It was a Friday afternoon. There must have been about forty or more of us gathered in the large room, floor-to-ceiling mirrors covering the surrounding walls. Despite the weariness and lagging energy that comes after a long and full week, we were moving energetically, following the exacting—and strenuous—commands of the auburn haired woman facing us in the front of the room.

"Higher," Melissa shouted. As she walked through the room to examine—and reprove—each of us, we sheepishly struggled to please her.

"Faster," went her next charge as we strained ourselves further. "C'mon, you can do better than that!" she continuously admonished. "Further…deeper…stronger!"

"Now hold your positions," our taskmaster demanded. I noticed the painful grimace on the facial expressions of many of the others, myself included. But despite her gruelling insistence of moving us at a dizzying pace and forming all types of twisted and convoluted shapes, none of us dared to disobey her. The more she pressed us on, the greater we labored to meet her onerous directives.

Despite her gruelling insistence of moving us at a dizzying pace, none of us dared to disobey her.

Were we in some kind of enforced boot camp, being punished for some heinous crime?

No, we were a group of middle class, suburban women who were here entirely on our own volition. In fact, after an hour of this arduous treatment, most of us even approached Melissa before leaving to thank her. Moreover, we had even paid a membership due for the privilege of being in this room and follow her directives.

We, like scores of men and women around the world, were in an exercise class offered by our fitness center. Precisely due to her taxing demands, Melissa was one of the favourite and most sought-after instructors.


Not at all.

Not when you consider that we understood that the discipline that she demanded of us was entirely for our own benefits—to provide us with the strength and energy of a healthy physique. We realized her expertise and therefore didn't doubt each of her demands or distrust the particular techniques she employed. And we understood too, that this was something valuable enough to clear some time even on a busy Friday afternoon.

Perhaps, something to consider on any of the many occasions when we may feel lethargic about performing some of the spiritual pulls and pushes of our day—exercises designed especially for our benefit, to strengthen our spiritual well-being.