Breathing is the most natural thing we do... all of us, or we are in trouble!
But I've been more mindful of my breathing lately...paying attention, slowing it down, taking deep breaths.
Life can come at you, full and fast, like the rain today, and the floods so many are facing. Sometimes the adrenaline kicks in, sometimes we live lives full of adrenaline, till our bodies are tense with the next thing, the to-do list, with the pressures of life, or the heartaches we face.
Last week as we were studying our Bible lesson from Ephesians three, I was struck by these words from the Apostle Paul, which is really part of a prayer: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." (3:20). I pondered that prayer for a while, but more than thinking about it, God wanted me to put it into practice.
And the lesson I've been learning is... do I live life with dread or expectation? Do I react to what is in front of me, or take time to slow down, to ponder, to ask my Creator (who is able to do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine) for divine assistance?
Sometimes we have to ask for help in this! The very next morning with those words in mind, I woke up with my back in spasms... and I had a full day ahead. Panic seized me, and I wondered how I would get through. I phoned someone I trusted and asked her to pray for me... and the miracle happened. My body relaxed, and my day went well.
I say this carefully, because I am not one to demand things from God, and I see people... often... who are racked with pain. But as I listen, or pray with them, or just hold their hand, there can be a relaxing, and an easing of the tension. And God can help us to do that, I believe! The prayer states, to the One who is able to do immeasurably more that we ask or imagine! These are heavenly resources that help me to face life with expectation rather than dread.
And breathing IS important... I don't believe we were created to be tense. And when I am, I find that breathing exercises can help me immensely. One exercise is to take a deep breath, counting to four as I take it in... hold it for the count of one, and release it in another count of four. It slows you down, and this has even helped me to go to sleep.
Breath prayers are also a wonderful way to practice calming the mind. Simple prayers like "Help, Lord!", or "Have Mercy on Me", or "Thank you that you are with me", help us to focus on our source of help and strength. I heard another prayer recently where I can breathe in a prayer, focusing on God's love filling me as I breathe, and with my exhale, I pray a prayer of thanks or love back to God.
Breathing in love, peace, calm, is another way to refocus the mind. Breathe it in, and breathe out the fear, the anxiety.
Take time to breathe. Today I am grateful for the gift of life, I am thankful for the air I breathe, for the beauty all around me. There, that feels better already!