Recently, I asked someone, who had made astonishing progress in their physical fitness, for their secret. Was it strict dieting? Water intake? Extra cardio? How was she losing excess body fat at such an incredible speed? To some, her response may be surprising. Yes, she followed a clean diet. (A “clean” diet means that she did not eat any processed food and limited her carbohydrates to low-glycemic foods like oatmeal and sweet potatoes; limited her protein to lean sources like chicken breast, turkey and fish; and limited her vegetables to those high in antioxidants, like spinach, broccoli and asparagus.) Yes, she weight-lifted regularly to develop muscle mass and did cardio consistently each day. Yes, she drank plenty of water, with her goal being a gallon a day. But she didn’t attribute her success to any of those things, she attributed her success to putting God first.
We say that we put God first in our lives, but do we really do that? Are we really starting our day by recognizing that the Kingdom of God is within us, and by seeking first the inexhaustible supply of the universe that is right in our very midst? Or do we choose to worship the morning news, our cup of coffee, or the increasing demands of our jobs? Jesus says “seek first the Kingdom of God” — which is not the physical, material world that we live in, but the spiritual power within us. Putting God first is the foundation of all spiritual fitness, and spiritual fitness results in the attainment of all goals — spiritual and physical — with ease and success.
Spiritual fitness is so simple that we fail to practice it because we assume that it has to be difficult. Whenever we do pray, which for most of us is only when we want something, we actually ignore God by speaking so loudly into our own clasped hands that we drown out the infinite channels of divine good trying to respond to us. Why would life be as simple as Jesus said, giving us answers to prayers before we even ask?
We don’t even need a gym membership to get spiritually fit, but once we center in Spirit, we will receive the guidance that we need to attain all of our goals — not just those pertaining to the body temple. Spiritual fitness does not require us to exercise our body, it requires us to be aware of the presence of God; to ask for God’s help in accomplishing our goals — no matter how mundane; to accept God’s gifts by being our best; and to acknowledge God’s absolute good by giving thanks.
Spiritual Fitness Rule One: Awareness
The first spiritual fitness rule is awareness. You might say, “hey, I’m aware of the presence of God; I know that God exists.” But are you really aware that God is in the very air that you breathe and the space that you take up? God is not some place in the distance waiting to be called or solicited through prayer; God is every aspect of who we are. When Paul says that we live and move and have our being in God, that means that there is no separation between all that we are and all that God is. Jesus said keep your whole eye single, which means keep your consciousness stayed on God.
We exercise awareness when we tap into and turn on the presence of God that is always within us and around us. How do we do that? There are millions of ways, but here is one that is very simple and takes less than five minutes. As soon as you wake up, sit up in your bed and immediately breathe in and breathe out, focusing on the breath of life as the infinite power of God. Seek first the Kingdom within your own consciousness, the awareness that the Kingdom of God is the only power that there is, the only strength that there is, the only supply that there is, the only peace that there is, the only source that there is. Exercise your spiritual muscle of awareness by centering in the truth that in God, every problem is already solved, every challenge is already won, every appearance of dis-ease is already healed. God’s good is not something that is postponed until tomorrow, it is blessing you in this instant.
Spiritual Fitness Rule Two: Asking
If you’ve taken the time to center in a conscious awareness of God’s good, then you are exercising one of the strongest spiritual muscles that there is. But the truth is that we all need help. We’d like to do it alone, but sometimes we get completely overwhelmed by all of the decisions that we have to make, the priorities that we have to set, and the distractions we sometimes give our energy to. But Jesus said, if you need help, just ask. Ask, and it shall be given. He said, I have come so that you may have life and may have it more abundantly, so just ask for what you need.
When we exercise our spiritual muscles by asking, we are not just receiving, we are simply becoming more receptive to giving our best. We open our consciousness to trust the universe and find perfect order and harmony in everything that we do because we have cleared the way for God’s gifts to manifest through a consciousness that receives an unlimited supply of God’s good.
How do we ask? There are as many ways to do so as there are people. So here’s one method that helps me ask God each day. Create an affirmation that you can say daily, at least one to four times each morning — that not only asks but affirms that you have already received what you desire (e.g., I am fit. I have a new job. My body is healed. My book is finished). It can be as long as you want, asking the universe for the desires that God has given you — and if not those, then something better.
If you’re always on the go like me, tape it on your cell phone or blackberry, or create an MP3 and load it onto your iPod. I listen to my affirmations as I walk down the street because they help me stay focused on what God calls me to do. There is no dispute that words are powerful. Asking helps us focus the energy of our thoughts through words into the realization of our goals. The spiritual exercise of affirming words empowered with faith help us open our consciousness to order our steps by accomplishing the things that are necessary to do what God calls us to do.
Spiritual Fitness Rule Three: Acceptance
The third spiritual exercise requires us to open our hearts to accept God’s good. Have you ever been in a situation where you asked for something and it came so quickly that you didn’t even want it — because there was this unconscious part of you that wanted to struggle? Or perhaps something or someone came to you so quickly that you foolishly felt that their value was diminished by their eagerness? Or perhaps you received your blessing but you believed deep in your heart that you just weren’t good enough? I’ve come to believe that the reason that we don’t experience our good is our own sense of doubt and fear. We want change, and yet we have to grow through a “process” in order to accept change because if it came too fast, it would just blow us away.
How do we exercise our spiritual muscles to move our stuff out of the way so that we can accept the good that God is trying to give us? Once again, there are many ways, but here is an exercise that works for me. It’s simple. Start anew. Right now, in this instant, start anew. And each day that you wake up, know that you are at a new beginning. Paul said, I die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31 NKJV). Every day, every minute, every second, God gives us a clean slate. There is no need to carry past mistakes into the new realm of endless opportunity. There is no need to blame anyone. There is no need to feel guilt. We can choose to align our movement in this universe with the divine guidance of pure love and absolute good. There is no need to suffer. Wear the world as a lose garment. Do not give your energy to gossip or confusion or despair. Take care of God’s business in the now. There is no question that God will take care of you.
Spiritual Fitness Rule Four: Acknowledge
Spiritual exercise lays the foundation for all of our goals. When we are centered in God, our fitness will improve quicker than we’ve ever imagined. The right people will show up to help us. The perfect trainer will appear. Work-out buddies will support us. The right eating plan will be revealed. And in this consciousness of love, we will find that discipline will come easy. More importantly, we will have begun the most important fitness program imaginable: one that allows us to accept our place in the Kingdom of God and move forward in all of the blessings that God is giving us. Therefore, we have to give thanks by acknowledging God’s good.
This exercise is also simple. Just say thank you and be grateful for what you have, as well as for what you desire. God knows what we have need of before we even ask, so we can be grateful for it before it even manifests. We seldom appreciate what we have until it is taken away. We don’t appreciate our muscles until one is injured. We don’t appreciate our discipline until we falter. We don’t appreciate our finances until we experience the appearance of lack. We complain about everything and everyone. But we have so much to be thankful for.
Gratitude has an energy that awakens even more good and more thanks. The more thanks we give, the more we receive. So try this exercise everyday: give thanks for everything and everyone that you think about. If it’s an injury, bless it. If it’s a friend or even an enemy, bless them. If it’s a goal, thank God for its stimulus in your life. Just give thanks for whatever comes up for you. Even as you ask for something — give thanks that God has already heard and begun the process of answering your prayer.
If you do these spiritual exercises, I can guarantee you that you will get stronger and leaner, but most importantly, you will be spiritually fit. Even doing one of these exercises will bless you beyond measure. Our life is a continuous process of unfoldment, and the only way to stay in perfect shape is to honor body, mind and spirit!
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