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Spiritual Training Cycle: Submission (wk. 6/13)

I remember my first de-load week. Back then, I used to design my own workouts, relying on ideas from magazines and the internet. Every program I read emphasized the importance of taking a break in the training cycle to rest and recover. Eager to excel in my fitness, I saw these weeks as opportunities to get ahead of those that needed rest. After all, I was young, eager, fit, and arrogant.

Eventually, I learned the hard way that my body had different plans. It stopped responding to my training, and my performance suffered. The impressive post-workout pump I used to flaunt was nowhere to be found. Frustrated and desperate, I did something I had sworn I would never do – I took a whole week off. Initially, it felt strange to be away from the gym, and I worried about losing my gainZ (yes, spelled with a "z" back then). Yet, surprisingly, that break proved beneficial. I slept better, felt rejuvenated, had a more positive attitude, and my muscles finally got the recovery they needed.

Since that experience, I've learned the value of regular de-loading, though nowadays, I prefer to take a more active approach. Overtraining can be detrimental to both the body and the mind, leading to issues like poor physical performance, hormone imbalances, mood swings, and even muscle mass and strength loss.

In fact, overtraining extends beyond the realm of fitness. Our lives are constantly under pressure too. Sometimes, we fail to recognize the true weight of it until we step away for a break. I've noticed that the first few days of vacation are just about decompression. We need to practice and be intentional about de-loading our lives because it's just as important as easing off our training load.

Life, like any sport, involves stress and pressure. We challenge ourselves in various aspects, whether it's work, relationships, responsibilities, or hobbies, putting our minds and souls under immense pressure to grow and improve. Similar to our bodies responding to de-loading in fitness, our lives need moments of relief to recharge and become stronger.

Taking breaks is one approach, but it often leaves us feeling fatigued shortly after returning to our usual routines. Another more effective option is to simplify our lives through the spiritual exercise of simplicity. Simplicity is letting go of unnecessary complexities and distractions in order to deepen your connection to God. Just like a simplified workout routine can lead to a well-rested body, simplifying our daily lives can lead to a well-rested soul.

Think back to a time when we had only a few TV channels to choose from. Picking something to watch was a breeze, and if nothing caught your interest, you'd find something else to do quickly. Now, with an overwhelming number of streaming services and thousands of options, decision-making becomes time-consuming and draining. This complexity and abundance of choices reduce the time and freedom we have to enjoy something as simple as watching TV.

Now imagine applying this complexity to your entire life – countless meetings, practices, meetups, hobbies, to-do lists, personal development pursuits, and more. Each brings its own stress and pressure, adding weight to our daily experience. When we practice simplicity, we’re saying “no” to more so that there is more left over for us. Simplicity creates margin in our souls that we can use for more important things like family, friends, and of course, our relationship with God.

Yet, despite the opportunity for more space for our souls, many of us find it difficult to say "no" to more. We keep piling on responsibilities, commitments, and experiences without realizing how it affects us in the long run. Simplifying our lives may seem daunting, but it is a powerful way to ensure our souls stay rested and our overall well-being thrives. The idea of saying “no” to more is difficult because we fear missing out or falling behind. But in the end, de-loading the soul may be just the active recovery your spiritual life needs. And simplicity can take you there.

Questions for Reflection:

When have you experienced a de-load moment, personally or professionally? What stands out to you about that experience?

What would you do with a more restful soul?

What is an area of life that you should start saying “no” to more?

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