How far can you go without breathing?
In reality, you are breathing but sometimes it feels like you have stopped breathing or does it feel more like your living in the valley of dry bones where numbness has set in and you are clattering through the day just barely surviving?
If I pay attention in these moments I notice that my breathing is shallow and I wonder if at times I have actually been holding my breath. I suspect that is exactly what happens as I lose myself in the course of my day full of ‘to do lists.’
And, I am sure this happens to many of us.
There is a small group of women who meet regularly on my deck to do some gentle stretching. Each of us has tightness issues, and we have greatly benefited from this weekly routine. Sometimes between stretches we lay on our backs and notice our breathing and listen to the birds singing in the yard.
Often during these times a gentle breeze will blow over us like a breath of fresh air. It felt like the Holy Spirit was breathing life over us and into us.
Just before His ascension to heaven that is exactly what Jesus did, He breathed upon His disciples:
22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22 NASV)
And through the Lord’s breath came the Holy Spirit.
In the past I have felt that paying attention to my breath and doing ‘breath work’ was quite honestly weird stuff. Then I found myself in a depression and taking medication just to make it through the day. The medication, in turn, made me lethargic.
Out of desperation, I started ‘to do’ breath work and despite my questioning, it worked for me.
But after reading a recent blog post “Learning to Breathe at Higher Altitudes” by Dorina Gilmore from (in)courage ministries, she reaffirmed that I was on the right track to improving my emotional and physical well-being.
Dorina shared that there are physical and emotional benefits to breathing properly as we purposely breathe in deeply, letting the air and the presence of God gently fill our lungs, then releasing and exhaling the rush of responsibilities and the tension that rests on our shoulders.
This practice has a physical and spiritual dynamic that enables me to connect with the Holy Spirit. As I breathe in, I am filled with His presence and as I release I blow away fear, tension and unbelief.
The air can get awfully thin as we rush through our day and breathing in life and releasing my anxiety has created a healthy lifestyle for me. It has allowed me to regain my footing as I embrace this wonderful gift of God, our breath.
Ezekiel 37, talks about a valley of dry bones as a symbol of lifelessness and God spoke to those bones telling them He will once again put breath into them as He did for Adam at creation (Genesis 2:7):
“I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
Sometimes we need to take a moment in our hectic day to catch God’s breath.