- Posted by Guest Blogger
- On January 24, 2023
By: Emily Patteson
My life began changing a few years ago with a decision which introduced me more deeply to one important person: Mary.
When I found the apostolate of SoulCore, I was in need of mental healing in my relationship with exercise, emotional healing from grief and loss, and physical healing from a fertility issue. I’m not even sure I can say that “I found” SoulCore as much as I was led to it. Two years prior, I made a very pivotal decision to consecrate my life to Jesus through Mary. I joined a group of friends in reading “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Michael E. Gaitley and was consecrated on January 1st, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. As a result, my life began to shift in many ways. Among other things, I signed up for my first marathon and ended up injured. This helped me recognize my need for healing in my relationship with exercise. I also met my husband and was engaged to him before the end of the year. When I suffered from a miscarriage shortly after we were married, the only thing that offered me solace was to gaze on a beautiful image of “Mary the Undoer of Knots”. And when I was in the midst of my fertility journey, and deeply desiring another child, the Pietá statue my husband gifted me for our wedding offered great comfort. As I sought healing in these areas, I began practicing SoulCore. I attended a Virtual Discovery Retreat shortly after and became a SoulCore leader. There is no doubt in my mind that Mary led me to this apostolate and has used it to help me experience healing.
Mental Healing from a Bad Relationship with Exercise
I have always been a runner. I ran cross country and long-distance track from middle school all the way until college when I competed as an NCAA Division I athlete. When I completed my undergraduate tenure, I naturally continued running. Unfortunately, so did the injuries that had plagued me since high school. I signed up for one race after another only to be sidelined while training for each one. For my final race I signed up for, I was insistent on racing despite my latest injury. Running a marathon had always been a goal of mine. I explained to my then-boyfriend that runners always exist on a scale somewhere between healthy and injured and that I had been existing closer to injured for most of my running career. This was a red flag that my relationship with exercise was not balanced. I did not treat my body well. I valued performance over health and had run my body to the ground without taking care of it. In the competitive world of female running, this was normal, but it did not have to be my normal.
I sold my bib and decided to take some much-needed time off. I wanted to let the Lord show me how to treat my body well by exercising for health rather than performance. I needed to learn how to take care of and honor the one body He had given me. As an athlete, I knew that God would lead me to another fitness endeavor that I could dedicate myself to. After trying many different things, I took my first SoulCore class and knew that this was it.
Practicing SoulCore has changed my view of exercise drastically. After completing my first SoulCore rosary I wrote this reflection: “Upon taking my first class, I recognized a shift in my mind regarding exercising. It was always: ‘this is something to get through’ and ‘I can’t wait to be done’…I shifted to ‘I am enjoying this’ and ‘be in the moment and grow with Jesus here.’ It became less of something to get done with and more of something to immerse myself in…The practice of prayer accompanied by exercise helped me to see, too, that my most important fitness is that of my soul.” I began to see exercise as a way to care for the whole person rather than strictly focusing on performance. This freed me to listen to and care for my body with each movement. The change I felt after that first class has led to deeper and deeper healing during each class I have taken and led since.
Emotional Healing from Miscarriage
As I mentioned earlier, after consecrating myself to Mary, I met my husband and in quick succession got engaged, married, and then pregnant with our first child. Unfortunately, this did not lead to a happy delivery. Instead, I ended up in the emergency room in terrible pain with my new husband sitting at the end of my bed praying the rosary. In the wake of this loss, I struggled to do much, even pray. I felt peace, as I mentioned, gazing at an image of “Mary Undoer of Knots.” It was in this place of needing healing and seeking Mary’s intercession that I came to find SoulCore.
Initially, I was hoping mostly for a healing of the body. Even though I miscarried naturally, it was still a lot for my body to go through. However, what surprised me was the emotional healing that occurred. In combining the gentle movement with prayer, I could slowly feel healing occurring. Through uniting myself to Mary as the mother of Christ, I was able to acknowledge the pain and reality of what had happened and grow through it. Uniting myself to the trials Mary went through and the death of her son on the cross brought me peace little by little as the Lord entered into my wounds.
In praying the joyful mysteries, I connected with Mary in the Annunciation. I felt unworthy to be a mother as well as joyful for the gift. Even though I didn’t make it to the third joyful mystery with this child, I was able to recognize the joy amidst the painful situation. During the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Mary pondered in her heart the fact that her heart was going to be pierced with a sword. I pondered the opposing elements of joy and sorrow in motherhood. The glorious mysteries were a place for me to see the hope for the future no matter what it looked like. Even if I never had other children, I would meet my child in heaven one day. The Ascension reminded me that I had a friend in Heaven (Jesus) and that my child was there with Him. This offered hope to my sorrowful soul.
As I paired movement with praying the Rosary, I found myself able to enter more deeply into the mysteries than if I was just praying. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen says, “The rosary is the best therapy for distraught, unhappy, fearful and frustrated souls. Precisely because it involves simultaneous use of three powers… physical, vocal and spiritual.” I truly experienced the healing power of the Rosary as I practiced SoulCore in this difficult season.
Physical Healing from Infertility
Shortly after my miscarriage, I was diagnosed with an infertility condition called PCOS. Some of my hormone levels were dysregulated and this meant holding off on trying to have another child until they were more balanced. I was deeply longing to have a child in my arms which made this part of my journey so difficult. In the early days of this journey, I would gaze on the statue of the Pietá. Seeing Mary holding her lifeless son after He came off the cross encouraged me that while motherhood involved sorrow, it also involved hope for the future since Mary had hope for Jesus’ resurrection.
As I sought physical healing, the first things I was advised to try were lifestyle changes: relieving stress and finding an exercise routine that was good for my body. Practicing SoulCore was the perfect way to come to this place of balance that my body needed. Starting the day with a relaxing single decade or stretching class was a perfect way to start the day. I also found much needed peace in praying a class after a stressful day at work. Combining the relaxing breathing, silence, and movement elements with prayer allowed God to work through my physical efforts. Additionally, with the emphasis on listening to my body during a workout, I learned how to treat my body well. This made the strength classes exactly what I needed because I gave the effort I had and tried to avoid going beyond my limits. The treadmill classes reunited me with my love for running while also tending to my body well, unlike how I trained in the past. With this new emphasis on tending to my body through exercise rather than pushing or punishing it, I found a joy and an exhilaration that I hadn’t found in exercise in a long time.
Over time, experiencing the physical benefits of SoulCore brought me another heaping of the hope I had experienced while gazing on the Pietá. Because of this exercise practice and some diet changes (and I think some miraculous help from God), my hormones became normalized after a few months and I had a baby girl seven months ago (appropriately named Pieta Rose).
It is hard to deny that Mary interceded in my journey to mental, emotional, and physical healing in leading me to SoulCore. If you are reading this and searching for healing in any aspect of your life, know that you have been led to this apostolate. Our Lady will take you by the hand and lead you deeper in your relationship with Christ, the Great Physician. No matter where you are on your journey of faith or health or in your relationship with your body, I encourage you to join me and Mary on this journey to a healthy mind, body, and soul.