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How has your relationship with your body changed; how might it change?

Phase 3: My Relationship with Self
Workbook Exercise: My Own Self

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Transcript of Video:

When I was growing up I was what you would call “divorced” from my body, from my physicality, my embodiment in the world, because for a long time I didn’t see it as a resource, as a place of safety. I saw it as something to run away from. It contained some really painful emotions. And then sometime in my late 20s, I discovered dance, quite by accident, and I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that dance saved my life, because it was a means of expressing myself through movement, of using my body for something creative. It allowed me to get in touch with those parts of myself that I had denied for a very long time. It wasn’t all very pleasant because it allowed me to get in touch with things living in my body that, like I said, were very painful. But as I worked my way through those, I was able to get to a point where my body was seen as – or I was able to see my body as a very beautiful resource that I can bring to my prayer life, that I can bring to all sorts of activities. And it was in recognizing how beautiful my body was that inspired me to want to honor it and treat it right, both through diet, physical exercise and of course, at the time, more dancing.

I think in creating a Rule of Life I think it is important to include elements within it that allow us to honor our bodies, to include our bodies as part of our entire experience in the world, not as something to be divorced from. Often times when praying it is easy to the mistake of being all in our heads. But the desert fathers repeated again and again how important it was to descend from our heads into our hearts and to live in our bodies. So I would encourage people creating a Rule of Life to include that element. To have some reminder that in the Rule itself that says, “I value my body. God sees my body as beautiful and I am going to include it as a resource in my life of prayer dedicated to God.”

– Br. Nicholas Bartoli

57 thoughts on “How has your relationship with your body changed; how might it change?

  1. I was really touched by today’s video. i was morbidly obese. Through prayer and fasting, I recognized my bodied as I never looked in the mirror. I decided that my body is God’s temple and that I must take care of it. I started eating properly and exercise minimal three days a week. I also maintained an intense prayer life. Creating a rule of life has enhanced my awareness by loving myself inwardly and outwardly.

  2. Perhaps when Jesus was praying in the garden that the cup might pass, it was because the body is good. Wedding banquets and friends and dusty roads on hot days are a blessing.

  3. My relationship with my body has changed in that I am thankful for my body… In my youth I took my body for granted and just expected it to be there.. I use my body to express my self.. I also am thankful each day that’ll body moves me around… Thank you for my body this vessel to do your worj

  4. My body has been ignored for years. Up to about 10 years ago I had some physical excercise and was fairly active. The last 10 years between aging and the business of life has seen a swift decline and injury were I can’t do most of the things I used to enjoy. I have been rehabbing my injury the past few months and that has shown me how precious my physical well-being was and how I have to nurture this now as a priority and not wait to tomorrow.

  5. Exercise has never been a pleasant experience for me. Growing up I was the tall, gangly girl who was unmercifully teased by young and old alike. Grade school coaches assumed basketball would be a great fit for me since I was tall. It wasn’t. Even playing half court, managing that length with feet crippled by arthritis was terribly painful. And the other team players, who assumed I was a threat based on my height, would aim for my feet with theirs, It was an awful time of my life. In my 20s I began to enjoy walking, but arthritis continued to be a problem as it is now. As I’ve aged, it has been a gift to become more sedentary. Now in my 60s, still being fully aware of the need and importance of exercise, I lug around weights of guilt instead of free weights. The question you ask Brother Nicholas, how might it change is one I’ve asked myself over and over and over again. Whether it’s motivation, courage, or desire, I am trapped inside a pain-filled body.

  6. When I was in my 20’s & 30’s, I hardly gave any thought to the care and well being of my body. I would eat what I liked and rarely exercised. As I entered my 40’s I became aware that this is the only body I have & I want it to be healthy through proper diet and exercise. I’m proud to say that for several years now, I eat extremely healthy & am in better physical shape than ever. I started running a few years ago and it has changed how I view my body and what it’s capable of. Ichallenge myself now on a regular basis and feel a positive connection to my physical being that I never did before. The mind body connection that I have is strong and I’m proud of myself.

  7. I like the way my body looks, how healthy it is, the way it carries me around and works for me, how it recovers when I overuse it. I exercise and mostly eat right, and go to the doctor when it needs help. But I feel detached from my body, and have since a young girl when it was abused. It’s as if I have a responsibility to care for it, but don’t feel a connection to it. I’m working to change this, but the work is hard.

