by Dr. Tina Marcantel

Get still long enough to be present with the breath of God that is within you.

Woman meditation in the office workplaceThe act of breathing is something we often take for granted. We’re usually not conscious of its importance for sustaining life until we’re somehow deprived of our next breath. But I like to think of breathing as more than a simple exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. For me, it is a connection with my Creator.

When administering traditional CPR a person breathes into the mouth of another “the breath of life.” Without the rescuer’s breath, the victim can’t receive the oxygen necessary to sustain life. In the same way, I consider each breath I take a gift from God that not only keeps me alive, but also connects me to the spiritual and physical world that surrounds me.

Consider the healthy advantages of taking a few minutes each day to be conscious of a few cycles of inhalation and exhalation of the breath. Here are some of the many benefits the calming effects that the simple but profound breath of consciousness bestows on us:

1. A calm mind. Conscious breathing grounds us in the present moment. It stills the mind and frees it from chatter. Focusing on breathing in and out allows us to be aware of the present moment. Most of us spend the majority of our life in our heads—thinking of the past and the future. We are lost in thought. We are not in the present moment feeling our bodies tasting what we are eating, enjoying the smells of nature, or hearing the sounds of the symphony of the birds as we walk outdoors. We often miss the enjoyment of our senses.

The senses are on hold because the mind is in control with chatter from all the things we’ve already done or still need to do. That mind chatter for me at times is like having an attention deficit disorder as thoughts jump from one subject to another with very little focus. When we are able to observe the thought chatter without losing ourselves in it we are becoming aware of consciousness. We realize that our thoughts do not necessarily reflect our true nature.

When we concentrate on the breath—slowly inhaling and exhaling—we have our attention on the act of breathing instead of the mind chatter. We become aware of our bodies and being in the present moment. When the mind is still the body is still, and we begin to recognize the beauty of the world around us.

2. A calm nervous system. As the body becomes still, the endocrine system becomes balanced, bringing the body peace and stillness. The calming of the nervous system results in a decrease for the need of stress hormones. The stress hormone cortisol handles long-term stress (our daily challenges) and adrenaline will help us cope with acute stressors such as a sudden car accident. Chronic release of stress hormones leads to inflammation. When the body is in a place of homeostasis (balance) there is a decreased inflammatory process that helps to decrease disease on all the organ systems.

3. A conscious connection to the divine. Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” As we calm the mind and body, we hear the whisper of our soul that speaks of our connection with the spiritual world that surrounds us.

As the mind is still and the body is relaxed and we focus on the breath that assists us in relieving the mind chatter, it is then that we truly begin to reap the rewards of peace. We become aligned with the divine nature within us. We feel the love and peace of God. That LOVE will whisper answers to our questions, solutions to our lives’ everyday problems.

It all begins with awareness of the breath that calms our very being and aligns us with our true divine selves, bringing the flow of heaven on earth. Today, take just a few minutes to breath consciously. There is no telling what benefits you will discover!