Breathe Your Way To A Happier Healthier Life
In my articles about Christian meditation and how it first came to exist (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I shared with you that early civilization began calling, or more precisely chanting, the name of the Lord (YHVH) in an effort to remain pure and worthy in the eyes of God.
Now I'm going to share with you what happens when you practice the meditation described in Genesis 4:26
How Rhythmic Breathing Patterns Affects You In Positive Ways
It's no secret that an awareness of breath is a central theme to all meditations. Regardless of religious affiliation, or philosophy, a focus on the breath is cornerstone to letting the mind, and body, naturally achieve a state of relaxation (or stillness Ps 46:10).
Buddhism, Yoga, transcendental meditation, and even mindfulness meditation, all incorporate the breath in one way or another. Clearly humans have understood the relationship between the breath and winding down to a healthy mental state. How and why God designed the body to produce healthy alpha and theta brain waves while practicing controlled breathing patterns is what we will explore.
Without a doubt, Yoga practices lead the way in breathing disciplines and have developed techniques of different frequencies, lengths, intensities, and with varying end-inspiratory and end-expiratory holds. They are some of the most practiced and explored breathing patterns. Because documentation is extensive we will start here.
A 2005 study made public by US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that rhythmic breathing helped cancer patients who had completed their standard medical treatment boosted natural killer (NK) cells significantly (P <0.001) after 12 weeks of practicing rhythmic breathing. The Increase of NK cells was even more pronounced at the 24 week mark (P <0.05) compared to the controlled baseline. Clearly this is evidence that God designed the "breath" to be life for us, and if we become more aware of our breath it becomes health to our body.
Interestingly the study also revealed that it helped control tobacco cravings by 21%. Individuals who were followed up after 6 months were still off the tobacco habit. Breathing is an inexpensive and easy way boost NK cells and a reduce in tobacco consumption.
In a newer 2013 study and meta-analysis it was observed that controlled breathing stimulates the vagus nerve enhancing numerous autonomic that included healthy changes in heart rate, improved cognition in Alzheimer's disease, improved bowel function, etc.
It was noted that the influence of diverse fiber groups within the vagus nerves, is the cause of various physiologic changes in organs, glands, and ascending fibers to thalamic generators, limbic system, and cortical areas of the brain. Additionally, the effectual experience of subjects was described as calm, relaxed, assertive combined with increased vigilance and acute attention. In other words, people felt great!
In another significant analysis, Dr. Alan Watkins made the connection between our heart rate and our mental and bodily health. He noted that we are at our healthiest and sharpest, with greater chance of longevity when our heart rate has a steady rhythmic pattern with a few natural variations between pulses.
It turns out that our breathing affects our heart rate, and a consistent rhythmic pulse helps the brain to naturally enter into higher levels of performance. Memory, cognition, creativity, mood balance, and lucid thinking is all naturally improved through rhythmic breathing.
Should Christians Practice Breathing Meditations?
Here's another question. Do you have human physiology? The answer is a resounding yes! Every person interested in naturally improving mind and body should practice breathing correctly. God designed your body to be healthy, and we can do many things to improve our health, correcting unbalanced shallow breathing is one more thing you can do to improve life.
A better question is, how should a Christian perform breathing exercises. First, a Christian should not engage in pagan practices or occult rituals. Many of today's secular meditative practices are steeped with strange concepts foreign to the Bible.
Genesis 4:26 however provides a biblical template for a chanting meditation that is impossible to perform without rhythmic breathing.
Genesis 4:26 YHVH Meditation
To perform this meditation one would simply inhale and upon releasing, the name of God would be pronounced, or called.
By repeating the process a person is forced to control the breathing pattern by inhaling more deeply and gradually lengthening the exhale.
The paramount difference between this practice and others is that it focuses on God. Biblically speaking, it is a way of calling on the Lord's name, a practice that has been in existence since Adam.