Here at the halfway point of summer (don’t you dare say it’s half over!), it’s a good time to step back to evaluate our summer fitness goals.
(Or maybe it’s time to step back and think about making some summer fitness goals… Or maybe it’s time to step back and realize that summer fitness goals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and this is really prime time for ice cream. You’re an adult now, right?)
Whatever conclusions you draw about fitness this summer, this is a good time to also consider the health of your soul. The genius of St. Ignatius of Loyola was to apply to the spiritual life the same kind of discipline you’d take to the gym. If you’re a beginner, you wouldn’t waltz up to the squat rack and pile five plates on each side and attempt an Olympic lift out of the blue. You have to work up to it.
The same is true for the spiritual life. The Jesuits are men in the religious community founded by St. Ignatius, and they have outlined a pretty solid plan for progressing in the spiritual life — they call it the “Spiritual Exercises.” In this post, the Jesuits offer five “spiritual workout tips” that will either keep you on the right path this summer or kickstart your training to become a better, more loving person.
Here are some gems from each point, but see the whole post (at least for the hilarious gifs that animate the insights):
- Start the day right — Begin with a simple prayer routine that puts a word or phrase in your mind “and allow it to keep working on you all day.”
- Connect your heart-mind-body — “Allow your actions to stem from your deepest internal desires.”
- Daily self-improvement: better loving — “Just as many people use physical exercise to be ‘better looking,’ spiritual exercise should make us ‘better loving.’”
- Practice, practice, practice — “At first the silence of prayer and sitting alone with ourselves can be scary, but after a while it becomes essential for daily living.”
- Feed yourself right — “Just like your personal trainer doesn’t want your body trashed with junk food that can slow your progress, neither does God want you to trash your mind and soul with unnecessary material that will take your soul off its path.”