The Movement Parallels (intro)
My thoughts on what I’m about to write about isn’t quite fully developed yet, but I have had a recent realization of the undertones and parallels with the spiritual and physical body, particularly with the habits and movements of the spiritually mature in comparison to those who are in pathological pain/stagnation. I believe there was a reason that we were made with physical bodies, and that the Spirit that resides within us is so permeated into our physical existence that it manifests into the physical. Perhaps pain and pathology, which is a physically occurring manifestation of imbalances, is also a symptom of the spiritual condition? We have a chronic pain epidemic in the country, as well as depression and a whole host of other pathologies largely related to not moving/exercising/stagnation of motivation.
I strongly feel it reflects our movement epidemic in this country as Christians and how we don’t move/meet a lot of “roadblocks” to moving. Where many go through a palpable stagnation with faith and those who try end up with severe burnout and are discouraged from truly seeking a Christ-like lifestyle. There is an increasing decline of the spiritual health of our nation and an increase of secondary pathologies.
If exercise and good movement is universally known to be a good activity with many benefits in improving physical and mental health, why is it so difficult to do and rare to see it being done correctly?
If Christians know that Jesus’s way of life is the truth and how one should aspire to live, why are so many hesitant to take upon that lifestyle? As described by G.K. Chesterton, “Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.”
While reading “Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas Willard, I was blown away by his explanation of this…and then I discovered a parallel that might be a bit more understandable by the general population.
So back to…the possible “why” in regards to faith and exercise:
Both are misunderstood as being extremely difficult to do. “I don’t have time to even spend 30 minutes of my day to…”, “I’m just too tired at the end of the day…”, “I would but you know, after last time I was so disappointed after…”, “It’s not like I didn’t try to…but I ended up so burned out so I didn’t…”. Replace the ending with meditation or prayer or running or exercise, but you get the point.
It’s possibly the problem of trying to become the “perfect human” yet with the burdensome fear of failure. For example: trying to eat and exercise well after being frustrated with how they’ve become and then burning out with the everyday “burden” of working out until you can’t and eating foods that you don’t want to. With the constant hunger and never feeling satisfied with the incredibly slow progress, most end up burning out and feeling awful, or making significant progress and then suddenly relapsing from exhaustion. On the other hand, new Christians, or long standing Christians get frustrated with their current sinful state and then try impossibly to take “the easy yoke” offered by Christ. They try it and then end up failing because they (myself included) get burned out trying to serve serve serve, and being the “best Christian” they can be. It typically ends up falling upon: “We’re only human”, “It’s impossible to BE Christ”, then being okay with a substandard self where we do the bare minimum (whatever that means). We say it’s impossible and we don’t have time.
But arguably, you cannot afford to not move and breathe correctly. It literally affects all that you do! If your excuse is that you literally have absolutely no time from start of day to finish, surely you must rethink your life….because when it is not done, it leads to further pathologies of the body through continuous repetitions of poor movements. Faulty movements that are the product of having to live through the stresses of life’s burdens and not having the endurance to maintain correct movements, resulting in pain and pathology.
Similarly, you cannot afford to not move/live like Christ and meditate in the Word…It literally affects all that you do! If your excuse is that you literally have absolutely no time from start of day to finish, surely you must rethink your life….because when it is not done, it leads to further pathologies of the spirit through continuous repetitions of poor decisions/use of time. Faulty decisions that are the product of having to live through the stresses of life’s burdens and not having the endurance to maintain correct movements, resulting in stagnation and apathy from not drawing from the ultimate relationship b/w the self and the Trinity.
Exercise is a means of developing endurance, to practice breathing and excellent movement with mindfulness so that when you live life, such things occur naturally and almost reflexively as an overflow of discipline and is no longer effortful but rather natural…Sound familiar? Spiritual disciplines are a way to develop that relationship, to draw from a source that will never exhaust. If you say “I have no time for God”, repeat that back to yourself and see how… ridiculous that might sound. Spiritual disciplines are a way to practice mindfulness/solitude/breathing with God and deepening that relationship with Him so that when you live life, living like Christ did occurs naturally and reflexively as an overflow of love for God and the Holy Spirit moves naturally in you. This way it is no longer “effortful” or “impossible” to live like Christ, but rather because you want to. (Strongly recommend reading “Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas WIllard and “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard J. Foster)
So I’m writing this series on the parallels I’ve found between the physical and spiritual, to discuss things through a different perspective, a movement perspective, that might make it easier to see this parallel and apply it to your life…theoretically of course (hopefully will encourage you to move better too, but I can only hope). Though this parallel can be made with many of life’s experiences, I feel this is one way for me personally as someone who is obsessed with movement to better understand the process of spiritual discipline and the importance of living like Christ in such a way that the yoke is easy and my will/decisions are transformed more towards Christ in a way that is natural vs towards my typical way of thinking. (this blog is also a reminder to myself about my need for such things too!)
No doubt there must be a reason when something big happens it’s called a movement…Perhaps this will create a movement in your life… or perhaps it will ease you into a new type of thinking? Perhaps you just would like to hear about my movement knowledge to apply to your life. Take this series as you will, but…if you do, embark with me on a journey about learning about ourselves in the physical and spiritual sense.
Oh…and feel free to discuss with me any components of this! Whether it’s things you want to add, or disagree with!