“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 150
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As [God] has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-22
It’s a bit of a cliché by now that Spirit=Breath. Ancient Greek pneumos and ancient Hebrew ru’ach, which are synonyms for both “spirit” and “breath,” confirm it. It’s why Inspiration and Respiration (and Perspiration!) have the same root word.
But have you ever really thought about that: how every single inhalation you take, you are sucking God into your being?
Sometimes the perspiration kicks in bigtime, and I am anxious, and forget how to respirate properly. I think I can’t get enough oxygen, but the anatomical reality is, I’m hyperventilating and have gotten too much (can one have too much God in one’s lungs?). I’ve learned a little trick to get God moving into my being at the right pace. It’s called the 4.5.8 breath.
Breathe IN for a count of 4.
Hold breath for a count of 5.
Breathe OUT for a count of 8.
Rinse, and repeat, until sanity is restored.
When I’m panicked, I can’t always remember all the psalms and mantras and guided meditations I have learned to get me through, but I can always remember 4.5.8. God takes care of the rest.
1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4-5. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Amen.
Molly Baskette is lead pastor of the quirky, loveable and truth-telling First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. Read their personal testimonies in her latest book, Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.