Chelle Summer

The Spiritual Side of Exercise

Michelle Rusk

I never thought of exercise as something spiritual. For a long time in my life, it was a physical activity that I also knew benefited me emotionally. I have written previously about how I pray during my initial run in the morning– with Lilly my German Shepherd– where I say thanks for everything in life from the previous day.

However, as I reflect back on my life and how much swimming has become an integral part of my daily life, I see now how that’s more spiritual time, zen time.

I usually swim later in the day, if possible, so that I give myself a break from my work. Although I did find this winter that 11:00 am gave me a good break from my morning work at my laptop and what I tried to make afternoon work at the sewing machine. And after writing throughout the morning, I also used that time in the pool to plan my writing for the following day.

Prayer isn’t easy- my mind wanders and if there is any noise (particularly at the gym pool), I find myself getting caught up in what’s happening there. I also have learned that half of prayer is learning to shut out the outside noise and not just let my mind rest from whatever else I’ve been doing, but also see what ideas come into my mind by being open, by giving it a rest.

I usually leave the pool feeling at least mentally rested and ready to tackle the rest of the day. The bonus is that I usually have at least one writing idea that goes home with me.

Running has always served a purpose in my life- as does walking the dogs– but swimming has become something different. It’s as if it has an added component from getting off my feet and working my way through the water, giving me a different perspective and a different place to open my mind.