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Free & Fit - The Adapted Sports Contemplative Tree

Free & Fit - The Adapted Sports Contemplative Tree

In Sport the freedom to move, when outside in nature, and in the midst of the Lords creation enables a process that drives our physical body into a new spiritual realm via a rush of blood, a release of endorphins and sensual emotions that ignites a new sense and awareness of our Spiritual self. Through perspiration and endurance, we can develop a closer relationship between our physical body and our spiritual selves. This is vital as we have a battle on our hands; one which cannot afford to be left alone. We are reminded by Paul in Romans Eight the cost of falling short; verse 13 says ‘For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13, Amplified version) 1 .

The combination of sweat and tears after a long run, whilst reflecting on scripture, together, creates an environment where prayer and praise become more accessible. Often after a long race a marathon runner can overcome fear, anxiety and distractions fully embracing the release and rush, of a runner’s high, that can mobilize prophetic thought, activate prayer and dialogue with our God among Christian believers. The key is to be able to identify how to do this and which scriptures we should be reading.

In Romans Twelve Paul explains to us that we should be aware, always, that we face a battel in the mind. Authors Dr Caroline Leaf and Pastor Joyce Mayor have both written books, “Switch your Brain On” and the “Battlefield of the Mind”, which help, support and create strong awareness of how all Christians have to put on the full Armor of God, as explained in Ephesians six, to win this battle.

Paul states “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God Edwards refers to the Day of Pentecost and the early Church when the people were touched by the Holy Spirit, despite linguistic and cultural differences, yet they could all communicate as one; Praising and Worshipping God (Edwards, 2010, p7). Rumi describes it as being a hypothetical place which is only accessible to the contemplative, and through prayer and meditation, is accessible to all. Time away from the distractions, the flesh and the mind, and alone with God. Rumi explains “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense (Edwards, 2010, p7).”

We are to pursue God with all our heart. Mark 12:30 says in the amplified version that we “SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (life), AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND (thought, understanding), AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’

Sport enthuses strength, through boxing, weight training and other forms of power form we can all grow in strength.However, it is imperative we understand where we are placing that power. Some Physical training is of value, but Spiritual training is of absolute value. We must chase after, pursue and fight to preach, teach and spread the word of God. Yet, by remaining sedate, sat down reading books and studying all day we can lose opportunities, we can lose site of where we are going and we can develop self-isolation and negative thought patters which are counter intellectual towards Gods word. Instead, as Christians we are called to follow Paul’s instructions, like which he gave to the Church in Phillipi.

In Chapter four of Philippians Paul said “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8, Amplified version). ”

Our bodies, our Minds and our Spirit need to be focused on God. Edwards explains “when the thinking mind bathes in the spiritual heart, what the mind then thinks is influenced by the heart’s purer connectedness with the living presence (Edwards, 2010, p12) 7 . Through the Movement and Meditation of Sport and Scripture the Contemplative Tree can be adapted to focus on the elements of physical exercise which release us into the heavens without fear or anxiety. As Paul instructs Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 he states that “God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self- control] (2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified Version). ” Through Exercise and Educating ourselves in Sport we can develop a spiritual practice of physical, mental and social health through the new adapted Sports Contemplative Tree.

Figure 1.1 Adapted Sports Contemplative Tree

Source: Author’s Own.

Figure 1.1 displays an adapted Contemplative Tree and provides a platform for new Sport & Spirituality practices which have been developed over the past year. The author started to explore four methods of Sports and Spirituality including Walking and the Word, Walk, Jog and Run with Prayer, Stretching and Conditioning and worship and workout through two weekend retreats and has since developed three further practices through individual and group exercise sessions. This year the author desired to explore further than these four including running and reciting scripture, hiking and hearing the word and exercising and educating others in the word. Additional methods included planking and prayer, High Intensity Interval Training sessions and healing, labyrinth walking, movement and mediation, Bible and Butt-kick's, Liturgy and Lunges and other various sports exercises and stretches.

Figure 1.2 Adapted Contemplative Practices.

Source: Author's Own.

