Every Breath a Prayer


Weeks ago, probably more than a month, in fact, my Mom sent me a link to a You Tube video called “Becoming Stillness” and asked what I thought about it. The video looked interesting: something about mindfulness and contemplative prayer and the nature of finding spirituality in our modern world. I’m not traditionally religious, but contemplative spirituality is in my wheelhouse. The bottom line is: the video looked interesting and I wanted to watch it, but it also looked like it was an hour long. It also seemed like it was probably the kind of thing that was going to require that hour all at once; not something that I was going to be able to pick up and put down in between other tasks.

So I put it off. I saved the email that it came in as “unread” so that it would stay near the top of my inbox and otherwise forgot about it. I made one attempt to watch it ( or at least to listen to it) on a quiet day at my internship while I was doing some data entry, but when the video began describing our modern mindset as a “Mexican jumping bean mentality” right as I was trying to navigate between several internet tabs as well as keep an ear out for anyone who might need my help with one of the several projects going on at the time I decided that I probably was in the wrong mindset to be listening about becoming stillness.

So there was one false start.

Today I decided to give it another try. I was organizing my receipts from the past three months which meant that I was going to be sitting quietly at a table for at least an hour. I decided that, while it wasn’t going to be my perfect, full, undiluted attention that it was going to be as good as I was likely to get.

It’s probably true that our Mexican jumping bean mentality is not the right mindset for contemplative spirituality, but it is a factor of reality of the world in which we live. I can’t help but wonder whether the only way to spiritual contemplation is through physical stillness whether it is possible to engage the whole, moving body of our existence in the task of spiritual pursuits. For me this typically means running: a time when I’m in physical motion and can allow my mind to be no-mind and I don’t need an excess of reason or analytical thought.

I’m still digesting the video, so my deductions are likely to be incomplete, but there was a portion the video discussing the fact that the name of god, written as Yahweh, was designed to be spoken without the use of lips or tongue. That it was, in fact, the sound of an inhaled and exhaled breath. Every breath, therefore, becomes a prayer: the name of god spoken in every minute of every day from birth to death.

This was a profound thought. I dealt with it in the usual way: by wondering what god thought of the pronunciation of his name by snorers, or by nose breathers with whistling nostrils, or what have you. Ha ha. Jokes. But the idea stuck in my mind all through my run: when breathing was rather forefront to my attention, and I thought that it wasn’t a bad way to pray, all things considered.

So anyway, like I said, I’m still digesting it. I’m sure an hour or two of quiet contemplation and stillness will bring it all into focus so I might have a better perspective on it in a month or so. You know, when life gets orderly and my schedule gets manageable. Until then, the Mexican jumping bean’s gotta jump.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 12, 2015.

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