Focusing on our breath is common as part of meditation. Handy really because as long as we are alive we have our breath with us wherever we are! And it costs us nothing financially.
We can breathe in, giving the breath our full attention. Then breathe out, as we do so consciously letting go of the tensions in our minds and bodies. This is sometimes called centering.
We can breathe in, choosing to focus on breathing into a specific part of our body. As we do this we will become aware of any sensations in that area or indeed observe a lack of sensation. Here we are connecting with our physicality.
As we focus on our breath – how we breathe in and breathe out quite naturally – we can sometimes come to a point of quietness of heart and peace of mind. Yes, of course, the ‘chatter’ of our thoughts is there but we can choose to (gently and with kindness) focus back on our breath. As we do this we can connect with something deep within us, our spirit.
Often breathing mediations are associated with a Buddhist or Eastern tradition. They are however also an intrinsic part of the Christian faith. The breath is an important image in the Bible, going back to the creation story itself of God breathing his Spirit into man. As I meditate focusing on my breath I often use the image of the inbreath as my openness to God’s presence or the very breath of God. And what do I use as an image of the outbreath? I breathe out all that is not of God that is within me.
There’s an ancient prayer Christians have used through the ages. It’s called the Jesus prayer. ‘Lord Jesus’ (on the inbreath) ‘have mercy on me’ (on the outbreath).
Regardless of our tradition and faith – or lack of tradition and faith – focusing on our breath is an experience of mind, body and spirit. And at times, for me, it helps me to be still and catch a glimpse of the divine.
Keep breathing! Keep noticing!
This is Mindful Monday on 8 March 2020. If you live in or near Cheltenham, join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on Monday 16 March, 7.30-9 pm at the Oasis. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and to book your place. There is no charge. You are welcome to make a donation towards room hire if and as you are able.