We got Cheryl and Wii Fit for her birthday last week. It's a total hoot, with all kinds of silly games that, if you follow the instructions, actually give you a good workout. The games include some yoga movements -- most of which cannot actually be done in our basement without crashing fingers into the ceiling. But the ones that can be done feel surprisingly good. I've long thought that yoga would be good for me because I am among the least flexible people ever. I suppose I make up in "closed-bodyness" for my open-mindedness! In any case, stretching and breathing deeply is a lot more invigorating than I would have guessed.
Alas, my Wii Mii is a rather squat fellow because the sweet voice of the Wii tells me that I need to loose weight. No surprise in that, but did my doppelganger have to get so rotund so quickly?
Ah, well, perhaps by Pentecost he will have slimmed down a bit.
In the meanwhile, I'm stretching body and spirit in a 40-day journey with Sister Joan Chittister. I'm following a little book that is one of Augsburg Press's 40 Day Journey With ... series.
I began this morning, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the first reading concerns the nature of spirituality. Sr. Joan writes, "Spirituality is about the hunger in the human heart. It seeks not only a way to exist, but a reason to exist that is beyond the biological or the institutional or event the traditional."
Those words leaped out at me this morning because I'd just read Michael Gerson's column in the Post, in which he responds to neuroscientist Andrew Newburg's new book, How God Changes Your Brain.
Using brain imaging studies of Franciscan nuns and Buddhist practitioners, and Sikhs and Sufis -- along with everyday people new to meditation -- Newberg asserts that traditional spiritual practices such as prayer and breath control can alter the neural connections of the brain, leading to "long-lasting states of unity, peacefulness and love."
In other words, some combination of my reflections with Sr. Joan and Wii Fit breathing my lead me to be more loving. Hm ... time will tell.
The more challenging part of Newberg's findings, as Gerson reports them, comes with the insight that the kind of God one imagines determines the part of one's brain that is strengthened through religious practice. In other words, if one imagines a God of love, the part of one's brain where empathy resides. On the other hand, if one imagines a God of wrath the part of the brain where aggression resides is strengthened.
As Gerson puts it, "The God we choose to love changes us into his image, whether he exists or not."
As for me, I'm holding fast to the God of love I know through Jesus. No other god is worthy of my time -- especially if such a god is going to get inside my head and rot my brain!