  8. When I jog and also workout I do this to keep my self in shape to continue to be able to be able to be independent and care for myself. When I feel pain during my workout, I work thru the pain. Also I try to eat healthy. That is how I honor my body and maintain a healthy heart.

  9. My body used to obediently do what I told it to do. Now it resists me. Now I struggle against it. I want to see my body as something beautiful to partner with, not to ignore or be grossed out by.

  10. How to honor this body, limited by the results of 40+ years of rheumatoid arthritis? I never was an ‘exerciser’ or an athlete; I was/am a gardener. I respect a body that works; mine works less and less. Must commit to regular exercises to maintain balance. It is so easy for me to find sedentary tasks.

  11. Unfortunately, as with prayer, I go through phases where I have a very active physical routine and then I fall off the wagon so to speak. I believe the key here, at least for me, is to develop internally the full belief that I reside in the temple of God, or that my body is God’s temple. My eating habits are actually good in that I indulge in healthier foods, though sometimes more each day than I ought to. But the physical activity is not as rich as it needs to be. I lose motivation. Today, however, I had already made the decision to walk to work (25 minutes) and that will be good. I love those days when I do spend time walking to work because it allows me to hear God’s creation (the birds), it allows me to see God’s creation (trees and flowers) and it also gives me time for a conversation with God along with physical activity. Otherwise, true physical exercise – I want to work on this…!

  12. I am awed and humbled by what others have shared. Thank you all for your candidness. As we age, our bodies begin to say no to our demands. Nothing makes us appreciate them more than when they stop working or become painful! It’s so easy to take the gift for granted.
    However, as my wise “other Mother” Joan told me from her wheel chair, “You don’t have to turn your head very far, to see someone who is in a harder place”. So as I recuperate from yet another injury, I pray for patience and thank God for the healing process.

  13. Fortunately I have never know the pain that some go through – hating their body shape,etc. I did not know it then but my mother expressed/expresses love through food. She does so not by creating but by consuming. She taught that pattern when I was young. When I began to individuate as a teen I
    began to eat more healthfully and exercise.

    Then, in my 40s, I learned I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Soon after the
    latter diagnosis I was talking to my best friend since childhood. He had been obese since childhood (partially due to having broken his
    back in 9th grade). During our conversation
    he made the remark that he wouldn’t live to
    see 50. That thought was devastating. He is
    a person who is great with kids and would
    make a wonderful grandfather. At that point,
    I had a wife and daughter and I made a
    promise to them to take even better care
    of my body by exercising and watching
    what I put into my body – so that I might
    be there for them in the future. The
    marriage has gone by the wayside now.
    Yet I exercise almost daily. During the
    longer period of exercise I use that time
    for a time of prayer or to do one of my
    spiritual exercises at the same time.

  14. I find I take my body for granted until I feel pain, and then it once again gets my attention. I would like to say I always eat in a healthy manner and exercise regularly, but I do not. I have tried all my life but often stray from the disciplines of both. At the moment it has my attention due to some back pain, and tomorrow I begin physical therapy to learn what it is I need to do to maintain good back and body health.There is nothing like pain to get my attention, both physically and spiritually. My prayer is that I will be attentive, mindful and intentional…

  15. Like many others my body has never been a priority, but I have never put it together with pray. Perhaps if I develop an connection I can improve both my pray life and my body at the same time

  16. Thank you, Br. Nicholas for this wonderful meditation. Exercise is a very important part of my daily routine. I had not really thought of it in spiritual terms, but I do honor my body by keeping fit. I also use the exercise time (whether walking or on elliptical/treadmill) to listen to podcasts (On Being or similar). I find that allowing my body to work frees my mind to think and grow. Shalom and many blessings.

  17. I have always been a physical sort of person. My father’s appreciation of my being a tomboy made this a valued part of my childhood. It is now an integral part of my life. Prayer is something I really work hard on. But I do work on it every day.

    A Question: Your physical activity is dance. Do the Brothers have a time and place to dance?

  18. I just find that a healthy body is so important. In order to serve a church or to be able to assist others. I take great pride in maintaining a rule of exercise and healthy eating.

  19. Body ! I enjoy exercising, always have, and eat healthfully, but feel and detest the extra weight I carry around. I am so focused on that uncomfortable feeling – day in day out, that despite all the wonderful, wonderful gifts this body has given me – walking, biking, team sports, heart still pumping and everything working well … that morbid feeling of detestation remains. I can feel my fat, but not my heart.

