learning to breathe

Check your ABCs – they are the most important functions of life. That’s what we are taught in first aid anyway. Check the airway and open it up. Check for breathing. Then check for circulation. Everything else comes under these things. Breathing is the first sign of life.

Several years ago my cousin and I went to Egypt to visit her brother (also my cousin). He was working on a live aboard dive boat in the Red Sea. The only way that we could see him was to also go on the boat for a week. I am not a scuba diver. I have to get my head in gear before jumping in a lake because of all that lives down there! For the sake of family I agreed to get PADI certified and for the sake of family pride I decided I’d have to get over my fears fast and learn in record speed. What I wasn’t expecting was to walk away from the boat after 7 days and feel the most relaxed I have ever felt in my life. We dove 3-4 times a day. Most of the time I felt like a little toy scuba diver that had been dropped into the most stunning of fish tanks. What had really changed things for me though was learning to breathe. My cousin was an amazing instructor (certified)! When I was learning he watched my breathing and would use his own breathing regulation and hand gestures to help me get mine under control. His calm was incredible. By the third day I found that my air tank lasted far longer than the first day. By the final day it had just become a paced, natural rhythm. I began to breathe like that when I wasn’t underwater too. It felt like I was full of life.

There is a song that we used to sing, written by Michael W. Smith:

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me

I hear of how people in different countries where face masks in public every day because the air quality is so poor. I think of anxious times when breathing becomes short and shallow. Our bodies weren’t made for that. They were made to breathe deeply of life-giving air.

Stop. Pay attention. Breathe in slowly – chest expanding, shoulder raising. And let it out just as slowly – shoulders lowering, lungs emptying. Repeat.

Stop. Pay attention. Breathe in slowly – invite in the truths of God (peace, love, joy, order, wisdom). And let it out just as slowly – release the blockages (hurt, anger, frustration, inadequacy). Repeat.

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