by Christine Sine,
I love breath prayers and the exercises they encourage me to create. I have several that I use on a regular basis especially, at the moment, when such exercises are one of the top recommendations for coping with the stress and anxiety of this season.
I often adapt the breath prayers and the exercises I create in conjunction with them, to the liturgical season in which I find myself or might use invitational prayers to welcome the presence of God in the rhythm of my life. I have prayers for welcoming the new year, for spring, summer, autumn and winter. I have others for seasons of grief and pain or anxiety. All these help me not just to centre myself on God but also remind me that God is present in all the seasons of the year and of my life.
Today’s exercise is adapted from a prayer posted on Facebook by my friend, Bob Holmes, otherwise known as The Contemplative Monk.
A breath prayer is a simple practice that provides a way to leave behind our rational, linear-thinking minds and aline more intimately with our spirits and the spirit of the living God. It encourages us to let our words and our intellect fade away and invites us into holy presence and spirit-filled being.
For this breath prayer, you will need a quiet and comfortable place in which to sit, a candle to light, some quiet contemplative music to listen to and a shawl or blanket to wrap yourself in.
We will begin with a prayer of invitation. The prayer I am using was written to welcome the new year but I continue to use it as a reminder that the year is still emerging in every new day, a sentiment that was reinforced for me as I read Psalm 50:1 (TPT) recently.
The God of gods, the mighty Lord himself, has spoken!
He shouts out over all the people of the earth
In every brilliant sunrise and ever beautiful sunset,
Saying, “Listen to me!” (Ps50:1 TPT)
You may prefer to begin with another Psalm like Psalm 23 or engage in another practice that enables you to relax into the peace of stillness. “The monastics call this entering the cave of our heart. The Franciscans sometimes pray with their head lower than their heart to remind themselves that it’s our heart first in approaching God.” (Bob Holmes)
I am posting this in both video and written form because I thought that some of you, like me might prefer to listen to rather than have to read through the exercise, particularly if you decide to use it on a regular basis over several days.
Let us begin:
Make yourself comfortable, light your candle, wrap yourself in your blanket or shawl, take a couple of deep breaths in and out, relax with the sound of your quiet music and enter the cave of your heart with a prayer.
A new day dawns,
A new year emerges.
Let us open our eyes and our ears.
To see and to hear.
There is hope
In every sunrise and every sunset
All around the world.
The light of hope will guide us.
Let us enter the cave of our hearts,
Entwine our hearts with God’s,
And allow the eternal in us
To welcome the wonder of each day.
Sit quietly, with your hands in you lap, palms facing upwards in a position of receptivity. Relax your shoulders, your jaw and other muscles where tension accumulates.
Relax and breathe.
Take three deep breaths slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Follow your breath into your lungs and imagine it infusing your blood and flowing into your heart. Release the weight of the day and slowly center yourself into the cave of your heart.
Breathe in the wonder of this moment.
Let the stillness soak into your being.
Slowly breathe out the fears and anxieties of the past.
Turn your thoughts away from your concerns for the future.
And allow your breathing to settle into a slow natural rhythm, breathing in, breathing out.
Breathe in your awareness of God’s forgiveness.
Breathe out, let go of what holds you bound.
Breathe in your trust in God’s guidance,
breathe out thanksgiving and gratitude.
Hold the name of Jesus in your hands.
Savour the specialness of his companionship.
Loving, compassionate, caring.
Imagine him walking beside you.
Let your face relax into a soft smile
Breathe in quietly saying “Je…” and out again saying “…sus”.
Allow the rhythm of your breathing to take you deeper and deeper into the divine presence.
Hold your shawl or blanket closely around you.
Embrace the presence of Jesus around you and in you.
Imagine him guiding you into the eternal arms of God.
Sense God welcoming you with divine healing and comfort.
You are Beloved, you belong, you are home.
Breathe… embracing your belonging,
Release your gratitude like a dove.
Breathe… allow yourself to feel the joy of God’s presence rejoicing in you.
You are precious in God’s sight.
Take your time, savour this moment of intimacy with the divine.
Soak in the presence of God, breathing in and breathing out.
With your inward breath saying “Je…” and with your outward “…sus”.
“Let all else fall away as you rest in divine presence, being, belonging, home and at peace.”
End with this prayer:
Deep peace, O creator of light.
Deep peace, O giver of life.
Deep peace, O lover of souls.
Let your peace reside in the depths of my being
And take root in the center of my heart.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us and abide in us forever.