What a fantastic strip featured on Elephant Journal this week:
After last week's meditation sit, a couple of the members said they would like to hear some techniques for quieting the mind. So I've decided to do breath focus this week.
My first scripture passage will be from Genesis 2:7"The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
I heard (or read) this comment somewhere: "He is the very breath of our breaths." I wish I knew what wise person said that. It might have been Job! Job 33: 4 says “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”
Henri Nouwen wrote about the Holy Spirit and our relationship to Him. He said:
"When we speak about the Holy Spirit, we speak about the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for 'spirit' is pneuma, which means 'breath.' We are seldom aware of our breathing. It is so essential for life that we only think about it when something is wrong with it.
The Spirit of God is like our breath. God's spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a 'spiritual life.' It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. It is the Holy Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy. Let us pray: 'Come, Holy Spirit, come.'"
And so tonight we will focus on our breath. We will use our awareness of our breath, or PRANA (a Sanskrit word meaning “vital force”), to help focus our mind and kick the hamster off the wheel.
In the silence tonight I want you to notice your inhales and exhales. Don’t try to control it. Just let it be. Notice how the air passes through your nostrils. Notice the rise and fall of our chest and abdomen. Notice how each exhale brings a measure of relaxation to your body. You can imagine each inhale as a divinely-driven resuscitation. The dictionary defines resuscitation as “to revive.” Think of each breath, each intake of fresh oxygen, as a revival of your body, mind and spirit.
If your mind has a hard time focusing on just that, here is a visualization I’ve used periodically. I think of God as a divine conductor of the orchestra that is my life. I imagine his hand rising as I inhale, and falling gracefully as I exhale. He conducts each in-flow and out-flow of my breath.