I have an interesting feature on my Apple Watch. From time to time, the factory setting on the watch causes me to feel a vibration on my arm. This vibration is a notification from my phone. When I look to see if it is a call, email, text or Twitter alert, I find the simple word “BREATHE.” That bold word is followed by a short sentence, “Take time to breathe.”
My first response to the alert is to have a sarcastic thought, “Duh, if I don’t breathe, I won’t be around for the next alert!” Obviously, this word has little to do with sucking in air and then exhaling; it is a statement. Stop! Take a minute of relaxation before moving forward. Let your mind and body have a one-minute timeout from the press and stress of the things around you.
Actually, taking a timeout would be a good practice in this world of rush hours, meetings, tech connect and the blur of events that crowd every waking moment. Simple observation educates us to the benefit of deep breathing. New oxygen floods the body and brain, and a few deep, slow breaths have a way of cleansing stress and rejuvenating mind and body.
While mind and body health are important, nothing is more significant for the Christian than spiritual renewal. Frankly, we, as Christians, need time and a place for spiritual deep breathing, especially when we turn the world and its gadgets off and allow ourselves to have sweet, cleansing and refreshing times with our God.
One of the ways I have learned to engage in deep spiritual breathing is related to my quiet time. I leave from my quiet time with wonderful truths about God, His character, His attributes and His ways. Throughout the day, I seek to take minute breaks when I think upon—meditate upon— these wonderful truths. At times, I am refreshed by deep breaths of His love for me, born from the Word and communion in my quiet time. On other occasions, I take spiritual breaks to think of the expression or example of God’s amazing grace I read about that morning. Many times when slammed by a stressful day, I take a deep spiritual breath of His peace in my heart revealed in a Psalm or biblical story.
Another important way to empower deep spiritual breathing comes from Scripture memory. When you hide the Word of God in your heart, there is no limit to the time or place for you to breathe in the truth of God’s Word. Scripture memory allows for minute meditation breaks that are deeply rooted in the truth of God. The imagery used in Scripture to define and describe mediation on God’s Word is that of a cow chewing its cud. So spiritual breathing provides times when you recall a favorite verse of Scripture and allow it to flow over and through your life.
We live in a noisy, breathless world where people scurry about in constant motion. Screens flash before our eyes night and day. Mind, body and spiritual breathing are hard to come by, but the value of practicing them provides peace in the storm, calmness in the face of turmoil, and joy in the midst of sadness. This is a discipline few people cultivate, but all of us would be enriched by this practice.
Why don’t you just stop for a moment—go ahead and lay down the Messenger or put down your electronic device—and breathe deeply. Let the stress drain from your body. Now, think about the wonderful truths that flowed from your quiet time, exposing the love, grace, mercy, peace or faithfulness of your God. Focus on His presence and the joy of the moment with Him. Recall a favorite verse of Scripture that fills your mind and heart with joy or peace. Take a break! Breathe!
Let the deep breathing of the Spirit flood your soul with peace, love, and joy. You will be better because of it. You will live to fight another day!