(Featured image courtesy of nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Many people live in a constant condition of stress or anxiety brought on by busy schedules. Subsequently, they regularly take in shallow breaths; having adopted it as normal and not even realizing they are doing it. The holiday season was meant to bring a breath of rest, perspective, and fresh air, but oftentimes it pushes these existing stress levels to a nearly suffocating intensity.
You were created to unconsciously breathe deeply from your abdomen (diaphragm). Straying from this limits oxygen intake, is physically taxing, and causes a chain of negative effects to the body including, ironically, stress and anxiety.
Thankfully, this can be reversed as you retrain yourself to breathe deeply from the belly by actively becoming aware of and engaging your diaphragm and the other muscles that are involved with full deep breaths. This is one of the many perks of Keola® workouts. The yoga community calls it muscle “awakening” and different forms of breath work are gaining popularity throughout fitness circles due to the immediate physical and psychological benefits realized from it*.
Ultimately, what these techniques do is consciously reacquaint you with the muscles God gave you and help train you to use them as He intended again; breaking the “new norm” created from a lifestyle of stress and lack of activity/misuse. It can be viewed as choosing to train your muscles to return to the original plan…resetting/restoring.
As I teach this in Keola® classes, I am keenly aware of how important prayer and fellowship with God is in this process and interestingly they are both similar. Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This can seem ridiculous to most people, as these busy schedules I’ve been discussing make that seem impossible. It can also be an area of condemnation through critical thoughts like, “I’m not praying enough!”. I read a great Joyce Meyer’s take on this verse that resonated with my spirit. She writes, “Prayer should be like breathing, something we do continually but often unconsciously, without even being totally aware of it.”
Just like breathing, God intends for your prayer life to be deep although so natural that it is sometimes even unconscious. Sadly, like full breathing, many people have also strayed from this continual connection with the Father (or perhaps have never even found it) and are seeing the same spiritual effects of shallow breathing.
The key to returning to that state of deep, natural, continual prayer is similar to breath work. It’s choosing to take the time to consciously fellowship with God. It is stopping throughout the day to acknowledge His presence, goodness, and power, especially when things are going crazy and stressful. What better time to bring this practice into your daily schedule than now, while you celebrate why you are able to have this gift of fellowship and union with God?
THE PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL BENEFIT
Scripture tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), so the answer to anxiety and shallow breathing is also active, conscious time with God who is love (1 John 4:8).
There is only One that can truly heal and deliver you. Jesus paid for your healing offering access to God, the Father, who heals all your diseases by His grace (Psalm 103:3, 1Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5). Christ’s death wasn’t just payment of sins so you can go to heaven, it was restoration of life so you can be united once again (even now) with God, the Healer, who gives you the Breath of Life.
This doesn’t mean that all your problems will magically disappear, but it is possible to find joy, peace and even supernatural rest in the midst of them. His grace also gives freedom to do things that benefit others, as well as your own body and soul, out of gratitude to the Giver, Creator, and Healer, without feeling bound to having to do them and guilty if you don’t. That is the freedom of seeing His love more as you spend time focusing on Jesus.
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:4 ESV )
*Special Note: Breath in Keola® is important, but how it is emphasized differs from most mind-body classes. The Spirit gives and is the breath of life. The only skeletal muscle essential for life that we can willfully choose to work with for our benefit is the muscle that controls our intake of breath (the diaphragm). This demonstrates God’s design of our free will. I hope you understand this metaphor: Our goal is not to control breath (God’s Spirit), but to reacquaint ourselves with it (Him) and move naturally in conjunction with it (Him) as the Lord designed and wills. This results in the physical reset/restoration discussed above. Wow! What an amazing God, who writes Himself and His plan into our bodies in so many subtle, magnificent ways. That same Almighty God desires to spend time with you today. As you work on your breath, I encourage you to bring Jesus into focus.
Try It Out:
Begin by sitting up tall creating length through the spine, dropping your shoulders away from your ears. As you breathe in deeply, consider God’s magnificence in this breathing design and the great love He has for you. As you breathe out, send away any thoughts of what you should be doing, fear, or hatred toward yourself. Place your hand on your belly button and breathe in, remembering Jesus chose to go to great lengths to bring you to Himself. Feel your hand move out as you breathe in and then into the body as you exhale. Continue breathing, picturing Him on that cross for you… taking each nail into His body for your benefit. He still wears those scars today. You are forever written on Father God’s heart and mind because of them. Allow your heart to reach out to Him to receive His complete forgiveness, perfect love, and embrace. He doesn’t see your imperfections today. He sees His Beloved Child. Rest in His arms.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:16 ESV)
Keola® “Release Stress” Workout (YouTube) – 3 minutes, all levels
Shed Guilt and Weight Blogpost
Joseph Prince: “Condemnation Kills” – Stress relationship with condemnation