From Jeff: Mandy Thompson is guest blogging today. This is a special day, because we're not talking about the creative process. We're talking about resting — a necessary discipline for any creative. To connect with Mandy, you can check out her blog, visit her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.
In my earliest childhood memory, I tumbled off a swing and landed on my back, pushing all the air out of my little girl lungs.
In a panic over what felt like impending death, I jumped up and sprinted towards my dad. Airless, my lungs lacked the oxygen that my body needed to cross our country lawn, and I passed out.
A few years later, my biology teacher shed light on that scary experience as we studied the process of breathing. In that class I learned the two most important functions of breathing:
- Increased Energy: When we take in oxygen, we take in energy that flows throughout our body. We take in a life-giving resource that we can not function without.
- Decreased Waste: With this exchange of energy through our bloodstream, carbon-monoxide builds up in our lungs, and we have to get it out by exhaling. If it stays in us, we will be poisoned.
The bottom line? If we aren’t breathing, we aren’t living.
We all know this.
Our spirits must breathe
In the same way that physical breathing is necessary for our body’s energy and health, so spiritual breathing brings us to a place of inner energy and health.
There are a variety of ways to practice the rhythm of spiritually inhaling and exhaling. We practice spiritual breathing by methods that still our mind and draws our hearts into an awareness of God and of ourselves.
It’s a discipline of focus, which takes intentional withdrawal from noise and distractions.
How spiritual breathing affects us
When we focus on spiritual inhaling, we find ways to deeply and deliberately fill our insides with the things that bring life. Considering this from a place of faith, I better understand the Breath of Life.
In the Bible, this marked the moment of human creation — where Adam was considered alive. And the same is true of us both physically and spiritually. Breath is a source of life for our souls.
Our souls also need the exhale
Whether this be journaling, confessing, praying, talking or meditating, our spirits must have an outlet.
No matter the method, the goal is to clean out our souls so our creative energy is not distracted by the frustrations of life. We make a deliberate exchange through this exhalation.
Spiritual breathing looks different for everyone
Many people need to be in a physical place that inspires rest: the beach, a mountain cabin, a retreat.
Others steal snippets of spiritual breathing by going on a walk or sit outside with an inspiring book or engage in a moment of silent meditation during a worship service.
The goal is to find what works for your soul, and practice it regularly. Breathe in, and breathe out. Inhale and exhale. When you do this, you will find that your creative energy increases and fresh ideas will come to the surface.
When our bodies are most active, our breathing increases. The same is true of our creative souls. We need to make sure we take time to slow down and catch our breath.
What should you do to slow down and catch your spiritual breath today?
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*Photos courtesy of Mandy Thompson. (Aren't they awesome? Look her up on Instagram.)