Friday, September 11, 2015

Just Take a Deep Breath!

       Feeling a bit worn down?  Stop…Take a deep breath in.  Watch your stomach rise. Hold it… Slowly let it out, pursing your lips.  Repeat a few times. 

The exercise of deep breathing is a relaxation technique I teach in some of our evidence based classes for chronic disease or chronic pain self management. Could there be something more to the calming effect of moving air in and out of our bodies?  I believe there is because if you just took a breath, you’ve called upon the name of God- YHWH.  What?     Literally, the name of God is breath.

When Moses asked God what His name was, he replied,”YHWH.” (Exodus 13:13-15)   (We’ve made it into Yahweh) but the original text looked like this:
     יהוה  (Yod Heh Vav Heh)

Yod, rhymes with “rode”, which we transliterate “Y”
Heh, rhymes with “say”, which we transliterate “H”
Vav, like “lava”, which we transliterate “V” or “W”
He rhymes with “say”, which we transliterate “H” 

     Jewish scholars have said that the letter YHWH make breathing sounds. Without any vowels they are aspirated consonants in the Hebrew alphabet. (Rabbi Arthur Waskow) In the Siddur, (Jewish prayer book) it says: "Nishmat kol chai tivarech et SHIMCHA." ("The breathing of all life praises your Name.") For the Breathing of all life IS Your Name. Over the years we added an A and an E to make the word Yahweh. 

     I’ve been meditating on this subject all week. What if God’s name=the sound of our breathing? How BIG God becomes in our lives and in our world. And what does this mean? Here are some random thoughts that have been rolling around my head: 
  •  If God’s name is the breath of life – it means God is intimate and moving in us. When we can no longer speak his name on earth (breathe), we must leave our temporal home. On the flip side, when a new born babe is about to take in that first breath- the room waits for it, we wait to hear God’s name. The first cry excites a room like no other.
  • Our intimate God has purposely excluded age, race, culture, language to define who can speak to Him. (its not just a Hebrew word) He chose to use the one thing we all need to exist- our breath to communicate. He is the God of us all and we are all equal in His sight. 
  • Expand the thought of breath=God’s name and the bigger God gets. He is God of all – he encompasses all life-forms! Trees breathe, animals breathe and so on. Now step into the earth breathing. It does! Check this out: : How about the universe? God’s breath is everywhere! 
  Perhaps breathing is a little more like praying?
  • Accelerated breathing with pain or stress- God’s name is rapidly repeated YHWH, YHWH
  • Shallow quiet breathing: The peace of God accompanies His name, YHWH
  • Labored breathing: the God of strength and power rides on His name with each huff and puff –YHWH!
  • Gasps of air through tears: We cling to and gulp down the comforting pacifying YHWH … YHWH …. YHWH.
      In days ahead, I will be the delivery room for my grandsons.  I will be touched as both my daughter and daughter in law breathe that labored breathing through pain and discomfort for they will be calling on the name of YHWH to sustain them and carry them through. They won’t need human words.  He will be right in the middle of the mess.  Even more exhilarating will be the sound of the first cries off the lips of my new grand offspring declaring, YHWH!   They’ll simply be speaking the language of heaven, like the rest of us!