The three new steps are Hiking and Hearing Gods word, Exercising and Educating and Running and Reciting the word of God. All three have been practiced as part of developing a further encounter to experience open access to the Holy Spirit and to encourage others to participate in Sports and Spirituality through building community and developing we to pursue after God’s word. Edwards provides practical and physical steps for us to engage with the Holy Spirit through practicing breathing, stretching, walking and physical activities. Edwards states that ‘God’s Spirit sometimes will bow best through our simple, childlike, unselfish-conscious and available presence (Edwards, 1995, p102) 11 . As a United Body of Christ, we must again follow Paul's teaching we must put on Perseverance in a mindset of thanksgiving when serving the Lord. Paul teaches the Church in Phillipi to put on perseverance.

“Therefore, we speak of you with pride among the churches of God for your steadfastness [your unflinching endurance, and patience] and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecution and [crushing] distress which you endure (2 Thessalonians 1:4 Amplified Bible (AMP) .”

Stay strong, seek to be Spirit filled and seek God through prayers, petitions and physical exercises in all moments. Remember to pray, to think and to apply yourselves in such a way as this. “Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. (Philippians 4:8, Amplified version) ”

In general Sport and spirituality “demonstrates a high degree of social and ecological awareness; it demonstrates a high degree of social and ecological awareness; it demonstrates a particularly useful attitude in understanding that life can be led as a reflective process of growth and transformation; and liberates spirituality from the confines of religious dogma and empowers direct personal experience (Perry 1992, p36 taken from Parry, J. Robinson, S. Watson, N.J. and M. 2007 14 ).

Spirituality continues to change, and challenge religious practices and it also creates opportunities to practice Sport as a spiritual exercise in the Christian practice of religion. It is possible through running marathons, hiking the mountains, walking pilgrimages, competitive sports, Yoga, Pilates and other contemplative and non-competitive practices that we can use exercise to gain access to God.

In conclusion, we must read and recite scripture through various methods in order to be able to gain a full and expansive experience and encounter with the Holy Spirit daily. Further research needs to be conducted into how these Sports and Spirituality practices can be developed and researched in community, fellowship and activity with fellow like-minded sporty Christians. This new practice of Sport and Spirituality creates opportunities for centering on the word of God, whilst improving physical, mental and social well-being and benefiting from an increase of endorphins and through exercise, perspiration and a meditative, yet active, state one can work out and worship with God.

The benefit of Sport and Spirituality creates opportunities for any religion, individual or group to benefit from an improved physical, mental and social well-being. The increasing desire to explore new ways to get closer to God is like that of a vastly changing and developing sports and spiritual industry. This changing climate also means that Christians can be open to explore new, yet perhaps traditional practices, to overcome obstacles such as decision making, lifestyle choices and reading the word of God. Bibliography Edwards, Tilden. Embracing the Call to Spiritual Depth: Gifts for Contemplative Living. Paulist Press, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0809146277, 164 pages Edwards, Tilden. Living in the Presence: Spiritual Exercises to Open Our Lives to the Awareness of God. Harper One, 1995. ISBN-13: 978-0060621278 164 pages Parry, Jim. Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction (Foreword by Shirl Hoffman) January 2007 Publisher: Routledge Editor: Jim Parry., Simon Robinson., Nick J. Watson and Mark Nesti Wigner, Dann E. Just Begin: A Sourcebook of Spiritual Practices. Church Publishing Incorporated, 2018. ISBN-13:978-1-64065062-6 233 page Websites Used: Bible Gateway, 2020. Source: Bible Gateway, 2020. Source: Bible Gateway. Source: Bible Gateway. Source: Bible Gateway. Source: Bible Gateway. Source: Bible Gateway. Source: Graphs Used: Figure 1.1 Adapted Sports Contemplative Tree. Source: Author’s Own Figure 1.2 Adapted Contemplative Practices. Source: Author’s Own.

Love & Blessings Tim & F&F Team

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About the Free & Fit Challenge

The Free and Fit course has been created to build strong social skills, charge healthy physical bodies and to instil a well balanced and sound mind. Participants who complete the full course over 12 sessions will learn how to work effectively with their team members to build strong values of power, love, and self discipline.

Free & Fit Mission

To reduce loneliness through Sports, the Arts, Social Justice and Service. Free & Fit Vision The vision of free and fit course is to engage, motivate, improve and hence find freedom in a physical and spiritual state. As such the freedom that leads to a peaceful heart; leads to a healthy body. The course is built upon the core value of learning together to be disciplined and motivated in our faith as well as our fitness.

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