The Spiritual Discipline of…Sweat

“Be diligent in these matters…” – 1 Timothy 4:15

Whenever I work out at the Y I bring a small hand towel (the Y provides some as well but I think for a charge). Within 20 minutes I find myself sweating profusely whether it’s on the elliptical or the treadmill. As disgusting as it is, I love it. I love the feeling of a sweaty workout. Growing up, I was active, I loved the outdoors, running, playing, snowboarding, etc. It came naturally, and it hardly required any thought. These days, it is definitely something that goes by the wayside (you can tell by how bloated my pictures can look depending on the season). Whether it’s because of too many meetings or too much of a headache it’s easy for me to find “good” reasons to skip the workout or the run. But, I think it’s because I have a tendency now to look at it as a separate compartment of my life, something to simply check off the list, and get over with as quickly and mindlessly as possible (this is where the ipod or my phone is essential). It makes sense that I would look at it as a chore…and be so reluctant about it each day. Instead of being a source of enjoyment or pleasure, it’s almost a burden.

“Don’t live to run. Run to live.” The moments I do love it are the moments I realize I need it. It isn’t necessarily just about keeping the weight off or looking a certain way in my photos, but about my interior life, too. There’s something about being active especially after a day of staring at my laptop sitting on my a** for twelve hours…to move, to stretch, to have a different physical feeling. No doubt, there’s all the wonderful incentives of renewed confidence, flexibility, and health benefits, but it makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my body. The point is to include more activity throughout the day, so making space to walk to work is something I’m attempting to do more often (I’m making this my Advent discipline to kick it off), and just getting up from my desk periodically so I can stretch is also helpful. I go easy on myself now and don’t feel obligated to workout four hours a day, and try to vary the activity whether it’s running, biking, snowboarding (still), hiking, etc, and doing things that I enjoy and help me to have a happy mood.

The spiritual discipline of sweat…it’s about relaxing, it’s about being healthy, it’s about playing. Sweat is cleansing, I read somewhere that it literally releases toxins at so many levels, toxins caused by stress or anxiety, and spiritual toxins, too, clearing one’s mind and heart…like a baptism each day, a reminder of God’s grace…

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