Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
Lately, I’ve been using the app Calm on my smart phone to help me learn how to meditate. According to Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk in the Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma the practice of meditation through mindfulness or yoga has proven to be very beneficial to those who have suffered from trauma. Learning how to focus on one’s breathing can actually slow down our heart rates and help our bodies and minds to be more peaceful and function more effectively.
In an interview with Dr. Van Der Kolk, he says about yoga,
Yoga helps regulate emotional and physiological states. It allows the body to regain its natural movement and teaches the use of breath for self-regulation. What is beautiful about Yoga is that it teaches us—and this is a critical point for those who feel trapped in their memory sensations—that things come to an end.
I have realized through practicing mediation through mindfulness that my mind regularly goes to places it doesn’t need to – taking me down a fearful path of worrying about the future, about what people think, about all the mistakes I have made in the past. Often these paths of worry lead to shame. And when I’m on them they indeed feel like they will never end.
Last week, I’d just had it with this flood of thoughts keeping me afraid. I thought to myself I’m so tired of this. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what others are thinking, and even if they are thinking badly about me then what can I do about it?! This is ridiculous and I’ve gotta stop it. I prayed for the wisdom and the grace of God to help me not to do this.
Relief didn’t come instantly, but my frustrations did cause me to recognize that I’d allowed my thoughts to take me to places that were affecting my ability to function well. I was exhausted and having trouble concentrating.
So this morning I opened up the Calm app that I hadn’t used in a few days and focused on my breathing in an effort to start this day in a better state physically and mentally.
I used to think as a Christian that mediation was something that Buddhists did. In my early days of belief, I thought that mediating might open one up to evil spirits. I was afraid to do anything of the sort. But I’m discovering that mediation is not just something to be used by those in Eastern religions. Mediation is an opportunity for those of us in the chaotic Western culture to be still and know that God is with us in the very breath that we breathe.
I’m discovering that mediation does indeed lessen the effects of my triggered mind. It helps to teach me how not to overreact to negative stimuli around me. As I breath in, I often imagine the negative thoughts bombarding my mind are being given to God. As I breath out, I remind myself that I can let go and trust Him to provide. After all, He’s given that very breath to me. Just focusing on my breathing allows me to live in present moment, not in the shame of the past, or the fears of the future. Jesus is with me and He has forgiven and promised hope. Meditation is teaching me that at the end of myself when I think I just can’t do it anymore, His strength is always there and I don’t have to.
…For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
Just Breathe Johny Diaz