apply it to our minds and souls as well as our physical selves. St. Ignatius developed several spiritual exercises, including prayer, reflection, imaginative reading of scripture and others. Keeping our minds active and growing can be done with reading, crosswords, problem-solving and writing.

I believe that to exercise any one dimension of our self has benefits for the others. To get physically fit gives us more mental and spiritual energy. What I call "active spirituality" encourages us to look at spiritual practices that involve motion and movement such as walking, hiking, fishing, cycling and so on. Spiritual fitness is interconnected with physical and mental/emotional fitness.

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