The spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me life. —Job 33:4
What do you do 19,000 times a day without thinking? I hope you said breathing because I can’t think of anything else that comes close to that—except, maybe, the number of times I think about eating ginger snaps! (I am trying to stop eating them, so I just think about eating them.) We are alive because we are breathing, and we are breathing because we are alive. It is automatic. We don’t think about it.
However, I am asking you to take time to think about your breathing—not for every moment, not even for 8,000 of the 19,000 breaths you take every day. I invite you to stop and pay attention to your breathing for just 5 to 10 minutes each day. When we stop to notice the pattern of our breath (inhale/exhale), we calm the body and slow the mind. We honor the ways they serve us. We also show gratitude to our Creator God, which honors our spirit.
Have you ever experienced the fear of not being able to catch your breath or the panic that comes when each breath causes pain? I am hit occasionally by a coughing spasm and can’t catch my breath. It scares me and everyone around me. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does I find myself gasping for air until I can remain calm enough to relax my constricted throat and allow air to flow more freely. I can’t stop this from happening. I am usually drinking and talking when the coughing starts. My fear escalates and my breathing becomes shallow. I move immediately to a place where I can be alone to focus on the only thing I know that works—relaxing. As I relax, the tightness in my throat softens and I begin to breathe normally.
I encourage you to develop a regular practice of bringing your awareness to your breath. When we are tense or anxious, we have a greater need to slow our breath and breathe deeply. During deep breathing, the belly looks like that of a sleeping baby; the abdomen goes out on the inhale and goes back down on the exhale. Inhale—out; exhale—in. Allow your shoulders to relax. Feel yourself breathing more deeply, relaxing, and releasing stress.
Here are 5 more reasons to practice mindful breathing—and an article on Mindful Breathing to guide you:
- Breathing is a gift from God. Breathe your gratitude through this breath prayer. Practice it twice a day for more joy and calm. Breathing in, say: God is good. Breathing out, say: Thank you, God.
- The deeper you breathe, the more oxygen you send to your brain, resulting in increased energy and greater alertness.
- Exercising your lungs with deep breathing (be sure to inhale and exhale deeply) releases toxins and massages your lungs and diaphragm.
- Focusing on your breath will help you be aware of your feelings. When you stop, breathe, and relax you are better able to ask yourself, “What is really going on? What is the tightness in my stomach about?” Stopping to breathe gives you time to listen to your body and respond with insight rather than impulsivity.
- Stop now. Breathe slowly. Inhale—stomach rises. Exhale—stomach falls. Now set the alarm on your phone to alert you twice a day to stop/breathe/relax. Enjoy the improved calmness, energy, and well-being.
- Met a new neighbor and her daughter who have become our walking buddies.
- Granddaughter waved bye-bye for the first time.
- Gave money to a person asking for food.
- Walked to support Alzheimer’s research.
- Celebrated a client’s 5-year sobriety.
- Was referred to a new client in her 20s—an honor to connect with her.
- Grateful to watch my daughter make a career change that suits her.