How Exercise Changes Your Christian Meditation Experience

There is a constant struggle to improve the meditation experience among those of us who seek closeness with Jesus. Although, the heart wants to linger in a state of eternal tranquility with our Lord Jesus, the mind had it's own thoughts. Generally, in a battle between the mind and the heart, the mind wins. As thoughts of family, relationships, work, errands, financial situations, and school swirl around, the heart's intention to sit quietly with Jesus slowly fade away. Before you know it, 20 minutes have past, and what do you have to show for your efforts? 20 minutes worth of daily thought.

So how do we fix it? How do we go from our intention of wanting to sit silently with Jesus to actually dwelling in our Master Lord and Savior? (John 14:20)  Obviously, this question has to address the mind and its wanderings. There have been multiple studies that show that regular physical exercise help the brain perform optimally.

Namely, researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that increases heart rate and produces sweat, appears to also exercise the hippocampus, the brain function in charge of verbal memory, concentration, and learning abilities. Interestingly, weight training, muscle building, balance postures, and toning exercises did not have the same end result.

Exercise, Your Brain, Meditation, and Jesus

Exercise helps improve memory, concentration, and thinking. The improvements come from its ability to decrease insulin resistance, lower inflammation, and help the body naturally release hormones—molecules in the brain that maximize health of brain cells, enhance growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even multiply new brain cells with higher survival rates.

Indirectly, exercise can improve your sleep habit, boost your mood, reduces stress, and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause distraction while contributing to cognitive impairment. In other words, you won't be able to perform effective meditations.

More studies have definitively shown that the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex, the parts of the brain needed to control thinking and memory perform better and are found in greater quantity in people who exercise vigorously. 

Dr. Scott McGinnis, top neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and neurology instructor at Harvard Medical School stated, “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,”.

With these finding we can conclude that if our mind is healthy we can perform our meditations easier. So why, consult your doctor, and start working out! A good way to improve your mediation sessions is by first meditating and then exercising. Gradually your brain health will improve and so will your mediation.

The concentrating on God's word and dwelling in Jesus quietly will no longer be as difficult. Are you ready to try it?

Test It For Yourself

So how should you start? It's difficult to say which is exercise is right for you most research has analyzed walking. And according to Dr. McGinnis, “It’s likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits.” 

So how much exercise is required to improve your brain health? Participants walked briskly for one hour, twice a week showed promising results. Most standard recommendations advise at least a half an hour of moderate to rigorous exercise most days of the week, or about 150 to 170 minutes total per week. If that seems unreasonable, start with just a few minutes per day. The gradually increase the time you exercise.

Alternate exercises you can try include, stair climbing, swimming, dancing, tennis, or squash. All can be performed vigorously. Another way to get your sweat glands pumping is to join a class where you can meet with others and follow a routine.

The most important aspect of establishing an exercise habit and developing your mind is to commit to it. Establish a regular schedule that you can follow every day, or at least several times a week. Establishing habits like this is how we establish habits permanently.

Well, now it's to get started. Do your research and get started. We love you and we're praying for . God bless you, we're praying for you.


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