  20. I swear I was anorexia in my youth. Because It was easier not to eat then it was to get regular exercise. I was looking to exercise as a way to lose weight which is impossible because I have a low thyroid in balance. With a couple of things in my life that created stress. I started seeing spots in the air. My Doctor said you stop exercising re start and it will go away. So I did and it did. Now I just eat healthy because my husband is diabetic and has to. So I eat what he does.

  21. As a 5 ft teenage girl in the 60s I believed I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy. We did not own a scale but I convinced myself I weighed 140/160. My friends were all super weight concious as we struggled to look like Twiggy. I did not realize I was in the beginning of what would be a long struggle with improper weight image and anorexia. Concerned parents and the grace of God led me to a young therapist who, at the start, asked if she could videotape our sessions as this would be part of her doctoral research and thesis. After a year of meetings she decided to show me a ‘movie’. The person on the tape in session with her was excrutaitingly thin – black hair pulled over most her face. (?) Within the long space of a few minutes I was shocked to see it was me. How could I have been so far off from the truth? It was the beginning of my healing.

    At 61 I am gratefull everyday that God walked me through that particular valley. My weight and body image has taken a correct and proper place in my universe. The Holy Spirit has calmed my need for control and allowed me to see how God views me and how much He loves me. I am made in His image. Our bodies are miracles! I love Him and I am loved and this temple, for the short time I dwell in it, is also loved. Thank you, Jesus!

  22. Like Brother Nicholas, dance was a big part of coming to understand my body as really me. I think there’s a strain of popular thought that says our body is just a shell for some spiritual creature, but the Incarnation and Resurrection teaches us our physical selves are fully us. I’m sometimes a performance artist, and almost all my performance pieces have to do with Incarnation, whether it’s on the surface or not.

    The last decade has seen some changes that are less than ideal as I’ve aged. 9 years ago, we discovered a clogged artery on my heart just before I would likely have had a big heart attack. I’ve been on medications since that keep me from having that happen again, but also sometimes makes me ache. Three years ago, we discovered a mass on my pancreas, which turned out to be a non-cancerous cyst, but was large enough to require removing half my pancreas. This pushed me into diabetes, which creates it’s own set of requirements for somewhat healthy living. Mostly, it feels like it’s a very complicated thing, this staying alive.

    To put my best spin on it, my health issues have brought to the fore just how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. I’ve been amazingly lucky, given the gravity of each initial discover over the years, but the gravity has pulled me more deeply into my flesh.

    Just yesterday, I did some work for a video artist as a performer, and it was the very slightest of physical requirements, but nonetheless, I’m sore today. I don’t like how little it takes to make me sore these days, but I do welcome the reminder that I am alive and this physical aspect of me, which is really fully me just as my hand or foot or soul or breath is fully me, can still do things that I enjoy. I can’t do all I once did, but I can still do some things.

    And today, I’m reminded how good it would be to incorporate the corporal in a rule of life . . .

  23. For many years, I saw my body as out to get me. I was experiencing unexplained, often extreme weight gain for no apparent reason, constant pain interspersed with bouts of overwhelming pain that seemed to come out of nowhere, horrible headaches, and a host of other symptoms that attacked without warning.

    I did all I could to “get it right,” to eat healthy, exercise, and do good by myself, but nothing corrected the problems fully. And if one problem did get better, another stepped forward to take its place.

    I got no answers from doctors and spent twenty-five years of frustration and symptoms before I got a correct diagnosis: Lyme.

    Now that I know what has (literally!) been bugging me all these years, I have had to learn a whole new way of seeing my body. My body and I were enemies before, firmly entrenched on opposite sides of the war field, each trying to kill the other. Now, I am learning that my body was on my side, that the symptoms were not generated by it but caused to it. They were also a cry for help, for my brain to somehow find the answer, even though I was unsuccessful.

    It makes a big difference not to feel at war with myself anymore. Healing does not happen overnight, but it has so much better a chance to happen when you realize that you really are on the same side!

  24. My relationship to my body has changed drastically in the last 10 years. In 2006, I had gastric bypass surgery. I lost 130 pounds and have kept most of it off. The down side of it is that as I’ve aged (will be 62 in March) I have developed digestive problems and IBS. I’ve also developed some fairly severe arthritis issues. These changes have been frightening and have left me wondering how I do my life with these limitations. I’m praying a lot for understanding of this body. I have a hard time loving it despite it being my only vehicle for living. Prayer helps and I’m doing a lot of it.

