At the moment of your birth, the first wisp of air that entered your nostrils was the breath of God bringing you to life. As the Creator breathed into you, you became a living soul. Every breath you’ve taken since, and every breath you take until that moment you pass to the other side is God breathing his life in and through you.
The belief that every breath we take is the Creator breathing his life, his Spirit into us is a common belief within many religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. It’s the Spirit of God, the pneuma, the breath of God that brings us to life and sustains us until we die. In fact, without that breath, we could not exist.
It reminds me in many ways of Frosty the Snowman. When Frosty was created, he was a clump of snow. He was inanimate, lifeless, spiritless. But, when the magic hat was placed upon his head, he came alive. He was filled with the Spirit of life and love. He became real, whole, complete.
Similar to Frosty, our body was a clump of flesh and bones. But, when the Source of our Being breathed his Spirit into us, we became alive, filled with love and life. We became a living soul. Whole and complete. Fully connected with the Creator and his Wisdom.
The Breath Prayer brings us back to an awareness that our breath connects us intractably to God. It reminds us that God is breathing his life into us with each breath we take.
The purpose of the Breath Prayer is two-fold. First, it allows us to become more fully aware of our true nature, that we are spiritual beings intimately connected to God through our breath. Just as an astronaut floating in outer space is connected to the oxygen hose that sustains him, our breath is our umbilical cord to God. We are directly connected to and can experience that interdependent relationship with the Source through the breath he gives us.
Second, the Breath Prayer allows us to empty our minds and open our hearts to create a quiet inner space where God can breathe his wisdom, guidance, and direction into us. By focusing on our breath for 10-20 minutes in meditation, we still our mind chatter so we can hear the insight and love our Creator wishes to speak to us as he whispers silently to our hearts.
As a practical matter, the Breath Prayer has been proven to reduce stress. Its regular practice allows us to handle our emotions more objectively. It can even increase our life-span since it lowers blood pressure and heart rate, thereby allowing our body to operate more efficiently.
The beauty of the Breath Prayer is its simplicity. It’s merely an intentional awareness of the breath that’s always with us.
Here’s some pointers to jumpstart and guide your practice:
1) Sit Comfortably. Sit upright, comfortable and relaxed, with your hands on your knees or thighs, palms up or down, resting—one on the other—in your lap.
2) Close your Eyes. Turn your eyes slightly downward and close them gently. This removes visual distractions and reduces your brainwave activity, thus helping to calm the mind. It also points your mind toward your heart, allowing the mind and the heart to connect.
3) Relax your Body. Relax your jaw muscles so the upper and lower teeth are not clenched or touching one another, but parted. Relax your forehead, shoulders, hands, and feet.
4) Breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply three or four times. Feel the inhaling and exhaling air moving in and out through your nostrils. Continue to breathe naturally and easily for the next ten minutes or so as you focus on your breath moving in and through you.
5) Become Aware of the Unified Breath. Observe the sensation of the breath moving throughout your inhalations and exhalations. Become aware of your “Unified Breath” — you and God breathing together.
6) Gently Return to your Breath. If you become restless, distracted, aware of thoughts or images or specific parts of your body, be calmly aware of these things in a detached and objective manner. Let them come and go as they will. If they become a distraction, gently return to an awareness of the air moving in and out of your nose.
Keep in mind that the Breath Meditation simply consists of being aware of your breath as it moves in and out of your nostrils. There’s no right or wrong way to practice it. Simply feel your breath. Go with the flow. Be.
During the active part of your day, you might notice that you literally lose or forget about your breath in those moments when you become overwhelmed, confused, stressed, or agitated.
At those times, simply return to an awareness of your breath for a few minutes. Relax your body. Take a few breaths and feel the air move in and out of your nostrils. Remember you are always connected to God. Be still, and create an inner openness and seek guidance from the Creator.
Remember the One Who Created You is always breathing his Life and Wisdom into your Spirit. And no one can take your Frosty the Snowman hat away from you.
—brian j plachta
Click on this link to pull up the you tube podcast and experience the Breath Prayer Meditation: