Every Breath a Prayer
I have been exploring meditation. Trying to learn to slow myself down and do little more than just breathe a few minutes each morning. Most days, of the days that I do it, I can do about five to ten minutes before it becomes a struggle.. Occasionally I can last a little longer. And some days, I just can’t/won’t even start.
Sometimes this feels like when I was a kid trying to learn to hold my breath longer and longer so I could swim farther underwater.
The days that I meditate tend to go better than the days I don’t. The obvious value is physiological. I slow down my life a little. I slow down my breathing, which slows down my heart. It helps relieve my stress. Less stress, even if for only part of my day is a good thing. Doing this in the morning helps me prevent my stress levels from getting a good running start before my day really gets going. If I start worrying about work problems, or a crowded schedule or something I forgot to get done yesterday right as I get out of bed, then I will feel overwhelmed before I can do anything about resolving any of those problems.
And physiologically I don’t need that. I have enough health issues without compounding them with stress. Without creating new health issues born of stress.
But is it something miraculous about meditation? Perhaps. I do believe in the spiritual realm and the power of spiritual disciplines to make our lives better. I think that part of the value derives from the spiritual act in itself.
Richard Rohr talks about the importance of breathing in the spiritual realm. He explains that the unpronounceable name of God (YHWH) is traditionally expressed as the sounds we make as we breathe. The first syllable equates to an inhale and the second to exhaling. Thus every breath we take is calling upon the name of God. Literally, every breath is a prayer. Our lives depend on God so much that we are repeating his name over and over and over each day.
That means every breath is a cry for God’s mercy and compassion to keep me alive. It is then very much a quiet thanks for that incredible gift.
Scripture gives stories of God breathing into Adam, or the reconstructed bodies in the valley of dry bones. His breathe brings life. The Holy Spirit is referred to in terms of breath, of God or Jesus breathing on people and they receive the inflow of his presence.
The very word inspiration, to breathe in, also means to take in spirit.
For a few minutes everyday, I try to be aware that this is happening, to slow down, calm down and just breathe. In those brief moments I do find peace. I do feel closer to a God that I am calling to every few seconds and who responds to me each time. A conversation that continues when I am not aware of it, even continues as I sleep.
Take a deep breath now and enjoy knowing that you and God are connected.