"Experiencing my body, I breathe in.
Smiling to my body. I breathe out.
Calming my body, I breathe in.
Smiling to my body. I breathe out."

Thich Nhat Hanh has taught me more about my body than any other living spiritual teacher. Above is an example. It's a way of appreciating my body and specifically my lungs.

We take about 25,000 breaths a day, inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, seldom thinking about our lungs until we have a problem. There are many ways to protect our lungs and show our love for them. We can stay away from tobacco smoke, avoid exposure to air pollution, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, eat vegetables and fruits with antidoxidants in them, and have regular checkups on our lungs.

Breath by breath we make it through another day. For those who breathe deeply, the tensions in the body are released naturally. Here is a drug-free antidote to stress, depression, insomnia, and trauma-induced emotions and behaviors. For those who breathe shallowly, the stress and anxieties of work and everyday life are locked into the places in the body that don't move as we breathe.

Various breathing techniques are recommended in yoga practice, Buddhist meditation, and the Chinese exercises of tai chi and qigong. Here's one from the Christian tradition.

This exercise, "God in My Breath" is a brief version of one Anthony de Mello presents in Sadhana: A Way to God. The intention is to bring God within — en theos.

"Close your eyes and practice breath awareness for a while. . . . Reflect now that this air that you are breathing in is charged with the power and the presence of God . . . Notice what you feel when you become aware that you are drawing God in with each breath you take.

Now while you breathe in, fill your lungs with the divine energy . . . While you breathe out, imagine you are breathing out all your impurities . . . your fears . . . your negative feelings . . . your apathy . . . your boredom . . . Imagine your whole body becoming radiant and alive through this process of breathing in God's life-giving Spirit and breathing out all your impurities.

Stay with this awareness as long as you can without distractions."


Next Post: Arms, Hugs & Cuddles: The Path of Connections