Thursday, 14 September 2017

Fulness of Life is for your body too

I was raised to believe that Jesus offers us Life. And since I was a kid, I have been trying to figure out a bit of what that might mean. Jesus actually told people that he came to give ‘life in all its fulness’ which seems like a pretty big deal.
Some people read angels and harps into this. But for me, I want my vision of the fulness of life Jesus said he came to bring to include my physical self in the here and now. I mean, what does heaven on earth looks like for embodied beings? Us—with our hearts pumping blood, our muscles carrying our weighty skeleton, and the breath in our lungs reminding us that we are alive!

The inner work I do to become more fully the person I was meant to be must somehow affect the way I live in my body. Don’t you think? And vice versa—shouldn’t the work I do to take care of my physical self have an affect on who I am on the inside? I think Dallas Willard, guru of the mysteries and mechanics of personal and spiritual development, said something to this effect—that spiritual formation should be in evidence in the way I live in my body, or else we might question whether it is happening at all (*gulp*).

So, what if you have a lot of good intentions but your life makes it difficult to get into any sort of rhythm? What if you’re as familiar with airports as you are with the neighbourhood you call home? You compute time zones without looking them up on Google and you don’t maintain a gym membership because you’re away so much it’s hardly worth it?

It has to be possible - surely - for people who are super effective in the parts of their lives that cause them to be invited to speak all over the world, to take care of their bodies too. Or does a lot of work-related travel disqualify us from this ‘fulness of life’ thing? (If it does, you might want to think about a change of career. Just saying.)

My hubby and I have been in missions most of our lives. Even before joining YWAM about 19 years ago (sharp inhale of breath on typing that: HOW long?!!) we travelled quite a bit. And travel can mean all sorts of things. It can mean a change of climate; going from cool weather to muggy heat is never easy. Travel can mean being at the mercy of other people’s schedules, especially if you’re at a conference, or you’re a speaker being brought in for particular sessions. It can mean not having much private space, and all sorts of restrictions because of culture, making it difficult for women to exercise in public, for example.

Since keeping fit has always been a value for us, over the years we’ve found a few ways to stick to our routine wherever in the world we happen to be. Now, I’m aware that you don’t need anyone giving you one more thing to do. But taking care of your health does you good, it creates space where ‘fulness of life’ can be a physical experience as well as a spiritual one. And that’s got to be good news, right?

Here’s what’s worked for us.
  1. You can run or walk anytime and (almost) anywhere.
I know, I know, I will never convince everyone to become a runner! But running or walking are the most versatile forms of exercise, you just need to remember to pack suitable shoes. When it comes to travelling, running and walking offer two great bonuses: Firstly, you get to orientate yourself to the neighbourhood where you are staying, often discovering hidden corners you would never otherwise see. And secondly, you get alone time to reflect and think clearly about your day, which can be in short supply on many trips. Alternatively, you get to connect with other runners—and there are always some out there.

But if you can’t run or walk, there are still options …

2. Pack a skipping (or jump) rope.
A skipping rope packs up super small so is perfect for travelling. And you can use it in a minimal amount of space, like a balcony or small patio. Skipping is fantastic as a cardio workout and you can keep things interesting by planning a few different intervals, alternating hard and easy, for example. If you find it easier, you can download an App like Interval Trainer and set it to beep at you at predetermined intervals! Add some good music and away you go.

And if your ceiling is too low for jumping rope, there’s always …

3. Stream an online workout.
Rather than pay for a gym membership that gets interrupted each time I travel, for some time I have opted for an online subscription. Signing up for BeachBody On Demand is like having a workout version of Netflix at your fingertips. Whether I want to do a yoga-style stretch, a quick blast of interval training, or something longer, I can stream any number of fantastic, trainer-led workouts to my laptop or phone. I really love this, mostly because I don’t have to think about what to do—it’s all right there.

And if you are in a place with poor Internet, you can try …

4. A simple workout App.
The simplest workout App I have come across is the 7 minute workout challenge (7MWC). The great thing about this is that you don’t need any equipment (except maybe a chair, and hopefully you have one of those) and you can use it offline. You can go through the 7 minute routine as many times as you like, obviously. But even 7 minutes is better than nothing if you have a day of meetings ahead of you.

If you feel at the mercy of your travel schedule (or your kids’ schedule, or your work schedule) these are a couple of ideas for getting some movement into your day. Because, whatever your commitments and wherever you are in the world, fulness of life is for your body too!

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