Breathe in breathe out

 

“I am present within myself. I can center myself with the ease of my breath. I feel grounded, confident, worthy and whole.” – Mala Collective

“Breathe. To pause. To make space. To collect your thoughts. To remember. To face the next moment. To choose.” – Unknown

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:4

Watching the world series last night, I noticed several deep breaths. The pitcher is about to throw a pitch that could make or break the game, changing the Cubs record for history. He takes his moment to close his eyes, and take a deep breath.

Observing this brought me back to many anxiety-ridden moments through my life – dance and piano recitals, test scores, job interview responses. The feeling I’m sure you’ve had yourself is quite unsettling: a hammering heartbeat and stomach doing somersaults. My mom has always been good at reminding me it can all come back to the breath. “Remember, take a deep breath honey,” as if it will all be okay as long as I remember to breathe.

But in the end, it’s true. It will all be okay. Those nerve-wracking moments tend to resolve eventually even when they feel all-encompassing in the moment. The major factor that makes it not okay is when we fail to be present because the nerves get the best of us.

It’s a real physical response. Deep-breathing changes our body’s physical response to our situation. Those nervous feelings are being caused by our body’s protective fight-or-flight response. When we breathe deeply, we trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, telling our body that everything is okay. Moreover, mentally those slow, deep breaths release endorphins, telling our mind to stay calm (mindbodygreen). 

We sometimes forget how connected we are to our bodies. In our fast-paced world, we’re told if we fight through our physical pain or feelings, we’re strong. In contrast, our God points to the breath as a source of power. He points to the breath as the Almighty, as the source of life.

Ignoring your fight or flight response and your body is not the answer. Connecting to it, centering it, and taking a moment to register where you are at is what keeps us in the moment, fighting at our best.

Breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.

 

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