  25. Most of my adult life I have had a regular exercise program, sometimes more intensive, sometimes just stretching and flexibility. I used to run, but my knees gave out and I have since had surgery. I am aware that I have taken my body for granted in the past, but around 25 years ago, took up weekly exercise routines that helped me feel better about my body and the shape I was in. Several surgical procedures have repaired worn and broken parts of my body, and I am grateful for the skill of my surgeons and the healing Holy Spirit. As I age, I am more often inconvenienced by the ache of arthritis or the long period of healing necessary after an acute injury. However, I still am thankful for my physical well-being and am not resistant to nor fearing getting older or physically less able.

  26. Like a number of of others, I took my body more or less for granted in my youth – though I was certainly superficially interested in how I looked and felt. I experienced some severe allergic reactions to some foods and bites, had a stress-related spastic colon as a teen and also severe cramps as a teen and young adult. All of these certainly brought my body to my attention, but were more of a nuisance than something that made me reflective about my life style. Fortunately I never abused my body and lived a prett healthy life style – while pushing my body pretty hard at times.
    In my early 70s now, I am more aware of various discomforts and reduced flexibility, etc., but also more appreciative of all my body has done and does for me. I am more faithful about exercise and sleep (have more time for both, it must be said!), and more aware of the need to treasure and appreciate what I am able to do. I know that the chances are extremely high that there will be further reduction in what my body can do as the years go on, but I am praying that I will grow in my ability to be mindful of how I am using it and appreciative of what I can do. An attitude of gratitude will take us a long way.

  27. I am embarrassed to say that I have ignored my body almost all of my life (74 years of it) and have always had fear and dread of beginning an exercise program. I have written at length in answer to the Brothers’ questions in this section, and need no convincing with regard to the value of exercise. I have all the knowledge I need, know all the mind tricks, and have tried them all. I pray that this Lenten journey will encourage me to jumpstart the process.

  28. I gained a lot of weight a few years ago, and it was very scary for me. I never felt healthy, but even though I gained the weight, I ate any and everything, its as though certain foods will say to me “eat me”. Finally I woke up and I decided to eat better, I looked at myself and realized I can do better, I can feel better, I have the strength, I have lost a few pounds and continue to each month. I am beginning to feel like my old self. It is a challenge, but I try, and with much prayer, God has given me the strength to ignore the voice that says “eat me”

  29. I believe, I can feel what brother Nicholas is talking about when he refers to painful childhood experiences involving his body. That was my life, and it has warped my view of my body and my place in the world. I was very tall and overweight as a child and was at a disadvantage playing sports. It was also a reason why other children teased me and disassociated from me. This isolation has produced
    antisocial behavior on my part further distancing me from others. By God’s grace, I have found others who have endured similar circumstances and have joined together to share regularly their stories of recovery and hope. For me, this healing program is strongly rooted in my Christian faith, and it has recently become an integral part of my spiritual practice and rule of life. Brother Nicholas’ meditation raises the issue of how to nurture the body, and it is a good question. I love to walk, do household tasks and also to dance. I will be praying on how to implement these and other strategies to honor the body God gave me.

  30. I try to nourish my body and keep moderately active. Activity has come harder in recent years. I often wonder about a tick bite that seems to mark from when activity changed from a chore to a burden. I’ve still not managed to find a place where “enough is enough” with respect to food, but I do tend to make my overeating be of wholesome foods.

    My activities can have nothing to do of athleticism or coordinated movement. Dance leaves me in tears. I walk and stretch and carry stuff. That’s about it.

  31. I have always treated my body well, because of the example of my parents. I used to be thin with a flat stomach even after three children. Then I became ill and was put on a medication that gave me a belly. For a long time I didn’t want this belly. I wanted my figure back, especially when I was around my sister who has remained thin her whole life. Now however, just recently I have started to become comfortable with my shape. In my better moments I have always been comfortable, but something has shifted. My looks don’t matter so much anymore. I have more important things to do, and to think about than my shape. As long as I keep my body healthy, that is all I need to do. I have danced my whole life, so I have always been comfortable with being in my body, even if at times I haven’t been happy with it. Something further I could do is to use it in prayer somehow. I feel a little edgy about that, so maybe it would be good for me. I’ll have to let the Holy Spirit guide me.

