Remembering to Breathe

“The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.” –  Rebecca Harding Davis


I have had the privilege of experiencing and participating in the birth of each of my three children.  As I took part in this wonderful miracle I remember the lessons taught to me and their mom about breathing during Lamaze classes. I’ll admit like most men, I wasn’t too keen on participating with this, but I learned according to,

Deep breathing initiates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and relax” state. When the body is situated in this state, the heart rate slows down, intestinal and glandular activity increase, and the sphincter muscles relax.  All of these occurrences support the body’s ability to birth more easily. 



So even though I still don’t all together understand the science behind this I will agree it works.  Imagine that, how just breathing in a certain way can have such a significant impact on one of life’s most precious miracles! As I reflect on the importance of breathing correctly during this time I cannot help but think of the many times I could have used this same technique to release some of my tension during a stressful time, paused for a few minutes prior to making an important decision or simply to help me relax prior to sleeping for the night.  It almost seems to easy to be effective.  So easy that many of us choose to seek more complex solutions to answers that could be right before us.  In this our journeys become longer, harder and much more complex than they need to be, but I suppose these are the lessons that we must learn, and as we grow these journeys become shorter and simpler depending on what we have actually acquired. 

How we approach the difficulties in our lives is directly tied to our life experiences.  For example if I have consistently failed at some particular thing, whether a relationship, educational pursuit or working on personal growth, I will approach that thing potentially with doubt and anxiousness.  I will replay my past scenarios and essentially allow the script to write itself.  Stepping back to mediate, pray or think of the situation from a different perspective unfortunately is not our typical plan of attack.  It easier for us to worry about the outcome, imagine all the ways we could fail and what that failure looks like, than it is to possess the faith and belief to see a dream come into fruition.  That said, we must change our experiences in order to change our behaviors.

I remember a night, after finally accepting that a relationship was really over.  The air felt so thick that it was as if I could suffocate from it.  Everything about my life at that time seemed like it was in a state of confusion.  I reflected on pictures, pleasant memories and what was imperative for me to do with my next steps.  It was not until I had released that I had failed, at yet another marriage was I able to move forward.  In that state of humility I took many deep breaths of reflection, regret and remorse.  This place of reflection not only allowed me to see my part with the failure of my relationship, but it also permitted me to take responsibility for it and take essential steps to help others heal, along with myself.

My choice to finally be still during this time of duress versus essentially traveling in perpetual circles proved to be the turning point in my journey to become whole.  The ability to cast down guilt, naysayers and being my own worst enemy was critical to any hope that I was going to attain and sustain.  I attribute the ability to move forward to my faith in God, the power of His Spirit and the art of reflecting.  You see it was that night of reflection that created the opportunity for me to clearly see how I had screwed things up.  Breathing deeply forced me to go deeper into the “why” I was making poor relational decisions versus stopping at only the “what”.  These are the questions I failed to ask myself in times prior, so it was easy to continue, business as usual.  Jacking up people’s lives, including my own.  

For years I would awake in the middle of the night clinching and grinding my teeth due to stress.  I would worry about what others thought of me, how my life got to where it was and how I was going to make improvements. The steps to becoming whole were profound, but they were not necessarily these earth-shattering moments for everyone to witness.  It was during my quiet times where the changes began.  During these quiet times, I prayed, journaled and reflected on my past.  I wanted answers that only God could give me.  Although I had a few great counselors and friends, it was not their responsibility to give me answers, only to show me the way towards some of them. Ultimately I had to muster up the courage and dare to believe that life could go on again, but this time in a better way.  This did not mean that I did not have a past to reconcile with, but it did mean that I no longer had to be defined by it.  


Learning to take a moment to pause and breathe has helped my life tremendously.  Once I stopped reacting and pointlessly defending myself to people who really had no impact on my life was when I begin live free of bondage. Even when others do have an impact on my life, I still choose to make decisions based on my truth, not theirs.  I consult others when absolutely essential, but the choices I make regarding my life and future are not up for a democratic vote.  As I pause and take the time to seek the best answers for me, I do it with grace, gratitude and patience – all while taking the time to breathe deeply.  In this place, even when the outcome is less than desired, because I have owned it and understood the real risk or potential issues regarding it, I still have a peace that keeps me still and content.

What dreams or life purposes are you giving up too soon on due to a poor perspective?  Let’s take some advice from the many women during labor that must push, breathe and believe the pain of childbirth will ultimately deliver a new life.  Let’s push our dreams and life goals out with a perspective of grace, gratitude and patience along with a commitment for a better tomorrow for us and all those involved.  Let us remember to breathe deeply and as each breath is released from our lungs we enable our body’s, soul’s and spirit’s to reflect on the greater purpose that God has for us.  As we each recognize that the air we breathe is essential for life, let us also recognize the way in which we take that air in and out of our bodies is just as important.  

We have the power to impact our own atmosphere with the ideas, perspectives and level of faith we bring to each circumstance and situation we face, and although breathing has become an involuntary act since birth for every healthy human being, how we breathe has not.  As I have learned, remembering to breathe is not just the simple act of inhaling and exhaling, but at the most critical times it is the choice to breathe deeply, reflect and pause, which can literally alter our current state, like it does during child-birth.

Keep Pressing,

Hank G


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