Soul Sculpting Project: B.E.S.T. Breath
A Simple Breath Practice for Entering the Ease of Here and Now
It’s late spring time. All winter the snows come and knock our fences down. All spring we put them up again. The fences are on a ranch where the spring flowers are blooming, trees leafing out in bright fresh greens and the elk and deer are roaming around. It is quiet contemplative work. A perfect time to enjoy being in my parasympathetic nervous system. At-ease mode. But . . .
My mind is not always well-behaved. In this relaxed state my mind likes to make up stories. I, of course, think all these stories are completely true. (They are not.) Some of these stories encourage me to create the emotion: Anxiety.
In anxiety my parasympathetic nervous system moves over and my sympathetic nervous system takes over.
I gear up for action. My heart rate increases, my digestion shuts down as blood flow is prioritized to large muscles. My eyes dilate. My breathing gets faster to send more oxygen to my brain, glucose zooms into my bloodstream for an energy boost.
All this could be useful if a local bear lumbered into view. But there is no bear in sight. My body is not designed to live in a constant sympathetic mode. When I stay in this sympathetic mode for extended time I create health hazards throughout my body.
These self-talk stories call me out of the beautiful present moment. Flowers disappear. I fail to notice the shy deer.
Projecting into the future is a great human skill, but I don’t want to live all my days in another time zone. When I am fixing fences in paradise I want to live more in the present. The Now Time Zone.
This Soul Sculpting Project is a practice I do to call me back to here and now and put my parasympathetic system in charge. I hope you will join me.
We will use two tools:
- Intentional breath
- Attention to the here and now
These tools will help us turn on our parasympathetic nervous system and help us create calm, happiness, and better health.
Tool #1 Breath
Intentional Breath is one of the tools God has given us to promote our mental and physical health.
How we breathe influences our emotions. Emotions come with different breathing patterns.
- Breathe in a fast and shallow pattern and we will tend to choose feelings of panic.
- Breathe in a regular, smooth, deeper pattern and we will tend to turn on a sense of control and calm.
How we breathe also effects our physical health.
- Slow, deep breathing calls our parasympathetic nervous system into action. The slow deep exhale is especially significant in this call.
Here are a few of the many benefits of deep breathing practices discovered in research.
Intentional Deep Breath (Also called: diaphragmatic breath, abdominal breath, belly breath)
- Helps manage chronic pain
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves blood flow
- Increases energy level
- Improves memory and mental focus
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves digestion.
Tool #2 Attention to the Present Moment
- Many Christian thinkers believe that the skill of being in the present moment benefits our prayer and our connection with God, who is I AM – in the present tense of here and now.
- Science researchers find that the ability to give attention to the present moment increases our levels of happiness. This is true even when the present moment is not very pleasant – say being stuck in traffic.
- My personal experience is that spending mental time in the present moment is deeply rewarding to my soul and well-being.
Soul Sculpting Project: B.E.S.T. Breath
1- B Inhale – Notice your Body
- What is happening in your body?
- You might notice your muscles, heart-rate, posture, or the feel of your clothing?
2- E Inhale – Notice your Environment.
- What is around you in the here and now? Enter the present moment in this place.
3- S Inhale – Note that the Spiritual world surrounds you.
- There is more in the here and now than we can see with our eyes. Look with eyes of faith. God is in this place with and in us.
4- T Inhale – Take another breath. . . .
This project can be done:
- In less than 30 seconds or for a prolonged time.
- In the middle of a work day or in the middle of a sleepless night.
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.Genesis . 2:7