  32. The relationship with my body has changed tremendously over the last 25-30 years , since I stopped smoking and consuming an inordinate amount of alcohol. I feel alive and healthy, although all those bad habits during the early ages have been catching up with me. I have to start exercising consistently and regularly as well as continue to eat “Healthy”. This would bring about change for the better for my body. In other words, I am in the process of repairing GOD’S Temple with His Help and guidance.

  33. I have given more thought to my relationship with my body as I grow older and am faced with physical limitation. Regular exercise, yoga, tai chi and watching my diet have helped me with balance and movement issues. I am grateful and thank God.

  34. I too find dance liberating, a freedom that can be exhilarating as well as nourishing. My husband and I started dancing at 65; suddenly I wasn’t so self- conscious. Having exercised since my 20s, I combined Zumba with dancing and finally it clicked. But yoga has brought it all together allowing me to meditate more effectively and reach out to others.

  35. …my body loves to run and swim (in a clean pool), great exhilaration and clearance of the mind and soul..

    …since we’re talking with monks i shall also say that the experience of orgasm is something of the nature of God…every ‘living body’ experiences this and i often wonder about God, juxtaposed to this experience…certainly something of natural law and as ‘fulfilling’ somewhat of a finite eschatological experience.

    …learning about nutrients is fascinating and wonder if anyone else would assert that lemons are very addictive.

  36. When I was in my teens I found Yoga and dance gave me confidence in my body and I have always taken care of mu health in eating sensibly and exercising regularly- tennis, badminton , walking , yoga etc. In spite of this I got BC 7 years ago and felt I had somehow not done the right things enough and felt a little sorry for myself and Why me? king of thing. Now , I am thankful for being here , still exercise (walking, gardening, yoga) , eat healthy foods and have a positive attiitude. I thank God everyday.

  37. My body can no longer do many of the activities it used to do. I am much more careful and intentional with my body now, wheras in my youth, I really never thought much about it, since it did almost everything I asked it to do. One noticeable exception was flying off the garage roof. I tried it and even in my youth, my body said: “sorry, can’t do.”

    My near lifelong friend, though, tells me every day “you are so beautiful.” Amazing words from a friend as well as from God.

  38. My relationship with my body is ambivalent at best. There are times when I consider it God’s temple and I honor it through healthy eating, sufficient rest and exercise. However, it is not consistent. I have moved to lose weight only to sabotage myself because of fear . I am realizing that my relationship with my body is a spiritual and emotional relationship to optimize my relationship with my body I must get all three in alignment. Creating a rule will move me towards a new relationship with my body.

  39. This is timely for me.
    And very uncomfortable.

    I quit smoking nearly three years ago, which was a very good choice for sure – but the upshot was that I gained a bunch of weight. Between that and living in the South for a year – among the barbecue and cornbread – I’m pretty far overweight.

    And I’m sensitive about it.
    Like, really sensitive.
    Like, sensitive enough about it that I don’t even talk to God about how I feel about my body, let alone another person.

    But the fact is, this flabby body of mine is the one God gave me. I’m gonna live in it until I’m not living anymore. So, here I am, trying to take care of it. Not doing a particularly good job, but trying.

    So, I’m walking more.
    I actually rode my bike today, in response to this question.
    And it hurt.
    Nobody talks about how much it hurts to be fat.
    But I’m gonna keep doing it.
    The ultra-fit obnoxious skinny people I work with tell me it’ll hurt less after awhile.

    In the meantime, God and I are starting a conversation about being out of shape and all the painful issues that surround that.

  40. I am thankful that my relationship with my body has improved in the past couple of years. I finally feel that I have power and control over my own body again after many years of allowing someone else to have control of my body in a number of ways. I feel much more free and empowered these days, and am thankful for that change.

  41. Over the last five years, my back has gone through a very negative change. I’ve had to deal with intense pain that made it difficult to walk or lay down. It was a very difficult time for me as I changed almost everything I did & how I did it. I had to ask for help suddenly. This was not easy for me the always independent feisty lady. Working with my physical therapist we developed an exercise program to cover every major muscle group. I then set out to do this series every morning. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be because doing the exercises made me feel so much better – reward was built into the program! And, though at times I felt frustrated to the point of tears, I’ve really come to realize that this change had a silver lining. I’ve come to appreciate every little thing I can do & love the times when I am relatively pain free & thank God profusely for each & every one of these moments. These times of thankfulness have opened other opportunities for thankfulness and it seems like I’m happier than ever despite this negative thing happening.

