by Ellen LaCroix
Do you ever have a moment in your day when you have to stop what you’re doing and just take a deep breath? Maybe you realize that you are running frantically and you need a moment to stop and regroup. Or maybe you find yourself frustrated and you need a way to calm down. Breathing is something that we do unconsciously. Without reminding yourself, you will always take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. But sometimes consciously telling yourself to take a long slow breath can help in stressful situations.
John Wesley developed an idea he called spiritual respiration. Just as we breathe in and out constantly each day, we should also constantly breathe in the gifts and blessings of God all around us. As we exhale we give thanks and share those blessings with others. Just as unconscious breath sustains the body, so does spiritual respiration sustain the soul.
Next time you find yourself needing to take a deep breath try adding an element of spiritual respiration. One way to do that is through the ‘breath prayer’. Pick a simple sentence or phrase that can be said in one breath such as “LORD lead me in your will today” or “God stand by my side.” Take a slow breath in and repeat this prayer as you exhale. Allow your breath to be more than just an involuntary biological action. Allow it to also be a centering moment of praise. Breathe in the God around you, breathe out a prayer of praise.