The cheer of the crowd falls silent to his ears. The young, brown-eyed man digs deep into every ounce of his being. This is it…all his years of training, all his sacrifice comes down to this very moment. As the crowds jump around him in muted slow motion, a drop of sweat rolls down his face. The beating of his heart echoes through his mind. He is one with everything, yet there is no distraction…just him and a silent sense of knowing. With pure focus and a calm spirit he makes the play. The crowd nervously watches, but he knows he has delivered.

We have all seen this situation played out in the movies. We have listened to athletes as they explain “being in the zone.” We have heard the runner, the swimmer or the cyclist say, “It clears my mind and I feel alive.” But what are they all talking about? What truly is this “being in the zone” all about?

Simply put, it is the spiritual side of exercise.

We all know how physical movement affects our physical body, but have you ever thought how that same movement affects your mental, emotional and spiritual self? Physical movement creates a chemical and emotional shift in our mind-body state, which allows us to clear the clutter of our mind and reconnect deeper to our inner spirit, our true essence.

When athletes experience what they call “being in the zone,” they are actually in a state of meditation. In this state they are completely focused on the “now” of the moment. They have detached from the chaos of the mind and have reached a place of complete connection. In this state we become connected with our true self, feeding our spirit and allowing the natural process of life to unfold.

Experiencing this spiritual side of exercise allows you to calm and control your thoughts, increase your joy and peace of mind, improve your concentration and creativity, and reconnect with your true essence. Sounds too simple? Well, it actually is that simple. In our society we have filled our schedules with “busyness.” This chaos over time finds its way into our minds, creating more and more distraction from who we truly are meant to be in life. We race around so much that even after we lay down at night, we must take time to settle our still running minds.

Tapping into the spiritual side of exercise allows you to slow your mind and free yourself of distraction. By being in the now and detaching from the clutter in your mind, you not only reclaim your mind but you enter into a form of meditation. In this state of moving meditation, you can begin to reap many more benefits than simply losing weight or toning muscle. In this mind/body state, you will begin to build confidence, increase emotional stability, decrease restless and negative thinking, improve focus and clarity and bring your mind, body and spirit into harmony.

The word “Om” comes from the Hindu tradition. It is the sound all of nature makes when it is in perfect harmony. It is this “perfect harmony” we must strive for every day, and plugging into the spiritual side of exercise is essential!

But how do we embrace this spiritual side of exercise? Simply allow it to unfold. While many of us go into exercise as a way to seek a better-looking physique, I suggest you put it all into perspective. Allow the physical change in your body to be the reward. Look in the mirror and see the body you chose in spirit to have on this journey. If you have not treated this body as well as you could have, and as a result see the ill effects in the mirror before you, smile and forgive yourself. No Harm. No Foul. Tell your body that you appreciate how hard it has worked for you, even though you may not have always made the best choices for it.

If you dislike a part of your body, accept the dislike for what it is. Make the decision right here, right now, to see your physical form as something that deserves your love and make the appropriate changes. Make the changes because you are honoring yourself and your body, not because you wish to become something different. Then allow the process of exercise to unfold.

Give your mind permission to leave the worries of your life behind you. Do not get upset with yourself if you find them creeping back in. Simply acknowledge them and move past them. Focus on your breathing or the warmth of the sun as it shines down on you. Be aware of your body within the space that surrounds you. Notice your breath as it travels through your nose and into your lungs. Feel its warmth as this breath exits your mouth. No matter what the type of exercise you embark on, calm your being and allow your spirit to shine forth.

As you begin to allow yourself to enter into and feel the process of the deeper mind/body state during exercise, you will begin to notice the calm, connected feeling spill over into other parts of your day. This will result in a decrease of stress and a better sense of joy and peace of mind. You will begin to see an increase in your creativity and a more enthusiastic approach to life.

Detaching from the clutter of your mind through moving meditation and reconnecting to the spiritual side of exercise will illuminate your day and rekindle your soul!

Tara Patricia is a respected author and speaker in the field of Self Transformation. She holds a Master in Psychology with Advanced Post Graduate Studies in Clinical and Neuropsychology. Tara has worked for many years with families and suicidal adolescents. She considers her book The Road You Were Meant to Travel to be an individualized workbook full of direction and tools to help the reader fully experience life's exciting and rewarding journey.

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