Take a deep breath. Are you aware that breathing itself is one simple yet profound form of communion between each of us and the life around us? Whether we are believers, agnostics, or atheists, we all draw in the healing powers of oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants, in turn, gladly receive this exhaled gift and provide us with fresh air again. If you look into the practices of many religions, you’ll find they begin right here, with the centering power of breath. For instance, one Buddhist meditation with a powerful calming effect brings your attention to the sensation of the inflow and outflow of breath at the tip of your nose. In another example, the Sufis, calling upon the names of God, begin with vocalizations that become more and more refined until they simply travel on the breath itself. Across religious boundaries, the breath expresses itself in the sacred Word, and humbly withdraws again to bestow upon us holy Silence.
What is your breath like right now? Does it become more peaceful and quiet as you pay attention to it? In what ways does focusing on it make you feel more at home here and now? Take time simply to breathe. Be aware that we all share in this ritual moment by moment, wittingly or unwittingly. The more conscious we are of it, the more connected we become with all life. That connectedness has much to do with the underlying meaning of each and every religion.
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