Research shows that people who focus on the sensations of exercise and on their surroundings enjoy the experience more. Christian mindfulness can support our exercise program, and the exercise program can build our Christian mindfulness.
How can we do it?
- Pray before your exercise, offering thanks for the body you have been given.
- Unplug. Exercise without music or other input so you can focus on the experience.
- Pay attention to the changes you feel as you exercise: changes and strains in your muscles, your mood and emotions, your breathing and all else you experience.
- Notice pain and decide what to do about it. Be nice to yourself.
- Observe the surroundings, whether they are nature or the walls of a room.
- Listen to your thoughts. Are you in dread? Watching the clock? Feeling competitive with others around you?
- As you cool down, offer gratitude for your body, inside and out.
Exercise can be many things, ranging from an addiction to an experience to avoid as much as possible. Bringing Christian mindfulness into the activity can add some calm and clarity to it.
This is a time when many Christians are appalled at others … including other Christians. Politics has overcome many of us. This Christian mindfulness exercise can help us to regain love and compassion for others.
Think of a person who you don’t like. If you are up for it, make it someone whose opinions you find obnoxious or worse. Put this person in your mind while you open with prayer and then meditate on these things:
- This person is a human with a mind, heart and body, just as I am.
- God loves this person, like He loves me.
- Jesus died for this person, just like me.
- This person has a history that I do not completely know.
- This person has thoughts and feelings like me.
- This person has gone through difficulties and hurts, just as I have.
- This person is not always wrong, just as I am not always right.
Then pray for this person: for their relationship with God, for their health, for their happiness.
I developed this idea based on the Just Like Me exercise in “The Mindful Day” by Laurie J. Cameron. She considers thinking well of others as one of the central practices of mindfulness. If that is true of secular mindfulness, think how much more true it is of Christian mindfulness.