In the midst of the hustle and bustle and stress and uncertainty of this holiday season, never, ever, ever, ever underestimate the power of stopping to breathe. It’s powerful…and it’s easy.
Throughout the Old Testament the spirit of God is is described by the word ruah, which means breath. God is the breath of life. We cannot live without breathing, and we cannot live without God. So it is not surprising that pausing to pay attention to our breath helps to connect us with God…and also helps to combat anxiety and calm our fears.
It’s amazing what breath can do. Just pausing to breathe in and out for one minute can do wonders to lower blood pressure and reset our brains. But if you want to go a bit beyond that, here are a few more exercises you can use to harness the power of breath.
Try each one at least once. Chances are one will work better for you than others…or you may decide to use them all.
Jesus In. Junk Out.
Breathe in and breathe out slowly. When you breathe in, breathe in Jesus.
Breathe in whatever it is Jesus invokes in you–love, light, compassion, peace. Just breathe it in.
When you breathe out, expel the thing(s) that are causing you stress and anxiety.
Blow them right out of your body.
Repeat until you feel full of Jesus and empty of the junk that was weighing you down…or at least until you are more Jesus than junk.
For the Counters
Breathe in for four seconds.
Hold the breath for four seconds.
Breathe out for four seconds.
Four seconds is a bit of an arbitrary number, but if you’re not used to deep breathing exercises, it’s a good place to start.
As you continue, increase the number of seconds that you breathe in, hold and breathe out. Just keep them all at the same count.
Clench and Release
Take a deep breath in
As you breathe in, clench your fists, and then tighten your arms and scrunch up your shoulders really tight against your neck.
Hold the breath and all the clenching
And then exhale and let go of all the tightness all at once.
This is not one that needs to be repeated a lot. In fact, it’s a good one to start with to get you ready for a longer exercise…or just to ease some tension.
Breath is a powerful thing, but it doesn’t take much effort to harness that power. As we move through this season, take a break and take a breath. It can make all the difference.
Hey! Did you know that the Bible has a lot to say about how we can stay healthy?
Check out my Health Hacks from the Bible study.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.