Just Breathe!!

O.K. here’s the experiment….for just one minute DON’T think about your breathing.  Don’t think about your lungs pulling in air.  Don’t think about whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth.  Don’t notice your chest rising and falling.  Don’t realize that it’s been a few seconds now that you haven’t breathed.  Do this for one minute.  Go!


30 seconds…


 Time’s up.  Now, how many of you broke the rules?  Be honest.  The minute that I said DON’T notice your breathing you started noticing it, didn’t you?  You breathed deeper.  You felt yourself trying hard not to notice it, but when you did you noticed that you stopped breathing — which isn’t a good thing for very long.  In fact as I type this I’m about to hyperventilate!

 Why is it that breathing is something that we do 24/7 but rarely ever notice it?  It moves freely in and out of our consciousness and yet we continue to breathe.  There have been days and even weeks probably in your life that you haven’t noticed your breathing.  But take it away for just a little while and you notice it (like that time at the pool when one of the big kids held your head under a little too long!).

Breathing is life.  Don’t breathe, don’t live.  It’s pretty simple really.  Breathing is also a great metaphor.  Have you ever had your “breath taken away” by someone or something?  Have you ever had the “wind knocked out of you?”  “Breathing new life” into some project or relationship can be very fulfilling.

I wonder if that is the reason that God uses the image of “breath, wind, or spirit” in the Bible.  The word for all three is the same (pneuma).  In the opening of the Story God “breathes life” into Adam.  And from that point on the Spirit (breath) of God is active and alive.  Jesus speaks to Nicodemus of wind (pneuma) and spirit (pneuma) as if Nic should know what he’s talking so naturally about.  It all makes me wonder if we make the whole thing too difficult.

For about the first 18 years of my life my parents tried to make me “concentrate on my breathing.”  It seems that there were some small problems with my lungs when I was younger and they wanted to make sure that my breathing capacity was strong so they would try to get me to do breathing exercises.  I don’t know if you’ve ever done “breathing exercises” but it’s really kind of irritating.  Once you notice your breathing it becomes much more work than when you didn’t notice it.  You feel yourself trying to breathe.  You pay attention to the muscles that it takes.  And you never really feel like you’re getting enough air (I saw you take a deep breath just then!).

We do the same with the “Christian life.”  We think about it too much.  We want to make sure that we’re making all of the right movements.  We notice whether or not we’re doing enough or doing the right things.   We notice if others are doing the right things!  We put rules and regulations on how deep we can breathe or how often.  And we tend to relegate our main breathing time to a large building on Sunday mornings with other “wind suckers” and then hold our breath until the next Sunday!

Kingdom living is life.  We’re in it all of the time.  We participate.  We play our part.  When we come under the reign of God we live out and contribute to the Story without even noticing it.  It’s like breathing.  Natural.  Take it away — and die.   But think about it too much…make it too difficult…and it becomes laborious.  Personally I like the fact that after I’m through writing this…I’ll get distracted by something else and my breathing will go back to normal.  Maybe, someday, my life in the Kingdom will be the same way.

Just breathe. 


~ by Chris Green on June 23, 2006.

2 Responses to “Just Breathe!!”

  1. I took that really deep breath right on cue….

  2. :0) Smile while you breathe :0)

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