Observe your normal breathing. Now take a deep breath. Close your mouth, inhale, and allow your abdomen to expand fully, and then exhale and release all of the air. Alternate between normal breathing and deep breathing, and notice how it feels.
I have asked my students how they feel after breathing exercises, and their responses are all over the map. Some find it extremely uncomfortable. Some feel relaxed and refreshed. Some feel slowed down. Some are just bored and don’t feel anything at all. Everyone has different experiences with it, but here is what I know to be true: we are accustomed to shallow breathing, which draws minimal breath into the lungs, and deep breathing acts as a powerful self-healing mechanism.
If nothing else, we can all at least agree on one thing: breathing is vital. We have to breathe in order to function. And the more intentional we are with our breathing, the better our bodies will operate. Without breath, there is death. Breath is what sustains us. Physically speaking, it is what gives us life.
The prophet Ezekiel describes this idea quite well:
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” -Ezekiel 37: 1-6
We see this image of death and hopelessness. And then we see resurrection. We see hope. We see life.. Breath dwells in the bones, and the Spirit dwells in us. The Hebrew word for “Spirit” is the same as the word used for “breath.”
Ruwach: rü'·akh, feminine noun—wind, breath, mind, spirit (emotional disposition; being of man or animal), Spirit of God
The breath—ruwach—enters and brings physical life. The Spirit—ruwach—enters and brings spiritual life. Our bodies are nothing without breath in our lungs, and our spiritual lives are destitute without the Spirit as our guide. Whether we realize it or not, we are just as dependent on the Holy Spirit for our spiritual health as we are on our breath for our physical health. He is our advocate, our source of wisdom, our intercessor, and our guide.
What if with every breath we took we remembered our dependence on the Spirit?
Yahweh, a sacred Hebrew name for God, is made up of aspirated consonants (YHWH) that are replicated in the sound of our breathing. In the original pronunciation, the “yah” is the same sound as an inhale, and the “weh” is the same sound as an exhale. In other words, this name of God is proclaimed with every breath we take. Every breath is an utterance of His name, and we are worshiping with each inhale and each exhale.
Now take a minute to breathe. Inhale—His Spirit is in you. Exhale—His name is proclaimed through you. Not because of your goodness or your efforts, but because of your dependence.
I want to encourage you to breathe deep today. And remember that with every breath you take, you declare His name—the name that all darkness, even death, submits to.