If you’ve attended church at The Hearth or read our newsletters recently, you may have noticed a theme of breath. We start worship with a collective, community breath. We speak about stewardship as exhaling our time, talents, and treasures as a means of creating space for receiving and inhaling. Breath is a spiritual practice. God breathed into humanity to create life (Genesis 2:7), Jesus breathed into the Apostles to commission them into Holy work upon His resurrection (John 20:22), and the breath of God is mentioned at least eight times just in the book of Job. Breath is important to God, and it is deeply important to me.
I use breathwork in my mental health practice because deep breathing is one of the most effective mood regulators, tapping into our Vagus nerve system, which makes up our parasympathetic nervous system. When we breathe, we can literally change the chemistry of our bodies to calm down when we are in a heightened state of arousal (anxious, stressed, fearful, angry, etc.). I use breathwork in my yoga practice because that’s what you do in yoga. You breathe through the movements. You keep time with breath, you use breath to regulate your exertion and body temperature, and you even use breath to flow through physical and emotional pain. Finally, I use breathwork in my Spiritual practice because God is in the breathwork and the breathwork is in God.
In his article in Jewish Lights Publishing, Rabbi Arthur Waskow describes how the original Hebrew name for God, Yhwh, is often spelled Yahweh because it is easier to pronounce. However, the Rabbi asserts, the name for God takes on new meaning when you attempt to pronounce it in its original vowelless form - Yh-wh. Many people, when presented with this challenge, will pronounce the name with an inhale of breath on the Yh and an exhale of breath on the wh. How fitting that the God who brings inanimate beings into existence through breath would have a name that sounds like breathing and which means “He brings into existence whatever exists”.
Breathe in the Divine life God blesses you with every day. Breathe out the love you are filled with onto others.