A few months ago, I purchased an activity tracker (or what I like to call my "fancy pedometer"). Before I started using this little contraption, I mistakenly believed that I was a reasonably active person. Unfortunately, as it began to track my every move, I had to face the fact that my life had become sedentary. On normal workdays, I took less than 5,000 steps from morning to night -- in other words, I barely moved. My weekly workout with the trainer was not enough to counteract my inactive lifestyle. I knew I had to make some changes.
So this summer, I accepted a daily challenge to take 10,000 steps, climb 10 flights of stairs, exercise for at least 30 minutes, and walk at least five miles -- every day.
As my walks became more frequent, I discovered an added benefit -- walking is an excellent way to unplug.
Rather than plugging in the headphones, I use the time to clear my head. I can process problems that have been bothering me, pray and visualize, or simply observe the world and reflect on my life.
Another focus for a nice long walk is gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful spiritual practice, and it never fails to increase our sense of well-being. Through praise and gratitude, we shift our focus from lack to fulfillment. Taking the focus off our troubles, we place it on what is working and what brings us joy. Gratitude increases our awareness of how blessed we are and helps us let go of worry and complaint.
On a recent walk, I decided to do a simple gratitude practice -- a body blessing. It was invigorating and enlivening. This is how it went:
Start with the feet. Have you ever considered how long and far your feet have carried you?
I recently turned 47, so my feet have supported me for nearly five decades. They have carried me (and some extra pounds) countless miles with minimal complaint. As I thought about how long and far my feet have traveled, I knew I hadn't thanked them enough. So I stretched my feet from toe to heel. I thanked them and blessed them for all their hard work.
Then I blessed my calves and shins. A few years ago, my lower legs hurt terribly when I walked or jogged, but now they are pain free. I thanked them for their regeneration and renewal.
I moved on and blessed my thighs for their strength, my hips for their flexibility, my back and my core for their stability. Focusing positive attention on these parts of my body made me feel stronger, and I noticed I was walking a little faster.
Bless the troubled spots. For those spots on our bodies that have some pain or may not be working as well as we would like, send an extra blessing.
As I worked through my body blessing, I took an extra moment with my lungs. I have asthma. So I paused to consider this part of my body and how my breathing can sometimes be uncomfortable. Yet even with occasional discomfort, I am blessed with life-giving breath every minute of every day. My lungs deserve praise and appreciation for their vital function and continual health and healing.
Rather than lament any weakness or sickness, praise the troubled spots for the health they exhibit. When we bless our bodies, we raise our thoughts right out of unhealthiness, into an experience of well-being. Our minds, bodies and spirits thrive with praise.
Praise every bit. Every part of our bodies deserves a little attention. How often do we even think about our elbows? And yet, I wouldn't want to imagine life without them! As we continue through our body blessing, be grateful for every bit.
As I walked, I blessed my arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head, eyes and ears. I felt the energy of that blessing immediately. My arms pumped with a little more gusto, my shoulders straightened, my posture improved. I was aware of the energy of life flowing through my body and it felt great!
As we bless and care for our bodies they shine bright -- inside and out. It never fails.
Next time you take a walk, try this body blessing. I promise you it will lengthen your stride and brighten up your spirit. Let me know how it works for you!
Affirmations for body, mind and spirit from Daily Word:
Energized with divine life, I am always in motion.
I am alive and alert -- one with the one.
I am animated by the gifts of spirit within.
I am energized with perfect life.
I am alive, alert, awake, joyous and enthusiastic about life!
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