  42. I guess you could say that my body and I have never had too much of a relationship. Like so many above, I’ve spent most of my life ignoring my body and just always expecting it to be generally healthy and perform nearly flawlessly. Oh, I do low-impact exercise by walking and hiking quite frequently and I’ve usually eaten healthful food and tried to keep from getting too much of a belly, but I used to pretty much leave my body to its own regenerative devices as far as routine maintenance went. But that relationship between us becomes more and more meaningful as I get older. Dental problems were first, along with frequent colds, allergies, and sinusitis. Lately, it’s back problems which began with an injury in Boy Scouts coming back to haunt me with recurring sciatica. And THAT has really gotten me in touch with my body. I must now care for it daily, and really watch how I move. But I’m confident that with proper care, I’ll be back on the trail again.

  43. How I treat my body hasn’t changed much over the years. Since my teen years, I’ve fed it way too much, and too often not very good things. I’m almost 60; I am more aware than ever that this must change, or I may not see 70. I also need to re-introduce my body to movement; I would love to take a day hike again in the mountains, where I’ve often found peace.

  44. One of my favorite songs is “Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord to Thee.”
    “Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love… Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Take my voice and let me sing Always, only for my King…Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages for Thee…Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.”
    I consider my body as a vehicle for expressing love for God and for others.
    Thank you for reminding us of how important our bodies are. I enjoyed reading all the posts on this subject.

  45. I recently tripped on an uneven threshold at work and broke a couple bones – fortunately they did not displace and no surgery has been needed. But I think it’s safe to say my relationship with my body has been the subject of greater attention on my part for the last month or so. One thing I am glad to know is that it is strong. My recovery is going faster than I dared hope, in terms of mobility. However, bones take longer to heal and in some ways my strength is a risk. If I get careless, it could lead to a worse injury.
    So I am trying to find a balance between doing all the things I’m used to doing – and doing what I can actually physically tolerate that won’t cause damage.
    This seems to tap into a common theme, if the comments posted so far are any indication. We take such grace and gifts for granted. The key, as I see it, is to seek the gift, grace, and beauty of brokenness, of loss, and of weakness. No easy task. I need to experience these changes before I can learn to value them, I suppose.

  46. I actually thought of this subject back when I made me new years resolution because I realized that I wanted to get back to eating healthier which I have been doing good on. Another thing that I wanted to do was to exercise on a regular bases which I haven’t been keeping up with probably because I haven’t found the right schedule to fit me work schedule and into my rule of life yet. I am determined to find away to add exercise into my rule of life because I miss being in shape like I use to be when I played soccer but because my knees are bad I can’t play soccer anymore but I can find ways to stay fit.

  47. I now pay more attention to my body than I used to. I now try to do all the things necessary to keep healthy like watching what and how much I eat and doing the recommended exercises.

  48. well, that’s part of how I recognized I needed a rule of life… that my horarium had some where drifted into a kind of time management across the day. Perhaps, doing the right things for the wrong reasons. I realized, I’d just grown weary of tending my body as Temple of the Holy Spirit. I just stopped doing all those little carings that celebrate the gift of incarnation. As I drew closer to 70, I got lazy? mmm nope, I got weary. I began trying to find what Sabbath was like at 70. Letting go of presumptions, and expectations, and demands that my body had to meet.
    The last time I really noticed, I was 33 or so. Now, 69 and living my 70th year! How did that happen. I held unspoken why’s behind how I cared for my body… and it was all good. Then what once was effortlessly maintained… became more and more of an effort, and eventually vigilance! Imbalances, old reasons and motivations no longer had merit. OK so I am gaining weight, and the last time I ‘exercised’ was golly, that many years ago? Didn’t I run a marathon for my 50th birthday, in praise and thanksgiving. Training runs as prayer with those who faced crisises alone. And now, even simple house maintenance and yard care is just one more time too many.
    I’ve found this picture of a young girl sweeping out the dust and cobwebs of an abandoned basement… abandoned… I wonder if, I was living a rule of life and didn’t realize it, homegrown in the heart, and have slowly abandoned it. First by changing the intention, then by changing intention to ‘reason’ then by doing something that as ‘work’ rather than celebration. Such an odd place to be after all these years. Yet, there is the thought that I’m encumbered by that which I’ve ‘failed to do’. Doing a 10 second tidy when what was really called for was a deep scrub, repair and repainting… done in gratitude, in thanksgiving, cherished… a celebration! once it was sooo easy to get to embrace the celebration and have it inclusive of my body. Now, I am waiting on the Lord … here, I am…I don’t know your will for me in this your Sabbath at 70.

