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We’ve all heard about the physical benefits of exercise, but did you know it can also be good for our souls? Though spirituality means different things to different people, at its core is a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves that fills us with awe and provides us with meaning and purpose. Cultivating that sense of connection requires practice, and one way to practice is through exercise.

As Dr. Stephanie Ludwig, Director of Spiritual Wellness for Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort so aptly put it, “to exercise is to move, and to move is to be alive. The more intentionally we move and experience the connection that is available through it, the more alive we become.” The key is to move with intention.

Any form of movement (i.e., exercise) will do. The goal is to stay in the moment, to be and remain in the here and now. When you first start exercising you might notice a myriad of thoughts pop into your head. You might start thinking about all the things you still need to do or all the things you didn’t do that you should have done. Rather than be in the present, you find yourself either dwelling on the past or planning for the future. When this begins to happen, shift your focus from your thoughts to the rhythmic movements of your body.

Focus on your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen as you breathe. Listen to the sound of the air as it enters and leaves your body. Feel the beating of your heart in your chest. Attend to the movement of your arms and legs and the placement of your hands and feet. Notice your surroundings. Hear the sounds. Smell the smells. See the sights. Know that because you are breathing and moving you are alive and well.

Over time, with regular practice you will begin to attain a heightened sense of awareness and achieve an unwavering connection to that which is greater than yourself whether for you it is nature, the universe, the sublime, the divine or God. Through exercise it is possible to experience a spiritual awakening. All it takes is a little practice.