Sometimes We Just Need to Breathe
Recently, thanks to a very wise and helpful person, I discovered the benefits of breathing. Yes, I know we need it to live, but until this year I don’t think I’d taken a deep breath in about fifteen years.
That might explain my stress level.
And my anxiety level.
And the fact that the second I lose confidence while singing I also lose volume.
As a singer, you’d think breathing would come naturally to me. Instead, “Now, take a deep breath” often prompted me to tense up.
How was it possible that I’d made to this age without mastering “a deep breath”? I knew how to hold my breath. I referred to breaths in my writing occasionally. (I took one of those deep breaths I’d heard so much about.) But as soon as I needed to take one on cue, my attempt got caught in my throat. On a good day, it might make it to my chest, my stomach might even expand a little. I secretly envied those who had it down and wondered what their secret was. I’d heard it was helpful in moments of stress, anxiety and nervousness, and I could use something helpful for such moments. Best of all, breathing was free.I don’t think I’d taken a deep breath in about fifteen years. Click To Tweet
It turned out that I needed to learn how to relax first (something else I hadn’t done in about fifteen years), and relaxing takes practice, like singing and writing, knitting and crocheting, and all the other crafts and disciplines I’ve tried to master. I can pray and remember the truths of Scripture, but if my body refuses to cooperate with “Don’t be anxious about anything,” those powerful words only go so far. Sometimes it requires getting alone with God, my Bible and journal, and/or something that smells really good. (I highly recommend any combination of lavender, geranium, bergamot, and frankincense. Sweet orange and ylang ylang are also lovely.) It means admitting I’m tense for whatever reason, or no reason because tense is my default. Sometimes it requires taking a walk, ending my day with crocheting a coaster or heart sachet (I make a lot of those), or working time with a friend into my week.
I am thankful to report that, while I am still working on relaxing on a more consistent basis, I can now take a deep breath, it has stopped feeling foreign and weird, and it really does work. The other day, I took several before delivering some disappointing news to someone via e-mail, and I got through the entire message without shaking.
You might be wondering, Why is Jeanette suddenly writing about breathing? First it was mail that isn’t a bill, then it was cold brew coffee, and now breathing? She is all over the place these days! Maybe her next post will be about focus.
Here’s my excuse… I mean answer: Shortly after discovering how much I stunk at breathing, I received an assignment to contribute to this devotional journal:
Isn’t God’s timing hilarious sometimes? I spent a month writing ten meditations about letting go of anxiety, calling on Him in moments of panic, and recognizing when we need to just (dramatic pause) breathe. This required tapping into my own experiencing with anxiety, nervousness, adjusting to change, and getting through difficult times without losing it completely. It turned out that I knew what relaxed me! Julie and I had our “It’s time for pie” tradition; I had my secret bench; I recognized the benefit of attending my friend Ethel’s poetry workshop just to hear her soothing voice… I’d even breathed once and felt it make a difference. I’d seen how learning to rest helped me connect with Jesus. I just needed to do it more often instead of seeing it as a guilty pleasure that I was getting away with. (“Please keep this between us, but I sneaked to my favorite bench last night and prayed.”)
Sometimes we just need to breathe. Or take a walk, or hear a friend’s soothing voice, or…
What helps you relax? What helps you leave your concerns with Jesus?Sometimes we just need to breathe. Click To Tweet
My box of contributors’ copies arrived last week, just when I’d realized that I was finally getting the hang of breathing and planned to do it more often. How beautiful is that? I immediately wanted to give one away to someone who, like me, struggles to relax.
Would you like to try winning a copy of Just Breathe, either for yourself or someone you know who could use it?
Name one thing that helps you let go of stress, calm down when you’re nervous, feel better when you’re down, improve a difficult day, or connect with Jesus in a unique way. Leave a comment here or on Facebook, and I’ll enter your name in my drawing. Share this post and I’ll enter it twice! (Let me know you shared it in case I can’t tell.)
My assistant, Nathan, will draw a name on Tuesday, August 8.
I don’t know what I’ll do when he grows up and is no longer around to draw the names of winners. Now I really need to take a deep breath!Would you like to try winning a copy of Just Breathe? Click To Tweet