breatheImage courtesy of tiverylucky /

Breathing is something we tend to take for granted until we have to fight to breathe, then it is alarmingly apparent that breathing is a gift from God that can be both given and taken away. Lately, I have been focusing on learning to periodically “take a deep breath” to relax myself and to lower my heart rate and blood pressure. It amazes me how well doing so along with decreasing my caffeine intake has lowered both.

The day before yesterday  my centering prayer group discussed the concept of breathing as a way of expressing the very essence of God; historically speaking the name for God was not meant to be spoken—it was communicated by breathing (Rohr, 2009, “The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See”). For most participants in the group, the concept of God “as breath” was perceived as comforting; however, two of the participants in the group had experienced severe asthma attacks as children and could remember the agony of having to fight for every breath. Thus, the two had a somewhat different perception of the concept of God “as breath.”

Rohr’s  (2009) book also points out that  the first thing we do when we enter this world is take a breath and the last thing we do when we leave this world is to exhale a breath.  I want to focus today’s blog comments on all those breaths that occur between our first and last breath.

As previously pointed out, breathing is often taken for granted. I myself, even though I had severe asthma as a child, did at one point smoke up to two packs of cigarettes per day. Fortunately, for me and my lungs, that lasted only a few years before my doctors told me I was getting emphysema and I was scared into stopping smoking “cold turkey.”  So, not only can breathing be taken for granted, it can be abused….much as one’s faith in God can be abused, lost, or forgotten.

Today,  I have periodically focused on my breathing not only relax but also to think about the essence of God manifested in my breathing.  I can choose to ignore my breathing and God, to put my breathing and my faith in God at risk, or to consciously experience God as reality in the very breaths I take. And about those breaths that one has to fight to take due to illness or injury—-they can be perceived as symbolic of how at times we have to fight to keep God and faith alive in our lives. What are the breaths in your life like? How do they relate, if at all, to your experience of God in your life?

Please share your comments about “God as breath.” I look forward to reading them. Thank you, and may God bless and keep you.