A satisfying approach to physical fitness

While at school, I developed a love for sport—running, mountain biking, circuit training (calisthenics). I appreciated the mental refreshment, stimulation, and inspiration these activities gave me, which were especially useful at exam time. Although I didn't realize this until much later, the generally acknowledged benefits of exercise—reshaping one's body, and muscle conditioning in particular—became a god to me as time went on. The desire for an improved body was only accentuated when, during my first months at university in 1993, my eating habits caused my weight to jump 20 percent. Dissatisfied with my appearance, I found my self-confidence beginning to erode.

I had recently started studying Christian Science, and I searched Science and Health at first for a quick fix.

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Over the next several years, I vacillated between regular intense workouts and prayer. In time, this seemed like a divided loyalty: On the one hand I was entirely focused on my perceived need to reshape my body through exercise, and on the other, I was regularly declaring that matter, in this case the physical body, had no power over me. Not surprisingly, the results were disappointing.

In other spheres of life, however, Christian Science was becoming more important to me. From a healing of flu, to finding vacation, employment, and places to live, to successfully getting through exams, the truths I was learning were proving reliably effective.

After five years, I finally realised that my motives for exercising—out of fear and an obsessive concern with my girth—didn't support what I was learning in Christian Science. I felt as though I was working from two opposing standpoints—one material, one spiritual.

At that point my approach began to change. In the Bible and Science and Health, I studied some of the spiritual qualities that are expressed in sport—joy, discipline, progress, stamina, freshness, vigor, movement, motion, peace, refreshment—and saw these as qualities of Soul, or God. Now, before each exercise session, I affirmed that my motive was to express Soul, and not to reconfigure my body. Initially, this seemed self-hypnotic, but the truths I was learning about my spiritual existence as God's expression became more real to me, and gradually the material motives dropped away. Then extra responsibilities at work, and increased demands at university, resulted in less time for sport. But I didn't fear the possible physical consequences, and none occurred—I didn't gain excess weight and remained in good form.

In 2001, while I was attending a two-week camp for young Christian Scientists, I was reading Mary Baker Eddy's book Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 and came upon a question posed to her on page 47: "How can I believe that there is no such thing as matter, when I weigh over two hundred pounds, and carry about this weight daily?" In terms of understanding this issue of physicality, I'd hit the jackpot! Reading and re-reading Mrs. Eddy's short answer reminded me of the Bible's account of Jacob wrestling with an angel, or message from God—I refused to stop reading until the answer was clear. Statements such as ". . . substance means more than matter," and "In Science, body is the servant of Mind, not its master: Mind is supreme" suddenly rang with meaning. In a flash, I saw that just as the image in the mirror is determined by what the original in front of the mirror is and does, I, as God's reflected image, was governed by Him. My substance was controlled, not by fear, food, or personal physique, but by God, my very Life. The source of my confidence was the understanding that Soul was master and my body was servant, and not the other way around.

I was free! A mental sentence was lifted—I no longer feared the adverse effects of not exercising, and my zeal for it faded. I suddenly realised that over the last couple of years I'd lost all the weight I needed to. Today, I can and do read articles on sport and fitness, but am able to separate out the matter-based theories and maintain spiritual identification as my focus.

The further lesson of this experience, for which I am so grateful, is, Hang in there with your prayer—don't give up. Healing will come!

Alexander Workman
London, England

The healings we publish are verified by individuals who can vouch for the testifier or who know of the healing.

December 29, 2003

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