In “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. John Ratey, studied the benefits of exercise on the body, mind and soul. Dr. Ratey’s conclusion is that exercise not only helps us develop physically, but also mentally and spirituality. Dr. Ratey found that physical training ignites the “spark of our spirit” as it:
“Is one of the best treatments for psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression and ADHD.”
“Conditions our brains to learn, to concentrate and to remember.”
“Makes a person more resilient to stress.”
“Gives inner strength to reclaim ourselves from the effects of addiction.”
“Pulls us more into the moment, enriching the time that we have, and can extend our lives by as much as 4.5 years.”
“Provides a side door to reality. It is not a directly spiritual practice like mediation and prayer, however, it provides similar benefits. We do the work and trust the outcome to our recovery time, our nutrition and the support that we get from our community.”
“Links the mind, the emotions and the body. When combined with honest reflection, exercise can build emotional awareness and resilience. Trauma (both physical and emotional) is stored simultaneously in our memories as well as our body tissues. Exercise is part of gently working through these physically stored emotions. In this way, exercise can help rewrite our story.”
When I read Spark I was thrilled as Dr. Ratey confirmed, through years of studies, what I knew I was experiencing at the gym: the positive effects on my body, mind and spirit. I could see the development and positive aesthetic changes to my appearance. Those changes were undisputable. I also recognized that the way I was thinking was radically changing along with my physical body. Since I have no training in psychology or mental health, I could not prove that these changes were real, nor could I articulate very easily what I was experiencing and why.
Spark lays it out in an amazingly clear and succinct way. Spark explained the relationship between physical and mental well-being, the creation of hormones that change our way of thinking, and how we perceive the world around us.
I have personally experienced each and every conclusion outlined in Spark. It’s not speculation; it’s science. As Dr. Ratey concludes, addiction has physical and mental components. By incorporating exercise into your overall recovery plan, you can ignite the spark of your spirit.
Move a muscle, change a thought and connect spiritually with yourself and others.
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