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Flexing Those Spiritual Muscles

Flexing Those Spiritual Muscles

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In a moment of optimistic determination, I signed up for a three-month membership to "Changes for Women." Unlike a gym or other fitness center, the popular concept of this and other such centers is a circuit of several machines that participants stays on for no longer than 45 seconds each. Every machine is meant to flex, strengthen and build stamina in different muscle zones. Instructive signs provide direction all around the circuit.

Over the last several weeks, I've learned about different muscle zones that I never knew existed, like front, rear, anterior and side deltoids, rhomboids and glutes among such exotic sounding exercises as "pectoral fly" and "hip abduction."

The experience is enhanced by the variety of movements, clear guidance and the feeling that this is something you can tackle and succeed at. But the best part of the work-out by far, is that it only lasts 35 minutes!

"The more I come, the more energized I feel," a fellow workout companion enthuses. How noteworthy that the more we exert ourselves, the more we unearth a new reservoir of energy.

The sign above the front door was the finishing touch, compelling me to sign on the dotted line. It read simply: "Spend just 2% of your day, for yourself." That's quite a powerful sell in a day and age when most of us can barely even find the time to sneeze!

Working out on those machines made me think about how our spiritual wellbeing can also use a boost of stamina and flexibility.

I realized, too, that it doesn't require hours upon hours of introspective meditation or an exhaustive, spiritual revamping. With the investment of just a few, scattered seconds or moments throughout your day, along with clear guidelines, you, too, can strengthen your spiritual muscles and get in synch with your inner self.

Here's a list of my own suggested exercises, listed by duration, prescribed times, and spiritual zone exercised:

Exercise:

When:

Spiritual Muscles Used:

Duration:

How many times:

Say words of thanks to G‑d for the gift of another day of life

Immediately upon awakening

Introspection, connection with your Maker

15 seconds

Once a day, every morning

Say a blessing on your food or drink

Before eating or drinking

Gratitude and appreciation for what you have

2-5 seconds

Several times a day

Pick up the phone and say a kind word to your mother or father

Any time you have a spare moment (make sure you FIND that moment)

Kindness, honouring and respecting your parents

5-15+ minutes

As many times as you are able, depending on circumstances

Extend your arm and touch the mezuzah

Every time you pass a doorpost with a mezuzah

Awareness, reminder of your identity

3 seconds

1-100 times a day

Pray to G‑d or meditate

Morning, afternoon and evening

Synchrony with your inner self, evaluation of your priorities, developing a relationship with your Creator

8 min. to 1 hour+ depending on spiritual stamina

1-3 times a day

Give charity to someone who needs it, or drop a few coins in the charity box

Any time, especially before your prayers

Compassion, awareness of the plight of others

5 seconds (10 seconds if you need to allow time to find your wallet)

At least once a day

Sure there's a lot more that you can do. But be careful not to strain your spiritual muscles too much or you might get disheartened with the workout and give up altogether.

You might just be surprised at how an investment of a few seconds several times throughout your day can give you loads of spiritual energy while revitalizing your whole being.

How about spending 2% of your day for yourself, for G‑d and for all of humanity?


Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Anonymous Madrid, Spain February 15, 2008

Awesomely pointless? Doing good brings you closer to G-d, who is the source of all good. One can do good for any reason, even for self gratification, but the good which is commanded in the Torah is for G-d's sake only. Good connects you to G-d, and G-d connects you to good. And only G-d can tell you what is good and what is not. When you do good for G-d's sake, it will change your destiny. Reply

Boris Chicago, Il February 13, 2008

Awesomely pointless To be nice to people, to speak with love to your family and children one does not need any gods.
I live full of events and good deed. My work makes people richer, happier and more knowledgeable. I enjoy awesome family and friends and we have quality time together. We discuss most interesting things in the world and we do not believe in god. One of my friend is a "shaliah" and I love him as a person and from time to time I visit here as well as on other Jewish sites. Reply

chana weisberg February 13, 2008

short after meal blessings We have a fantastic Blessings Wizard here on our site. It can walk you through all that you need to know about each of the blessings, before and after meals. While it might take a little "training" to learn, it is worth the investment and you'll find yourself breezing through it after the initiation.

And here's where you'll find the shortest After-Meals Blessing: After Other Food. It is guaranteed not to take more than 20-50 seconds! Reply

Anonymous February 13, 2008

Flex those spiritual muscles Can you share short after meals blessings? While I know a non-denominational one in the vernacular I have no idea about Jewish ones other than the full grace after meals. Reply

Melody Masha Pierson Montreal, Canada February 13, 2008

That List! As a fanatical list maker...who does exercise and prays regularly, I thank you from the bottom of my neshama for this brilliant piece that is now on my list along with a recipe for no-guilt chocolate cake to print and put on my fridge. What a great way to re-frame the idea of the spiritual work-out! Reply

Patricia via chabadpasadena.com February 10, 2008

This is a brilliant article Chana. So many times I see people working out while listening to music on such a low level of vibration that they may be opening their lower energy centers only to limit the intake of energy in their higher realms.
Kind of like taking a yoga class with a personal belief system of being a victim. You might feel good for awhile and then the blockage manifests again.
You have clearly shown the need to awaken more than the mundane to ensure free flowing healthy energy.
Thank you. Reply

Chana Weisberg via mychabad.org February 10, 2008

To Hava There's a wonderful article that might give you some insight on this very topic. It is called Cookies and Apples: The Kabbalah of Addiction.
It speaks about exactly what you are asking--when we eat to fill an empty space within ourselves rather than to fill an actual hunger. Reply

Hava Brooklyn, NY February 10, 2008

Very useful but could you please consider posting something about today's Torah's teaching of self-restraint? I (and a lot of women-and men too) have serious issues with the yetzir hara and overeating probably as a way of filling up an empty space meant to be filled by G-d, not the stupor of excess food. I've gone to OA meetings in Borough Park run by extremely wise and spiritual (and so thin!) religious women- and I feel ( and they tell me) the answer is in the Torah- but I can't quite grasp the where and how to actually discipline myself without self-pity and eventual overeating. Thanks, Chana! Reply

bf February 7, 2008

Spiritual-Muscles [thurs. 7 feb. 2008] THANK YOU! Enjoyed and learned at the same Time! THANX! Reply

Jampa West Hartford, CT February 7, 2008

Spiritual muscle... Thank you for this wonderful column. I love the way Ms. Weisberg framed the spiritual "workout'. Sounds like a good program, thank you! Reply

M.H. Miami, Florida February 7, 2008

working out Chana, you've done it again! Taking our everyday whatevers and repackaging it for spiritual inspiration and growth. I've been attending such a gym for about 4 years and I've done that largely (no pun intended) because of that "take 30 minutes for yourself" marketing. Ironically, the branch of this gym nearest my home just closed--the owner, a non-Jewish woman named, of all things, "Tanya", wasn't making enough profit and couldn't continue. She told all of her religious clientel how bad she felt about leaving us stranded--she knew that most of us had no other modest (women only) place to work out. The next closest branch is about a 15 minute drive away, instead of about 8. Adding this factor to what you've said, I would have to say that the lesson for me is this. When you've become accustomed to your daily 6 minutes of morning blessings, 3 minutes of mezuzah kissing, etc., you just might need to "drive a bit further" in order to be taking care of your spiritual muscles. Thanks for the challenge! Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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