BREATH AND PRAISE

praise the momentIt was the shortest sermon he had ever heard, and the one that had the greatest impact on him. It consisted of just two words, “Live deliberately!”. Over the years he had pondered the advice of that elderly Archbishop. They had prodded him out of complacency and comfortable routine. People sometimes say things like, “I always watch the nine o’clock news and weather forecast” or,  “we go to Marbella for golf in May”. For those who live deliberately there is no “always”. “Always” lives in the past and takes it for granted that there will be a future. In reality there is only now. Now is the only time of which we can be sure. Living deliberately means cutting down on our tendency  to drift and instead living this moment to the full.

The 18th - century English writer, Samuel Johnson once said: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully”. There is surely great wisdom here. It  echoes the much older wisdom of the Bible: “teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise  heart”. (Psalm 90.12) Unconscious living fails to take on board the truth that our days are numbered.

It implicitly assumes that things will continue indefinitely in much the same way as they are now –  though there will be moments of fearful realization that things don't last. The stark fact is that we only have this day and this moment to live consciously, and with a sense that it is unique and irreplaceable.

An effective way of coming into and dwelling in the present moment is simply to sit and  observe the breath, without trying to control it in any way. Consciously staying with the breath can  give you a sense both of the preciousness and the fragility of life in this present moment.

Following breath awareness exercise is based on the very last verse from the Book of Psalms (150.6): “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.”

BREATH AND PRAISE


1. Sit comfortably and relaxed, focusing on the breath.

 2. As you receive and let go of the life-­giving breath, listen to how it is moving in you. By virtue of this breath you are a living creature. 

3. Imagine that the breath is gently murmuring the words “praise the Lord”, over and over within you. Let these words be moulded into the breath.

4. Stay with the breath and the words for at least five minutes.