Exercise Gets Me Higher, Step by Step

I get such a high while exercising that I can’t imagine why I haven’t done this more often in life.

I’ve been running on a treadmill for 20 to 25 minutes four and five times a week and discovered a lightness manifesting throughout my body, particularly in my head, as I pass a point where tiredness ends and a routine kicks in. Energy is created almost out of nothing. Winter’s blahs and accompanying depression disappear and I feel renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated.

But I couldn’t have done this by myself. My physical therapist at a veterans’ hospital encouraged me to exercise after complaining of back, hip and groin pains. Heather, the therapist, placed me on an exercise bike and off I went, pedaling away, pushing myself to a cardio uplift. Unfortunately, I failed to adjust the bicycle seat, and by the second outing on the bike, I ripped my hind parts. Yeah, I tore something at the top of my butt, ending whatever chances I had for the road to recovery by the bike method.

That’s when I switched to the treadmill. And I started saying a mantra to get me through one step at a time.

The mantra is actually taken from the Catholic Mass. It was the only Greek used in the service when priests used Latin. It’s called the Kyrie Elieson, “Lord have mercy!” and the Christe Elieson for “Christ have mercy!” (See Description)

Now I don’t really pray. I don’t visualize Christ or even think of what I am saying. I use the cadence of the words to help me forget each step I take on the treadmill. I vary the speed. I start with a quick version, with each chant taking no more than two or three seconds. I speak a syllable of each word as my right foot strikes the treadmill, corresponding with what I imagine a “two-step” beat would sound like.

I slow it down to four counts per beat, or four steps per syllable. Then I take it a step further, trying to stretch out the number of steps between words to 16, 20 or even 24. I feel a certain flow start to develop. I focus on the beat, and soon begin to feel the “Lord” and“Christ” in each step, in each feel of the handle I’m holding, and in each heartbeat.

Sweat begins to develop at the crown of my head. Beads form on my forehead, slowly dripping down my face. Sweat then arises near my sideburns, the front of the sideburns. I am now multitasking with my focus, aware of the prayer that is not a prayer as well as the sweat that is really a sweat.

Soon, I feel the sweat from the back of my head at the base of my hair. It feels good! I feel I have somehow arrived at a point in the exercise where I pushed myself enough to literally “work up a sweat.”

It is then that this lightness of being manifests itself. I imagine endorphins hatching someone inside, making a beeline straight through my lungs and into my head, clearing whatever obstructions blocked my “well-being” on their way.

I am alive! I am energized! I am cleaner and purer and . . . higher than I had been just a short 20 to 25 minutes earlier. And thanks to the mantra, I’ve not noticed the time go by. I open my eyes, look at how long I’ve been at this, and get an extra “rush” as I see that 22 or 23 minutes have gone by. It is time now to cool off, turn down the speed, and slowly walk to the finish line feeling like a brand new man in a brand new world.

6 comments on “Exercise Gets Me Higher, Step by Step

  1. souldipper says:

    Okay, okay, Michael J. Here I am reaching for my runners. I have on my support stockings and will turn off my desk light. A good hike before I eat my mid-day meal. (lacing shoes now) I’ll use the Aramaic “I Am” that Jesus spoke…don’t know how to spell it, but it sounds like “Enoch, Enoch” – said in pairs like that. Helps remind me to look, feel and be NOW.

    Catch ya later…Mwaaaah.


    • contoveros says:

      I like it, I like it! Exercising while creating good merit with a favorite mantra is the best way to stay healthy and in the good graces of you know Who!


  2. Gloria says:

    The Kyrie!
    Great idea.
    Just think about how many people prayed that same prayer through the centuries before us.
    I like the idea of oneness with our ancestors.

    Who would have thought it would be a great exercising mantra!


    • contoveros says:


      Do you think the uncircumcised Greeks, who the Jews turned to when their own Jewish countrymen did not embrace the new religion, would have used the mantra at the Olympics?

      I like to think so, and am happy that my forefathers came up with the name “Christ” to apply it to Jesus.

      Hey! When are we going to commemorate Padre Pio’s life at his American shrine in Barto, PA, again? I’d love to exercise on the grounds that you help to spruce up with your plantings.

      Michael J


  3. What a wonderful description of how a great workout can feel! I, too, “failed” at biking. It was a spin class, my first and last. Love the treadmill, and I feel like I don’t really hit my stride till about 10 minutes in. That seems to be when I finally break a sweat (I like you’re description better, though). Keep it up! 🙂


    • contoveros says:

      I agree and I really don’t “hit my stride” until 10 minutes or so. But, once you break through it becomes easier to forget the slight discomfort and continue to the end goal. What a sense of acomplishment!


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