  49. I was struck by Br. Nicholas’s comment on bringing prayer from your head into your heart/body. I learned the practice of “body prayer” from a Forward Day by Day devotion some years ago and now enjoy it every morning. I share it below in case any of you would like to try I t. I so appreciate the comments everyone makes; they are influencing my growing Rule of Life.

    Body Prayer
    Press fingers together and bow deeply

    “Almighty God, Hear my prayer” (raise arms to the heavens)

    “Fill me with your strength and goodness”
    (cross arms over heart)

    “So I can share it with the world” (stretch arms wide)

    While remaining grounded in your love (press palms downward by your sides)
    Repeat 3 times

  50. I think I have always had a fairly unhealthy relationship with my body. I’ve always been too heavy for my frame. I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food.I tend to eat my emotions. I think that is something that has always been a disappointment or a failure in my life, it’s something that I feel acutely right now because because I’m again I am at a place of being heavier than I wish to be. I have started to try to work on that issue again and I’d have not Incorporated anything in terms of
    exercise or movement into my life. I used to love to walk I would walk by myself in nature and I haven’t done that in a long time and I think that something that I want to bring back into my life because of the joy and peace brought me but also because of the health that it brought me. I don’t feel as strong or is able as I used to. Surely I’m older and there is some of that but I’m not old so there’s no reason for me to accept infirmity in my body. I really like the message that God sees our bodies as beautiful. I don’t think that something I have ever really done on a personal level so that is something I could work on.

  51. I have been practicing prayer in my body. I practice the presence of God and I also like a Benedictine rule that says keep an humble bearing in your body. Sometimes if rules or scripture or prayer is in my head it has less positive result than when it is in the whole body. The brain is analytical but the body and spirit is not. I use imagery to imagine Holy God is in my whole body and that my body is a temple filled with peace. This keeps me out of a lot of strife with people because it changes my behavior. As for body image, I take care of my health but I am too old to worry too much about appearance and the affects of aging. I used to think aging was a cruel joke,but a friend said if we were gorgeous and perfect we might not want to leave the earth and go to heaven that aging lets us let go. I thought that was a good answer.

  52. Outside of posture I have never really thought of the body as a resource. I am naturally clumsy and have physical issues. But before my time in the military I use to run a lot which was a way I communed with God and dealt with a lot inner pain. But it was not intential I did it because I could or was part of my military exercise.
    I could take meditative walks to commune with God. I do need to take better care of myself then I do.

  53. Growing up I was a competitive athlete–a high school and college wrestler. I trained basically for combat and competition.

    Today, I treat my body differently. I still train hard–perhaps not quite as hard as I am much older–but with a different mindset. One, my body is where the Holy One dwells. Two, I realize now that I am very special because I am a part of God; therefore, I take better care of this blessing of a body. I also train hard because I want to be there to serve others in love. My body is an instrument in that cause.

  54. As a child and young adult, my relationship with my body didn’t seem to be good or bad; it just was. I never hated it or loved it. I never paid much attention to it. In my 40’s, I realized that age was changing my body and that I had to give it more attention and plan exercise regularly to just have the energy and size that I thought was healthy. I wanted to keep up with my family, work, and church and knew I needed a kick-start on more energy and running did that for me. I ran 4 miles at least 5 times a week.

    As I aged, the running played it’s toll on my back and doctor’s told me to stop. I was really addicted to it and stopping was very difficult for me. I have developed some issues with not only my back, but with other issues as headaches, walking without falling and other issues as well..

    Now in my 60’s, I struggle to keep a float with my medical issues: acid reflux, cancer, neuropathy, varicose veins, etc. Swimming seems to be the only exercise that all doctors recommend.

    It is odd how as my body is having more physical issues, my spiritual body gets stronger. I keep my focus as I talk to God by remembering that although I have two braces to walk, I see so many who would love to stand if only with braces. God lifts me up when I otherwise would be looking down. Although I would not be truthful if I said I do not worry about my future health, but I believe I’m reacting naturally but doing what I can and however I can and leaving the rest to God.

    In my “Rule of Life” I have no choice but include my body in order to do the things I believe God still has left for me to do! I feel blessed.

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