I hadn’t worked out in years. And ironically, I also hadn’t connected to my Spirituality for just as long.
Even though I was physically active since high school and throughout my twenties, I did some physical activity, particularly volleyball. But, here I was, a mom of four, running a full-time business, and married, and completely engulfed by the role of the caregiver.
Regardless, my last baby was almost two, and I had a strong urge to move my body more. My self-esteem and self-love were pretty low. I used to wear clothing that would pretty much hide my body.
I look back at the pictures and see a woman wearing long flowy skirts and loose tops. There is nothing wrong with those, but I wore them for a specific purpose. Hide, go unseen as much as possible.
So, I began to jog a handful of times a week, and the endorphins, time away on my own, even if it was 20 minutes, and doing something for myself felt good. I was getting a little taste of who I was once again.
Eventually, I joined one of those fitness groups for moms to be “around” (even though it wasn’t in-person) with other moms who were getting their fitness on. And there was a mom in there whose strength and confidence I admired greatly.
She had some similarities to me, in that she had four kids and her own business, but the difference was that she lifted weights and she was physically strong. She had made her make-shift gym since she didn’t have childcare, and she did lifts like squats, deadlifts, kettlebells, and benching. I wanted some of the je ne sais quoi that she had.
So one day, I got the courage to message her and ask her how I could get started lifting weights. She said, “Go heavy. Just start lifting, and add more weights as you go, and lift heavy.”
And with that bit of wisdom, I got a local gym membership and started lifting. I started with squatting and adding 2-5 lbs each week. I felt so much joy when I got to 95lbs and when I eventually got to 135 lbs, which to me at the time signified physical strength as it was close to my body weight.
Knowing that my husband would not agree to us paying for a trainer for me, I instead bought a book on lifting weights and began teaching myself how to lift correctly.
It’s been years since those early days, and I’ve gone to barbell trainers to improve my technique, but most of what I learned about lifting was self-taught—showing me the ability that I had to create for myself a way to do something that I had never done before.
Eventually, I learned about powerlifting, a male-dominated sport, as I got stronger. Then, I attended a powerlifting meet (aka competition) and got hooked by the vibe and the sportsmanship of the event.
I signed up for my first powerlifting meet, which was incredibly nerve-wracking, but I wanted to prove that I could do it. At one of the meets, I set a State record for drug-free powerlifting for my squat and my deadlift in my weight and age group. I’ll never forget that day.
My strength was improving, but many other benefits came with lifting weights.
Becoming physically stronger turned out to be a catalyst to my spiritual re-awakening. And lifting weights became part of my spiritual practice.
Is Working Out a Spiritual Practice?
My lifting went from solely being physical to spiritual. It improved my mind, body, and my soul. Lifting became a part of my spiritual practice and still is today.
6 Ways that Lifting Weights is Part of a Spiritual Practice
1) Mind, Body, Spirit Connection
One important rule in lifting weights is connecting your mind and your body. It’s very easy to feel that you can’t lift the weight on the bar, and in turn, not be able to lift it because you already failed before even starting. Meaning, what you place in your mind will affect your ability to lift the weight.
But, not only does the mind and body connection make or break your lift (or how you feel after, even if you didn’t make the lift), but you must also use your mind to be hyper-aware of your body.
For example, when I’m about to squat heavy, I’m very aware of:
breathe and the power of it,
my body’s ability to brace and support me as I lift,
the placement of my feet, my hands, legs, and how I’m holding myself,
my ability to maintain the weight,
thoughts in my mind, and as a result, also aware of how my spirit is feeling in the moment.
Mind and body awareness and connection are essential in lifting and your spiritual practice, as our mind can make or break how we feel about our body and the emotions and actions we take.
2) Emotional Release
A lot was going on in my personal life during this time that felt overwhelming, frustrating, and dissatisfied. But, lifting heavy weights served as a form of emotional release. I often refer to it as a form of therapy.
There have been times where I processed a strong negative emotion I was experiencing by bringing it to the forefront right before a lift, and for lack of better terms, lifting it away through the grind.
It’s a somatic experience where I get to experience and release emotions in my mind and body.
3) Belief in Self
Part of spiritual practice is believing in yourself and inner wisdom. And when lifting, one must believe in their ability to lift.
Lifting weights is about the ability to explore what your body is capable of lifting, whether it’s 5 lbs or 500 lbs, but that you are lifting what you didn’t think you could.
In spiritual practice, you practice the ability to tap into your inner wisdom. Like lifting, at first, there may be doubts of your ability to do so, yet you prove to yourself repeatedly that you can.
None of this is to say that you must lift weights to have a fulfilling spiritual practice. But simply that lifting weights gives you the ability to believe in yourself, and the experience of that can fuel your power (as it did for me) to believe in your ability to connect to your higher self.
It would help if you believed in your greatness to have a solid spiritual practice. At first, you may not believe in your abilities, but the more you practice, the stronger they become.
When I lift and believe in my ability to do so, I connect in mind, body, and spirit to my belief in self.
4) Learning to Love Self
I adore with a passion that powerlifting has nothing to do with your appearance. Your weight or height has no impact on your ability to lift weights.
You never have to meet any weight or height requirements to win at lifting weights.
And guess what does not care about your outward appearance? Your spiritual practice.
Lifting weights allowed me to love who I was, both inside and out.
I am not the strongest, the most beautiful, the fittest, nor the more muscular woman in my gym, by any means. But, I am the most to myself. And that’s what matters. So, I’m focused on comparing myself to the version of myself (and only myself) from yesterday and improving to my best self.
5) Paving a Unique Path
Most of the learning and progress as a powerlifter and lifting weights was self-taught. I paved the path to my growth and my success.
In spiritual practice, you won’t get far relying on gurus to be your motivation. And believe me, I’m sure you have seen by now the many, many spiritual gurus who market themselves as the ones having the “key” to your healing.
When lifting weights, no one but you can lift the weight. And same goes with Spirituality. No one but you has the key to your healing and your progress. You are your guru, your healer.
Lifting a barbell with weights is done by me and only me. It’s a parallel to how I view my spiritual practice.
6) Knowing I Have Abilities Others Didn’t See in Me
People will often time hold a version of you and your limitations that are not necessarily true.
When I began lifting weights, I was a busy store owner with four kids who often came with me to my work. One thing busy moms didn’t do was lift heavy weights, let alone powerlift.
And being in a male-dominated sport also meant as a woman, most people at the gym didn’t understand why I was lifting heavy. I had people say things like, “You’re going to start looking like a man if you keep going.” (That came from both men and women).
But I had to stay true to what I knew I was capable of inside of myself and also outwardly.
It’s sad but true that in your spiritual practice, and as you begin to grow as a person, there may be those around you that don’t believe in you or that diminish or demean what you know to be true about your abilities.
But remember to stay your course, stay true to yourself and your practice, and be guided by your inner wisdom.
So it’s in many ways how lifting weight is part of my Spirituality as I experience this regularly.
What Does Exercise Do to You Spiritually?
While I’ve written that lifting weights is a part of my spiritual practice, any exercise you choose can be part of your spiritual practice.
Moving your body, challenging yourself and your abilities, and connecting your mind, body, and spirit will be similar to what you do inwardly in your Spirituality.
Exercise can become a catalyst to your Spiritual growth. It can serve as a way to emotionally release, connect to your mind, body, spirit, know yourself in ways others do not, have a strong self-belief, pave a path for your growth, and remind you of your greatness.