How to breathe

“You’re breathing wrong.”

Ever been told that? I have. Not that I was looking for advice on how to breathe. I had, actually, been breathing successfully for several decades. Still am. I’m currently in the midst of an impressive streak: I’ve been breathing non-stop since 1975.

But one guy thought I could use some advice on breathing…

“Pull the breath into your stomach and enjoy the air.”

It took a while for me to consider the unsolicited advice I got on breathing. But when I did consider it, I was struck by the very fact that I was actually thinking about how to breathe!

Thank God we don’t have to think about how to breathe. That would be annoying, right? BUT should we take time to consider how to breathe? Is it useful? Is it useful to consider how we attend to the necessities of life?

I think so. Give it a shot. Take a few deep breaths. Pull the air into your stomach. Taste it and enjoy it.

Our souls–the essence of our being–are as integral to our living systems are as our breath. I can’t scientifically back that up… but it sure feels suffocating to starve the soul. Life becomes a stifling blanket when we don’t have opportunity to breathe life into the soul. We benefit from good breathing into our souls.

The problem with my breathing, apparently, was that I consistently take shallow breaths and don’t fully inflate the lungs. Breathing is much more enriching when I breathe deep into the bottom of my lungs.

Soul care works the same way. We often engage in whatever soul-nurturing activity we choose in shallow gasps–like we’re gulping down some oxygen in between swimstrokes. There’s a case for breathing a bit more deeply–for taking some good, long breathes that reach way down into the depths of our being.

So the next time I do something to nurture the spirit–the next time I read into scripture, or listen to music, or close my eyes in meditation–the goal is not just to catch a little spiritual buzz, but instead to wear myself out. Like taking a full breath, I want to draw in so much spiritual nourishment that I feel exhausted and full.

It takes some work and concentration to breathe right. It takes work, concentration, and effort to nourish the soul.


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