In practicing mindfulness and yoga, the breath is our anchor–when our minds try to tiptoe away toward distraction, we smile and gently remind our brains that our lungs are taking over for the present.
In our lives, we try to let the Holy Spirit take over. We focus on God’s presence, God’s love surrounding us–just like the air we breathe–and we accept and let go of the other things that swirl up around us, tempting us away from the breath, distracting us from God.
Part of the breath’s power in yoga is how, during challenging poses, we imagine that as the breath and the heat it creates is being sent throughout our bodies–especially to those places that are in need of some loosening or some clearing out, allowing a deeper twist or a more complete bend.
The Holy Spirit is the Breath of Life that comes into our bodies, eager to brush out the stinky, dark bits inside us that are holding us back (or maybe that we’re holding on to). God’s breath is the loosening, healing, heating agent of our souls.
Today, walking with my dog, I was practicing some deep breathing, and as I sometimes do, I was forcing the breath out, contracting my stomach to really squeeze out all the air–mostly because I love the energizing rush of air that rushes into my lungs afterward. It occurred to me all at once that perhaps, just like our literal breath (and just like so many figurative, spiritual applications as I’ve found and shared above), the Holy Spirit is most ready to come in and fill us up with God’s presence and power when we’ve gotten the emptiest.
As Thomas Keating puts it, “The Gospel teaches that Christ is present in the storm, not just in emerging from the storm.”