Day Five: God Inspires You With Every Breath

Peace of mind is as near as your next breath. Breathe in the spirit of health, healing, and peace. When life around you is chaotic, pause a moment to breathe deeply. You will find new energy, insight, and courage.

Sometimes the simplest spiritual practices can be the most life-transforming. As a graduate student at Claremont in the late 1970’s, I learned a simple breath prayer from retired United Church of Christ pastor, Allan Armstrong Hunter. With every inhalation, I said to myself “I breathe the Spirit deeply in.” As I exhaled, I said to myself, “I breathe it gratefully out again.” I could change the words to reflect my spiritual or emotional condition, “I breathe it anxiously out again” or “I breathe it calmly out again.”

Later on, I learned the importance of breath prayer in Buddhism from the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

With every breath, we can experience peace, inspiration, and divine guidance. Whether we speak of breath in terms of pneuma (Spirit), ruach, prana, or chi, our breath connects us to the healing and enlightening energies of life. The apostle Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit inspiring and praying within us in “sighs too deep for words.” Every breath can be a prayer, and every breath can become an opening to divine wisdom and insight. Every breath can connect us with a reservoir of peace that enables us to face the challenges of the new year creatively and calmly.

Today, simply breathe! You can’t help it, can you? But, you can breathe with awareness or with anxiety. As you inhale, plant the thought as affirmation:
I breathe the spirit deeply in.
As you exhale, simply let go of every burden and anxiety, sending your cares out into the love of God which transforms our cares into compassion.

You may also choose an affirmation such as:
God inspires me with every breath.
I receive divine guidance and energy with every breath.

Throughout the day, simply be mindful of your breathing. Welcome the universe and all of God’s resources with each breath. Experience the goodness of each breath, knowing that peace and inspiration are just a breath away.

About Bruce Epperly

Rev. Bruce Epperly, Ph.D., serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, MA. Prior to coming to Cape Cod in 2013, he served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University, Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Bruce is currently a professor in spirituality, ministry, and theology in the doctoral program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. He has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is the author or co-author of over 35 books in the areas of theology, spirituality, ministerial excellence and spiritual formation, scripture, and healing and wholeness, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God; Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job; From Here to Eternity: Preparing for the Next Adventure; and A Center in the Cyclone: Clergy Self-care in the 21st Century.