Oxygen

“The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job 33:4

Breathing is something we do without much thought, yet it is a gift that connects us to life itself and provides profound benefits for our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Below are just a few ways breathing and breathing practices help.

Physical Health

  1. Improved Oxygenation: In order to have good blood and circulation, we must breathe well. When we breathe deeply, we flood our cells with oxygen, enhancing their efficiency. This boost in oxygen levels provides us with increased energy, mental clarity, and improved physical performance.
  2. Stress Reduction: It lowers the production of stress hormones, like cortisol, leading to a calmer mind and reduced tension in your muscles. Lower stress levels is also linked to better cardiovascular health, supports the appetite, and promotes digestion.
  3. Enhanced Lung Capacity: Practicing deep breathing exercises regularly can expand lung capacity, improving respiratory efficiency and increasing endurance for physical activities.
  4. Enhanced Sleep: Deep, rhythmic breathing can improve the quality of our sleep. It soothes the nervous system, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try a few minutes of deep breathing before bedtime for a more restful night.
  5. Better Immune Function: A well-oxygenated body is better equipped to fight off illnesses. Deep breathing supports a strong immune system by ensuring our cells receive the nutrients they need.

Mental Health:

  1. Stress and Anxiety Management: Deep, rhythmic breathing calms the mind and reduces feelings of anxiety and muscle tension in the body. It also promotes mental clarity, focus, and increases distress tolerance.
  2. Emotional Balance: Breathing is intimately connected to our emotions. Deep breathing or taking an intentional breath can help us navigate and process difficult emotions. It also creates a space between stimulus and reaction, allowing us to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.
  3. Mood Enhancement: Fresh air contains mood-elevating negative ions, which can help combat depression and improve overall mental well-being. Scripture reminds us that it’s through the breath of God we were made (Genesis 2:7; Job 27:3; Psalm 33:6), our life is upheld (Job 12:10; Job 33:4); we are  protected (Job 41:21; Psalm 18:15) and cared for (Job 32:8; Psalm 146:2), which can bring renewal and joy.

Spiritual Health:

  1. Nature as a Reminder of our Maker: Spending time in the fresh air of the great outdoors fosters a profound connection with the natural world and lifts our minds to God as our Creator and Maker of all things. This connection can lead to a deeper sense of awe and appreciation of God’s workings for and through us.
  2. Creates a Moment of Stillness: In the quiet rhythm of our breath, we promote a sense of peace by tranquilizing the mind and refreshing the body. It is within this a sense of peace that we are better able to reflect on God’s wisdom, surrender ourselves to His Spirit, and cultivate gratitude and acceptance for His presence and Kingship in our lives.
  3. Awareness of the Present Moment: Spiritual growth often hinges on our ability to be fully present in the here and now. Deep breathing grounds us in the present moment, making it easier to let go of the past and future. Deep breathing increases our awareness so that we become more attuned to the beauty and miracle of each present moment.
  4. Spiritual Cleansing: Prayer is as the breath of the soul, and deep breathing can help slow our spirits and remind us to wait and surrender before the Lord. It is through a close relationship with God that we can, through the prayer of faith, live in the very atmosphere of heaven. And just as our breath nourishes our bodies, we are reminded that God can nourish our souls. With each exhale, we can surrender our tension, stress, and emotional heaviness to God; so that inhaling fresh, pure air can feel like a cleansing, renewal of our spirits.

Incorporating deep breathing into your daily routine doesn’t require much effort, but its benefits can be profound. Whether it’s a moment of stillness in the morning, a few breaths during the day, or deep breathing exercises before bed, your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

1 Inhale. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 4 seconds.
2 Pause. Hold the air in your lungs for 4 seconds.
3 Exhale. Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 6 seconds. (Tip: Pucker your lips, as if you are blowing through a straw, to slow your exhalation.)
4 Repeat. Practice for at least 2-3 minutes, but preferably 5 to 10 minutes.