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In 2013, I had my first encounter with the Supple Leopard. If you’ve been in CrossFit a minute, you know who that is. For those new to the sport, I’m talking about Kelly Starrett. Starrett is a Physical Therapist, CrossFit coach, and founder of MobilityWOD. I happened upon one of his videos in search of some relief for my shoulder. A few clicks later there was Starrett, a.k.a. the Supple Leopard, holding a lacrosse ball in his hand. Next thing I know, he’s lying on the ground with this ball smashed in his lat muscle talking about how tight lats can limit range of motion in the shoulders. Suffice it to say, I quickly made an investment in the lacrosse community and purchased one of these torture devices. After a few sessions and a few million tears, my shoulder opened up and returned to its full range of motion. I quickly pledged my allegiance to the Leopard and began my study of biomechanics.

Biomechanics is the science of movement of a living body. As a coach, it’s vital for me to know how humans move. As an athlete, it’s vital for me to know when my movement is off. Everyone benefits from the study of movement because it’s the foundation for learning exercise. Take the squat for example. Visualize the relationship between the hip, the knee, and the ankle. Notice how they are all connected and moving together? As the hip travels back and the knee and ankle respond through flexion, the athlete should find their body weight resting primarily in their heels while maintaining an upright chest. But do I see that every day in the gym? Hardly. Athletes end up on their toes with their heels off the ground. They end up looking at the mat at the bottom of their “squat,” but they’re actually just bending over. It’s ok, we’ve all been there before. But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll miss it. Biomechanics help diagnose the issue, which reveals the opportunity.

Let’s apply the same concept to our spiritual lives and look at spiritual biomechanics. We’re studying movement here as well, only now we’re looking at the soul. A healthy soul is connected to God, to others, and to the world. A healthy soul moves through life at a slower speed. Hurry and busy and over planned are the enemies of a healthy soul. Most people don’t realize their spiritual movement is even limited. Much like my shoulder issue, they’re walking around missing out on the opportunity to live the fullest richest life possible. In short, they need some mobility work on their soul.

I think we all do. There are things that happen to us which weaken these connections. Having to travel again for work, feeling ignored by your spouse, the loss of a loved one, life can leave your soul feeling disconnected. But you won’t feel this disconnection unless you know what connection really feels like. That’s why I’m so big on spiritual biomechanics. You’ve got to discover what “good” actually is. It’s not a four-letter word you use to hide your true feelings. It’s the result of a deep and meaningful connection to God. It’s shalom. When these connections need to be strengthened, use some spiritual mobility to do some stretching. Start by stretching your beliefs and ask yourself why. Why are you holding so tightly to certain views? Why does feeling insignificant cause you to act out or hide out? Or you might need to stretch some behaviors. If scrolling your social media feed leaves you feeling disconnected from the other humans in the room, stop scrolling. If your kids’ activities leave no room for down time each week, dial them back. If life has you couped up in your house all day, go for a walk. Prioritize the things that restore your most meaningful connections and become a master of your spiritual biomechanics.

Questions for Reflection:

What does being connected to God feel like to you?

Describe someone with a healthy soul. How does that description compare to you?

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