Conscious or mindful breathing fills us with the breath of God and the reverse is true. Sandra Sabatini writes that during the day we shrink from the lack of awareness of our breath – because of a lack of time and attention which she thinks is ultimately a lack of love:
‘as you get into contact with the breath
You are able to reverse this process
And obtain more space, more roots into the ground’
Inevitably as we breathe in a more natural way – no holding or cutting off our breath here – then the body becomes more open and lengthens – so that even psychologically we are able to be more flexible and open to new thoughts.
Eastern spiritual practices such as Zen and Taoism offer breathing techniques as an essential grounding and often as a way into meditation, why doesn’t Christianity? Ten minutes of conscious breathing as part of liturgy with emphasis on the breath body would surely ensure that we are grounded in our experience of the lived body and world, yet also tuned to our spirituality. An essence of this body awareness is the comforting presence of our breathing, which is seen as a precondition for transcendence in terms of liberating spirituality. There can be a rhythmic regularity in our breathing that is in harmony with the bodily phenomena that appear to our consciousness.
‘following the rhythm of the breath
the body is put in a situation
where is only healing
opening and space.’
Breathing techniques allow for the experience of emptiness as the exhalation leaves the body ‘a clean inside’: ‘you can create a space and then what comes in is a gift’. The emptiness is here the ground for resurrection and all new possibilities which with the new breath comes in completely naturally:
‘when the old breath has left you forever
To enjoy this emptiness
When the new breath has filled you up
to enjoy this fullness’
The breath of God gives us the experience of God – emptiness and fullness and in the space in between there is silence – silence and space.
Thomas Merton writes:
‘The reality that is present to us and in us: call it Being, call it Atman, call it Pneuma … or Silence. And the simple fact by being attentive, by learning to listen … we can find ourself engulfed in such happiness that it cannot be explained: the happiness of being at one with everything in that hidden ground of Love for which there can be no explanation.’