In Western societies, we silo the arenas of our life. To develop spiritually, you get involved with church, study the Bible and pray. To grow academically, you attend school. To grow emotionally, you may see a therapist. To establish stable finances, you find a job and develop plans for savings. To develop physically, you go to the gym and try to abide by certain eating habits.
We may feel like different people in each “silo” of our lives. The person you are at church may feel different than the person you are at work and different still from the person who shows up at the gym. However, we are holistic humans having a holistic earthly experience. If our bodies aren’t healthy, we cannot attend church or school. Increased movement of our bodies may increase brain blood-flow, allowing us to overcome emotional issues like depression. How can we integrate all arenas of our lives, so that we are holistically healthy? How can we better empower our minds, bodies and spirits to communicate and thrive as one? Here’s a rundown of inspiring ways Christians are working to answer these questions.
The Daniel Fast
This past January, Chris Pratt kickstarted the new year with the Daniel Fast. This 21-day commitment is based on the fasting techniques the prophet Daniel engaged with in the Bible. Fasters avoid meat, dairy, animal products, leavened bread, processed food and all beverages except water. They instead focus on eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and high-quality oils.
Rick Warren, Wellness Guru
A major influencer in the Christian wellness scene is Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Church. Warren’s ministries have been surprising holistic over the years to integrate in the overall bodily wellness of the individual. Here’s a quick overview of some the various ways Warren brings wellness into church communities:
- The Daniel Plan. In 2013, Rick Warren published the book The Daniel Plan (which is different from the above-mentioned Daniel Fast) in partnership with Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman. In recent years, The Daniel Plan has expanded to a lifestyle-wellness program that can be implemented in small groups and churches nationwide. The program works to integrate faith, food, fitness, focus and friends, recognizing that when all of these categories are healthy, an individual can thrive.
- Celebrate Recovery. Another powerful wellness resource born out of Saddleback Church is Celebrate Recovery. This 12-step program is designed to help participants overcome addiction, while also taking a very Christ-centered approach. Celebrate Recovery groups meet in churches nationwide and have proven to be powerful communities to help attendees establish sobriety from addiction.
- Hope for Mental Health. In 2013, Warren lost his son Matthew to suicide. In the aftermath of this great tragedy, Warren and Saddleback have been working tirelessly to remove stigma around mental illness and offer practical resources to Christians seeking mental health support. The establishment of Hope for Mental Health helps people locate counseling services. Additionally, the site is jam-packed with helpful articles, videos, audio recordings and webcasts all designed to promote theology-sound mental wellness.
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Your life is precious beyond measure, and we can’t imagine life without you. Even if your heart feels sad, or lonely, or hurting tonight; even if you feel there is no hope, no reprieve from the pain, no out for you; even if the dark feels oppressive and the light feels frightening – let me remind you, my friend, that there is no one like you on this earth. The breath in your lungs is a reminder of the purpose you possess! You don’t have to do or be anything… because you always are and always will be BELOVED. Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love! Romans 8:38-39
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Faith-inspired diets are not new to the Judeo-Christian faith. In the Old Testament, God’s Chosen People abided by kosher diets. In this tradition, pork, shrimp, lobster and rabbit are avoided. Dairy and meat are not to be mixed together. Additionally, there’s ample consideration given to ensuring that food is clean with great attention given to fully removing blood from meat. Although Jesus’ death and resurrection led Christians to move away from Jewish traditions, including kosher diets, there remain some Christians who find value in the dietary lifestyles detailed in the Old Testament. Messianic Jews accept Jesus as their Messiah, but also practice Jewish traditions including often keeping kosher diets. Another example of Christians embracing kosher diets was detailed in the best-selling book The Maker’s Diet by Jordan S Rubin. After nearly dying from Crohn’s disease, Rubin eventually discovered that eating a kosher diet as well as eliminating chemical toxins held the key to his personal wellness.
Seventh-day Adventists’ Vegetarianism
The longest lifespan of Americans can be found in Loma Linda, CA, a quiet suburb on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Residents are 10 times more likely to live to 100 than the average American. Loma Linda is home toa very high population of Seventh-day Adventists; one-third of the city’s residences. Seventh-day Adventists believe that their body is a temple and consider healthy lifestyles to be an integral part of their Christian faith. They abstain from alcohol, tobacco and eating meat. They also view exercise as a spiritual practice. The lifestyle proves very effective for maintaining health for the long-term.
Maximizing your health also ideally encourages you to find 150 minutes a week to exercise. Church buildings can be wonderful gathering spots for exercise classes. The Holy Yoga movement integrates yoga’s challenging poses and meditation techniques with Christian theology. It’s common for participants to unite their voices together in worship songs while also building strength and flexibility in these fitness classes, which are held at churches nationwide.
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Heart, soul, mind, and strength- all holistically integrated through the One who created our being. . In our upcoming online Thriving- the yoga of integrated faith series, you will be equipped with the proper tools so that you are able to prosper in all seasons, grow deeply and flourish as sons and daughters of the King. . By focusing on each aspect of our being and its role in living the abundant life, we can identify what is cutting in our walk with God and discover how to realign our lives in such a way that we are healthier heart, soul, mind, and strength. . Some of our greatest wounds can come through others–but also our greatest healing. Through authentic, Christ-centered community we not only learn more about ourselves but can discover our belovedness in God’s eyes. . Included in this series are 4 LIVE, interactive webinars taught by 4 different instructors (these will be recorded and emailed every week), along with weekly bonus materials like yoga flows, recorded meditations and more to enhance your overall experience. . For more information and to register, go to: https://holyyoga.net/how-to-thrive/ . Also, swipe left to hear personally about this series from @brooke_boon!
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We’re so encouraged to see churches embrace healthy eating, fitness and mental wellbeing as a part of their ministries and hope to see more congregations bring these wellness practices to their communities.